Freshman U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has teamed up with U.S. Senator David Vitter (R-LA) to fulfill a Tea Party dream: denying U.S. citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants. (Right off the bat, let me say that I’m still amazed that Vitter has the nerve to propose laws of any sort, after the big “Family Values” supporter admitted to being a serial adulterer with a serious prostitute habit, who likes for his “ladies” to dress him in diapers. But hey, Louisianans have been known to re-elect some of the seediest politicians in American history, so I guess the rest of us just have to deal with it.)
OK, back to the story. In the past year, a growing chorus of Republicans, including our own Sue Myrick, have campaigned to do whatever it takes to deny U.S. citizenship to undocumented immigrants' children. First, a regular bill was proposed to do away with “birthright citizenship,” but legal experts warned that the law wouldn’t fly because, you know, it directly flouted the 14th amendment to the Constitution. Then, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) proposed simply repealing the 14th amendment, but that didn’t work because most members of Congress didn’t want to be seen as anti-black (the 14th amendment, passed in 1866, was originally intended to protect the rights of former slaves, although its “birthright citizenship” clause has also been a cornerstone of U.S. immigration policy for over 140 years.)
Rand Paul and Diaper Dave’s proposed amendment would directly target the national “anchor baby” boogeyman by declaring, "a person born in the United States to illegal aliens does not automatically gain citizenship unless at least one parent is a legal citizen, legal immigrant, active member of the Armed Forces or a naturalized legal citizen."
I’ve always found it intriguing, if not exasperating, that it’s usually the same conservatives who continually proclaim the sanctity of the Constitution who always want to change the country's founding document when it suits their agenda (proposed amendments to ban same-sex marriage, for instance).
Sen. Paul said, in introducing the amendment, that "Citizenship is a privilege, and only those who respect our immigration laws should be allowed to enjoy its benefits." Paul’s declaration makes me wonder where I stand. Since I have very little respect for the nation’s immigration laws, does that make me ineligible for U.S. citizenship? Come to think of it, Paul’s own Tea Partiers seem to have the least respect for American immigration policies, so where does that leave them? (Note: those last two questions were jokes. I know it was obvious to the vast majority of readers, but sometimes it’s a good idea to clarify things, in the interest of avoiding an e-mail tsunami from pinheads).
Amending the Constitution is a long, hard slog, as we supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s found out. Both houses of Congress must pass a proposed amendment with two-thirds majorities, and then the amendment must be ratified by three-quarters of the states (38 out of 50). Perhaps Paul and Diaper Dave are counting on the sour mood brought on by a sputtering economy to boost their amendment’s chances. Stay tuned.