It is a right we take for granted: the right of people born in this country to be American citizens.
Many of our forebears – heck, all of them – made dangerous, difficult treks across land and water to ensure that their offspring would be born here and enjoy the benefits of American citizenship. We call it our birthright.
Comes now a group of folks who want to redefine that right. You could call them anti-birthers. Unlike the skeptics about President Obama’s birthplace, who stress the value of an American birth certificate, the anti-birthers want to diminish that value – but only for some people.
On Wednesday, as we write these words, Sen. Russell Pearce and Rep. John Kavanagh of Arizona, along with like-minded lawmakers from other states, unveiled legislation that would deny citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants.
Such children are wrongly being characterized as “anchor babies,” meaning that having them born in America is a ruse by their parents to keep from being deported. But the sad facts – the families who must leave their American-born children behind – do not bear this out.
The Arizona legislators and their supporters are challenging the 14th amendment to the Constitution – humanely adopted in 1868 to make citizens of the children of slaves – and no doubt hope to bring the issue all the way to the Supreme Court.
There are many flaws in the proposed legislation, but its chief flaw is lack of sense. It does not make sense to spend time, energy, and money – when all of those are needed to fix the broken economy, among other tasks – fighting a battle that was resolved after the Civil War.
We wonder, by the way, if an American-born infant of an undocumented Swedish family would also be considered an anchor baby. It seems clear that this legislation targets one group of people, Hispanics, and it does not make moral sense.