‘Anchor Babies’ and ‘Native-Born Americans.’ The Problem of Birthright Citizenship.

By John Zmirak Published on October 30, 2018

As a long-time critic of uncontrolled immigration, you’d expect me to have a simple take today. President Trump is taking on “birthright citizenship.” And that’s a good thing. Period.

In the end, I think it is, for both political and patriotic reasons. But we need to acknowledge the undertow. The things that bother us about changing this rule. We do ourselves no favors if we try to wish them away. They’re the root of the only good arguments which honest people offer in favor of birthright citizenship. And we want to convince honest people, whose emotions have misled them.

As Al Perrotta wrote here, the legal and Constitutional case is strong for ceasing to hand out citizenship to everyone born here. (For instance, babies whose moms were flying from Korea to Iceland, who gave birth on a layover in O’Hare Airport.)

Using Babies as Anchors, and Pawns

What is worse, immigration lawyers, leftist activists, and institutions dependent for their survival on mass immigration (i.e. many churches), have acted cynically for decades. They use the children born on U.S. soil to illegal immigrants as pawns in a legal game. Have an anchor baby, and you can’t be deported. Your child is now a citizen! What’s more, you’re eligible now for a long list of benefits — on his behalf, of course. And by the way, would you like to come to our next rally at the State capitol? Just so, open-borders zealots used the children smuggled into America by adults as a club to beat Donald Trump with. “You want to split up families? You heartless monster….”

I remember watching the all-black U.S. Olympic basketball team play against the team of Croatia — where my dad’s family came from. I felt torn about whom to root for, my fellow-citizens or my ethnic kin. But that was a bad thing.

Such cynicism does indeed devalue citizenship. It cheapens what should be a tie that binds us. As the brilliant Yoram Hazony writes (in a book I’ll soon review at length), citizenship is crucial. It’s the Golden Mean, the midpoint of allegiance between two unworkable extremes. Those are:

  • Loyalty only to my family, friends, and members of my tribe (however I define that). And the rest of the world be damned. And:
  • A vague, abstract, and meaningless “citizenship of the world.” This amounts to a warm, fuzzy feeling toward every person on the planet as an equally indistinguishable stranger. You “love mankind” in the same way that you want to “save the whales.”

We want white Republican suburbanites to feel a bond of fellow citizenship with inner-city black Democrats. We want it to be stronger than they feel toward, say, their distant cousins back in Norway. Nationalism based on citizenship isn’t evidence of racism. Done right, it’s the alternative, or even antidote, to racism. I remember watching the all-black U.S. Olympic basketball team play against the team of Croatia — where my dad’s family came from. I felt torn about whom to root for, my fellow-citizens or my ethnic kin. But that was a bad thing, I realized even at the time. I should cheer for my fellow Americans, period. Do any less, and you’re helping to tear apart your country.  

Loyalty to This Republic

Likewise, when I argued with my fellow Catholics about immigration, I noticed divided loyalties. Again and again, people would say things like: “How can you try to keep out your fellow Catholics?” I knew this was wrong, dead wrong, but I sensed which emotional string they were trying to play on. It wasn’t Faith, but tribalism. I calmly explained, again and again, that I owed a civic duty to my fellow citizens that I in no sense owed to foreign residents who happened to belong to the same church as I do. That when our ancestors came here, they swore loyalty to this Republic. They weren’t serving as agents for a global Church seeking to colonize and conquer the place. That got me called (with contempt) an “Americanist.” Not the worst thing in the world, when you come to think of it. Not at all.

And if you’re trying to define who counts as your fellow citizen, there’s a certain emotional logic to saying, “Well, if you were born here….” We think of trees as rooted. Of wolves as having dens. Of salmon that swim back to breed in the very spot where they were born. I was born in Astoria, Queens, a few miles from Donald Trump. Having grown up there, I will always feel a stronger bond to it than I will to other places, even nicer ones with lower taxes, better politics, and superior barbecue. That’s only natural.

We want white Republican suburbanites to feel a bond of fellow citizenship with inner-city black Democrats.

So there’s something “only natural” about extending citizenship to everybody who’s born here. Let’s admit that, and move on to say what else people need to know.

Exploiting Our Generosity

Birthright citizenship is not in the Constitution. But it was a long-standing presidential policy. It was born of generous motives. It appeals to our sense of place, and our openness to welcoming folks of every stripe and hue.PIG Immigration

But our generosity has been taken advantage of. Our openness abused. We now face tens of millions of restless people in poor, disordered countries. They want to come here, and if they arrive they will bankrupt our welfare system. They will vote in the kinds of politics that ruined their native lands. And our elites want to flood the country with them, to dissolve the American people and replace it with a new one. All of that is evil. It’s morally wrong and reckless. We must stop it (to quote my fellow American, Malcolm X) by any means necessary.

