Via TPM, skip ahead to 9:00 for the key bit from this otherwise wide-ranging interview with the Kremlin’s TV house organ. (Really!) I’m as shocked as you are — shocked, that is, that this is considered some sort of fringe position given that there’s already a bill floating around the House that would redefine “natural-born citizen” to limit it to children of citizens or legal permanent residents. In fact, see if you can guess which fire-breathing, not-at-all-mainstream wingnut is responsible for this passage:
If those who wrote and ratified the 14th Amendment had imagined laws restricting immigration — and had anticipated huge waves of illegal immigration — is it reasonable to presume they would have wanted to provide the reward of citizenship to the children of the violators of those laws? Surely not.
The Civil Rights Act of 1866 begins with language from which the 14th Amendment’s Citizenship Clause is derived: “All persons born in the United States, and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States.” (Emphasis added.) The explicit exclusion of Indians from birthright citizenship was not repeated in the 14th Amendment because it was considered unnecessary. Although Indians were at least partially subject to U.S. jurisdiction, they owed allegiance to their tribes, not the United States. This reasoning — divided allegiance — applies equally to exclude the children of resident aliens, legal as well as illegal, from birthright citizenship.
Give up? The answer’s here. The point of this attack on Paul, of course, isn’t really to suggest that he’s fringe but to get prominent Republicans, who are terrified of losing any more Latinos votes, to condemn him. E.g., “Senator McConnell, Senator McConnell! Do you agree with Rand Paul that the poor suffering children of illegal aliens should not enjoy the joys of American citizenship?!11!?” And actually, it’s precisely that logic that guarantees that the House bill would never be enforced even if it passed and was deemed constitutional. The public’s simply not going to stomach deporting kids who were born here and spent their first, say, 10 years here, even in a post-birthright citizenship political landscape. Which is why some form of amnesty is almost certainly inevitable. Exit question: Er, are we sure Rand Paul’s a libertarian?
Update (5/29): A reader e-mails to point out that the bill in the House, H.R. 1868, actually doesn’t use the term “natural-born.” Here’s the key part:
`(b) Definition- Acknowledging the right of birthright citizenship established by section 1 of the 14th amendment to the Constitution, a person born in the United States shall be considered `subject to the jurisdiction’ of the United States for purposes of subsection (a)(1) if the person is born in the United States of parents, one of whom is–
`(1) a citizen or national of the United States;
`(2) an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States whose residence is in the United States; or
`(3) an alien performing active service in the armed forces (as defined in section 101 of title 10, United States Code).’.