I’ve come to the conclusion that discourse among American conservatives has degenerated into little more than “values” button-pushing. Mention the Culture of Life, and you can argue for just about anything -- including open-borders immigration.
As a pro-immigration conservative (yes, I know, we could fit in a phone booth), I am opposed to Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R., S.C.) proposal to end birthright citizenship for babies who, through no fault of their own, are born in this country to illegal immigrants. Innocent children shouldn’t be held responsible for the sins of their parents.
In terms of why not amend the Constitution: The Fourteenth Amendment rejected the idea that someone could be a person but less than a person legally, as well as the idea that citizenship can be made dependent on race. It is of enormous symbolic importance. There is no data supporting the claim that significant numbers of women deliberately cross the border to give birth in the United States in order to take advantage of this provision.
Further, the Republican party would be committing political suicide if it were to endorse ending birthright citizenship, as it would cost the party Latino votes, which are crucial in Florida and in several Western states. It could also hurt the GOP’s prospects in the upcoming mid-term election by diverting attention from the Democrats’ record of over-spending, over-taxing, and exploding the national debt. Given inexorable demographic trends, the GOP could be rendered politically irrelevant, certainly at the presidential level, for generations.
But wearing my other hat as the co-chair of the Susan B. Anthony List’s executive committee (though speaking strictly for myself), my biggest fear is that Graham’s proposal, if enacted by constitutional amendment or by statute, will lead to more abortions: Undocumented immigrants with unplanned pregnancies might choose to have abortions instead of risking apprehension by the police or government immigration agents (not to mention possible deportation down the line) at the hospital maternity ward. Some women terminate their pregnancies for less serious and sometimes superficial reasons. It also might encourage women to have unsafe births outside of a hospital setting.
Senator Graham’s plan to end birthright citizenship is not only substantively and politically flawed, but it undermines a bedrock principle of modern conservatism — preserving the sanctity of life. Republicans and conservatives ought to think long and hard before embracing such a controversial proposal.
Perhaps Cesar will next inform us that Americans who desire immigration restriction “don’t support the troops” because closing our borders would keep out Iraqi migrants and refugees, and thus imply that they are not ready for democracy, which would demoralize our fighting men and women currently expanding the blessed form of government in the Middle East. This seems no more ridiculous than the argument above.
Also of note here is that one of the people supporting a Constitutional amendment against birthright citizenship -- or, alternately, a reinterpretation of the existing 14th* -- is Lindsey Graham, formerly known as “Grahamnesty.”
Now, we should never trust someone like Graham, and his proposal to end birthright citizenship would be rendered moot (at least in the short term) if it were followed by the granting of amnesty to 12-20 million illegals.
But as much as I hate saying so, Graham actually brings up an important distinction.
“Guest workers” and temporary employees are certainly problematic, mostly due to the fact that the businessmen who invite them usually aren’t held accountable for the damage they cause to other people’s life and property. However, the best thing about migrants is that they go home, and don’t stick around to become wards of the state.
As usual, conservatives, Lou Dobbs types, and even some “paleos” have got thing backwards when they speak of their love for “assimilation” and “legal immigration,” and then feign concern for poor Mexicans migrants who are supposedly “abused” by evil capitalists and -- heaven forbid! -- paid wages below the federally sanctioned hourly minimum. But ultimately, the migrant who stays for a limited period of time, who doesn’t harm anyone, and who then promptly goes away -- I know, this is idealistic -- is essentially engaging in the free trade of his labor.
We should treat such migrants as a potential nuisance -- and communities certainly have the right to exclude them altogether. Still, the real problem is notillegal immigrants but the legal ones. The real danger is not poor agricultural laborers who come and go but millions of foreign aliens who are to be “assimilated” into the nation.
At any rate, for the first time in his career, Lindsey Graham has proposed something that I support.
* -- This prospect is discussed by Pat Buchanan in State of Emergency.