Is ending birthright citizenship the best use of Donald Trump’s political capital, in solving the immigration crisis? Some conservatives don’t think so.

If we don’t build a wall, don’t force employers to check if employees are legal to work, and don’t deport those who overstay their visas, then ending birthright citizenship is a crucial emergency measure. But if we don’t do all those things, in the long run we’re lost anyway.

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In a perfect world, I’d secure our citizenship at those vital choke points: the border, the workplace, and the residence visa — and leave birthright citizenship alone. I’d accept the occasional scofflaw couple, who snagged their child citizenship, as the price of retaining an emotionally attractive principle: you’re born here, you get to stay here.

But that’s just one more generous impulse which the globalists are exploiting, now, isn’t it?

 

John Zmirak is co-author, with Al Perrotta, of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration.

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  • Baronsamedi1925

    I doubt that because they used most of the same arguments against my ancestors when they first came to the U.S. over a hundred years ago. It’s the same argument that was used to deny Jews fleeing Hitler during ww2.

  • Dave

    Cheering for Croatia against the U.S. in a basketball game constitutes helping to tear apart your country.

  • jgmusgrove

    The crucial words are, “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof”. Transient travelers and persons here illegally are not subjects of this jurisdiction; they are subjects of the country to which they have citizenship and their children are similarly subjects of that country. We allow citizenship to children of US citizens who happen to be abroad when their children are born, because they are subjects to the jurisdiction of the United States.

    • Dave

      Actually, children of transient travelers and persons here illegal ARE subject to the jurisdiction of the United States if born here. They’re citizens.

      • m-nj

        Ummm… you don’t seem to grasp the argument being made here… They have been ASSUMED to be citizens, but the issue has never been settled by a court case on what exactly the 14 Amendment allows and disallows. Using the “that’s the way it has always been” rationale doesn’t make it legal or correct, and certainly doesn’t mean it makes clarification and changes impossible.

  • David N. Gray

    There are a number of questionable things in this article, but let me start with this one: what would happen to these children of non-legal residents? Are the new-born babies going to be immediately deported to their parent’s country of origin? Along with their parents? Thus making it effectively a crime to give birth? Or would we be creating an entire community of people who are not citizens of any country? With nowhere to be deported to? What would their status be? Do we exploit them because they have no rights, or just pretend they don’t exist? I don’t see how you can tell someone that they don’t belong in the only country which they have ever known.

    • Bryan

      “Thus making it effectively a crime to give birth? Or would we be creating an entire community of people who are not citizens of any country?”
      Considering your post above about wild conclusions with little to no evidence, you don’t seem to be appealing to reason much yourself. Question: To what country do the children of US Servicemen belong to when they are born overseas? Are they not US citizens even if they are not born in the US embassy (which is technically US soil)? So too, wouldn’t the children born to non-legal immigrants be subject, just as their parents, to the country they left?

      • David N. Gray

        I’m just asking questions to try to understand the intended effect of this proposed policy. I don’t know how citizenship works in other countries. For how many generations would they still be citizens of another country they have never seen? For how many generations back would you need to provide documentation of your ancestors to prove that you are a citizen?

  • David N. Gray

    In this passage:

    “… if they arrive they will bankrupt our welfare system. They will vote in the kinds of politics that ruined their native lands. And our elites want to flood the country with them, to dissolve the American people and replace it with a new one. All of that is evil. It’s morally wrong and reckless. We must stop it … by any means necessary.”

    There are at least six wild conclusions there offered without any supporting evidence or rationale. None of them even seem plausible to me from what I know. This appears to be an appeal to fear instead of reason.

    • Chip Crawford

      Thinking outside the box someone has always stuffed your brain in is difficult, but don’t shoot the messengers who refuse to fear to look closer or maybe actually look, which is what you are doing.

      • David N. Gray

        So how is this supposed to work — you believe these things for what reason?

    • BillClintonsShorts17

      The numbers involved, if allowed in, would indeed bankrupt our social safety net.

      Of Course large groups – colonies – will have cultural assumptions that will influence their behavior and their voting. You think the large groups of white pioneers didn’t replace Indian customs with their own?

      The intention the elites have of replacing us does not need to be verbalized. The intent is communicated by their actions.

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