In the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s the United States deported trainloads, busloads, and shiploads of illegal aliens. “Operation Wetback,” ordered by President Eisenhower in 1954, charged the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) with deporting a million illegal aliens: men and women and their American-born minor children. Government agents did it then, and the 14th Amendment to the Constitution does not prevent them from doing it today.
Was the operation effective? In ninety days 750 INS agents, with state and local police, deported 80,000 illegals from Texas alone. Thousands more were deported from California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and Idaho. And while the operation was underway, 488,000 illegals in Arizona and California returned to Mexico on their own; another 700,000 fled Texas.
Liberal Democrats cling to the 14th Amendment and say deportation of American-born children to the homeland of their parents will never happen again. They point to the first sentence of 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.” (Emphasis added.)
They also believe an 1898 Supreme Court case, U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark, governs the issue of birthright citizenship. In order to get the desired result, the court ignored the intentions of the framers of the 14th Amendment, and legislative history. Their decision stated, “the debates in Congress are not admissible as evidence to control the meaning of those words.”
That was expedient, but wrong. How wrong? Senator Howard said, in May of 1868, that the “Constitution as now amended, forever withholds the right of citizenship in the case of accidental birth of a child belonging to foreign parents with the limits of the country.”
An excellent study by Vincent Gioia, Are Children Born of Illegal Immigrants US Citizens, is in the “Family Security Matters” website for 15 July. The bottom line: Mexican illegal aliens are subject to the jurisdiction of Mexico, and so are all their children who are born here.
When a study by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) showed that illegal aliens cost U.S. taxpayers $113 billion per year, legislators began to think about their unemployed constituents. For example, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that automatic “birthright citizenship” needs to be changed, and that he might introduce a constitutional amendment to that effect. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) agree in principle. They know, however, that Democrats would violently resist such an amendment in a Senate debate, and the required approval of 38 states would take forever.
Former Representative Nathan Deal of Georgia had a better idea, and he introduced a bill proposing that being born in the U.S. only confers citizenship if one of the child’s parents is a U.S. citizen. That bill has been kept in limbo by Speaker Nancy Pelosi for a year, even though at last count it has 92 sponsors. If passed, the law would undoubtedly be challenged by the great Americans of the ACLU, lambasted by other great Americans in the mainstream media, and finally wind up before the Supreme Court. Today’s justices would then be able to review the flawed decision in the Wong Kim Ark case and honor the intentions of the framers of the 14th Amendment. Better to do it now than later, when President Obama might have an opportunity to appoint another Justice like Elena Kagan, and tip the court into left wing territory for decades.
Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce, a sponsor of the immigration law recently suspended by a liberal federal judge, is thinking about sponsoring an Arizona state law that also challenges the notion of birthright citizenship. If he is successful, such a new Arizona law would immediately attract high voltage lightning from the Obama administration and would go before the Supreme Court even faster than the bill proposed by Nathan Deal.
And as sensible congressmen gamely oppose an administration determined to grant amnesty to illegals, Arizona Sheriffs like “Sheriff Joe” Arpaio, Paul Babeu, Clarence Dupnik, and Larry Dever have million dollar bounties put on their heads by drug cartels. After one of his deputies was shot by drug-runners and tepid federal authorities continued to refuse to secure the border, Sheriff Babeu said, “Our own government has become our enemy.”
While lawmakers ponder and lawmen patrol, the White House conspires with the Department of Homeland Security in order to legalize illegal aliens with a stroke of the president’s pen. The plot has the Forest Service calling illegal aliens, “displaced foreign travelers!”
Our national failure to take a grip on reality is costing us dearly. In Texas the costs of illegal immigration, $16.4 billion, equals the state’s entire current budget deficit. In California the cost is $21.8 billion, $8 billion more than the state deficit. And New York’s deficit is only two-thirds of the $9.5 billion cost of that state’s illegal population.
Who will be the first to stop paying for the children of illegal immigrants: unemployed workers, or ranchers in the vast borderland the cartels have seized from the United States?
Chet Nagle is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and the author of Iran Covenant.