An oldie but goodie to cleanse the palate. We’ve blogged it before but I’d forgotten all about it until I was reminded today, now that the subject is topical again. Reid said this in the early 1990s, a decade that saw huge growth in Nevada’s Latino population and a sea change in the AFL-CIO’s attitude towards immigrant labor. By 1999 he had reconsidered his position. But then, convenient flip-flops on big-picture worldview-defining issues weren’t unusual for Reid.
He would have reversed himself eventually even if electoral pressures in his home state hadn’t forced him to. It’s hard to imagine a modern Democrat supporting any meaningful disincentive to illegal immigration but it’s completely unimaginable to imagine one backing a tweak to the Constitution(!) that would deny something as momentous as citizenship(!!). If we haven’t yet reached the point where open borders are as sacrosanct to liberals as feticide, we’ll get there. His logic in the clip is perfectly sound, though: Inescapably, if you grant citizenship to children of parents who have no lawful right to be in the United States, you’ll get more would-be parents attempting to enter the United States unlawfully. And that’s never been truer than it is today, as the Democratic Party veers ever further towards radicalism on immigration. Hillary Clinton wanted to preserve Obama’s (now defunct) DAPA program, which would have granted de facto legal status to illegal-immigrant parents of natural-born U.S. citizens. That is, if you snuck across the border and gave birth here, the last two Democratic nominees for president were prepared to not only uphold citizenship for your child but to reward you with the right to stay too. “No sane country would do that, right?” says Reid in the clip below. Correct. No sane country.
But birthright citizenship ain’t getting changed by executive order. I doubt even Trump thinks it might. Today’s news is likely nothing more than a trial balloon or a shiny object to get all the chatter about his “tone” off the front page. Paul Ryan laughed off the idea:
.@SpeakerRyan responds to Trump: "Well you obviously cannot do that. You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order. We didn’t like it when Obama tried changing immigration laws via executive action, and obviously as conservatives we believe in the Constitution." pic.twitter.com/XMnt7ZzZrF
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) October 30, 2018
Reid’s own proposal in 1993 was to try to change the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment via an Act of Congress. Even a conservative Supreme Court would be leery of letting Congress enact de facto constitutional amendments via simple legislation by “clarifiying” certain parts of the Constitution (that’s the Court’s job!) but a statute is sturdier stuff than an executive order. Reid’s proposal:
TITLE X—CITIZENSHIP 4 SEC. 1001. BASIS OF CITIZENSHIP CLARIFIED. In the exercise of its powers under section of the Fourteenth Article of Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the Congress has determined and hereby declares that any person born after the date of enactment of this title to a mother who is neither a citizen of the United States nor admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident, and which person is a national or citizen of another country of which either of his or her natural parents is a national or citizen, or is entitled upon application to become a national or citizen of such country, shall be considered as born subject to the jurisdiction of that foreign country and not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States within the meaning of section 1 of such Article and shall therefore not be a citizen of the United States or of any State solely by reason of physical presence within the United States at the moment of birth.
If your mom is a U.S. citizen when you’re born here, you’re a citizen. If your mom isn’t a citizen but *is* here legally when you’re born here, you’re a citizen. If your mom broke the law and had no right to be here when you were born, you’re a citizen of the same country she is. That’s a perfectly equitable arrangement, one which I think a heavy majority of Americans would support if we were hashing out a citizenship scheme for illegals from scratch. But we’re not, so it’s dead on arrival. The open-borders party would never countenance it.
If you subsidize something, you’ll get more of it. We’ve chosen to subsidize illegal immigration with citizenship. Reid once cared, until his interest in retaining his Senate seat convinced him not to.