It is written into the constitution that anyone born in the United States is a citizen - and the gop in Congress is now on a drive to end this.
The left needs to see how the right wing dominates debate - by having their base push proposals that people have to take sides on. This creates "controversy", and pushes the media to be "balanced". The right wing faithful recognize these proposals as being standards to rally around, and sudden the US has an "immigration crisis". Now there is no crisis, but there is a conflict. Just as with evolution, it isn't that serious people are taking different sides on the proposals, this one is just plain bad, because it creates stateless persons. But there is a conflict.
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In an economy that is unable to create jobs in significant numbers, and where real wages are falling, protectionism is a natural. The protectionists on the left want to keep out goods, and the protectionists of the right want to play the crypto-racist card of keeping out people from Mexico. On a practical level these are both misguided attempts to not deal with the basic problem that a borrow and squander American fiscal policy is driving down our ability to grow affluence.
The right wing attack is more powerful politically, because while many people want a widescreen TV in their house, many fewer people see the head of lettuce in their refrigerator as coming from immigrant labor. People are wiling to fool themselves on the matter.
But it points to something deeper, something the left continually forgets, buries or ignores - and that is that the post-Civil War amendments are under attack. These amendments, how ever imperfectly, create a broad new national power, national citizenship and national grant of rights. The Fourtheenth Amendment, in particular, is the heart of the issue. It is virtually a second bill of rights - and while often used to create rights for corporations as people - it is foundation on which liberalism in America rests. It states that economic, political and social oppression are not constitutional, and grants the federal government the power to intervene in the actions of local majorities when they act against the will of the Majority in a larger sense.
This is why disabling, denying or destroying the 14th Amendment is crucial to the right wing. The judicial compromise that allowed rulings from the Jim Crow era to stand in name, while being overturned in fact, allowed them to do this by attacking the judicial proxies - such as "the right to privacy" - as being "activist". In fact, these rulings are not activist at all, but constitutionally mandated in the strongest terms: Congress has a duty to enforce the post-civil war amendments, and the courts are bound to overturn laws which fail the test presented in these amendments.
The right wing boil up on immigration is happening because they know that Iraq is not going to be a source of political hysteria and mandate much longer. The war on terrorism - other than as a way to keep the "Patriot" act in place - is dead. Crime, for long term demographic reasons, is low. This means there must be another "swarthy peril".
But these tacks are tactical compared to the long term strategy of dismantling the 14th Amendment. The reality that the left must come to understand is that larger than Roe, larger than any individual court decision, is the Amendment itself. This has been ignored, to some extent for historical reasons, and to some extent for rhetorical reasons.
In the case of immigration, the right wing's attempts may backfire - and are already producing a backlash. And they have been very foolish already, because one of their strongest allies was the unwieldy nature of the 14th Amendent, lacking a bumper sticker phrase, in the public consciousness. As with "reality based community" the right wing is attacking something which, in fact, is a powerfully positive image.
The right wing has named what they attack: birthright. The left now has something to argue in favor of: the American Birthright. Protecting this, in its forms, becomes a rhetorical point, and allows us to expand to a long list of other rights that are, and must be, birthrights of all Americans - access to civil institutions, schools, hospitals and good government.
To understand how powerful the amendment is, consider its language:
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state.
Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
The first two sections are crucial, it offers sweeping protections of the law, protections which the right wing is intent upon abridging. These include equal access to marriage, the vote and protections for the vote whose penalties fall on states that fail to meet the required standard.
It is this principle that progressives must return to, notwithstanding the fact that XIV was promulgated by the Republic Party - indeed the Democratic Party at this time was the more conservative party as we understand the term today. The attack on our birthright is a gift in disguise - because it gives us a lever to explain to people what, exactly, reactionary government costs them.
Their birthright to America.