Normally, I drive across the border from San Diego, California, to and from Tijuana, Mexico. Recently, a broken arm prevented me from driving, so I joined the tens of thousands of Mexicans and Americans who walk through the San Diego Port of Entry at San Ysidro.
Mexico-bound drivers are rarely checked by Mexican Immigration, but pedestrians are regularly checked. Americans must present a passport. I use my passport “card” issued by the United States for land border crossings with Mexico and Canada.
One must be a U.S. citizen to have a U.S. passport or passport card. Such documents prove U.S. citizenship.
When the Mexican immigration officer looked at my card, she waved me through stating, “You are Mexican.” The card clearly states my birth nation as MEXICO. No interviews, no lawsuits or adjudication. My own U.S. passport declares me to be a Mexican citizen. Why?
Mexico has its own version of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment. If a child is born in Mexico, the child is a Mexican citizen upon his or her 18th birthday. So, Mexico and the United States are, perhaps, the world’s most advanced constitutional republics.
Now, why can’t some people read and comprehend our laws and our Constitution? Don’t they understand its “supremacy” clause?
In a phrase, federal law trumps local and state law; federal law is supreme.
Specifically, it’s about arguments that American children born of undocumented immigrants should be denied natural-born citizenship; that they should be denied “due process” and “equal enforcement of the law.”
Article 1 of the 14th Amendment states clearly that “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…”
Anyone who argues that a child born to one or more illegal alien parents in the United States is not a U.S. citizen is wrong. Some say people who hold such views are brainless.
Further, anyone who claims these children and their undocumented parents are not under United States “jurisdiction” are constitutionally illiterate.
Can illegal aliens be arrested for crimes? Must their children have birth certificates? Must their children produce certificates of vaccination to enter school? Must they have a license to drive? Must the children attend school per laws in all states?
Has the Supreme Court considered this argument? Yes, many times. Let’s begin with the argument that the 14th Amendment applies only to Blacks who were pre-1863 slaves or their children. The Court dispensed with this argument in the Slaughterhouse Cases in the 1870s.
Insofar as specified constitutional rights, it ruled that laws apply to all, not just certain favored groups regardless of the circumstances or legislative intent.
The federal court dispensed with the racial argument involving Mexicans in IN RE RICARDO RODRIGUEZ. The racial element argument that Mexicans were not white, thus not eligible for citizenship per 1846 federal law, was the position of Texas.
The court dispensed with that argument by Texas when it ruled that the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) — like all treaties — had the force of the Constitution and overruled any other law.
In the 1898 Wong Kim Ark case, the Supreme Court spoke decisively on the 14th Amendment. A California child born of Chinese immigrants whom law prevented from becoming citizens traveled to China. On returning to the United States, despite his birth in the United States, he was denied entry because his parents were Chinese. He was a “Chinese person.”
The court took great pains to elaborate on the history of citizenship in Great Britain, of British Common Law on the subject and what laws were in effect when the United States came into being.
It detailed dozens of Supreme Court decisions since 1804 that examined citizenship, concluding that, even before the 14th Amendment, children born in the United States were citizens unless they were born to foreign diplomats, American tribal Indians, on foreign ships in American waters or to women accompanying invading military forces.
The huge exception, of course, was the 1857 Dred Scott decision that ruled that Africans could not be citizens because they were either property or were not white, period. That issue was addressed by the Civil War and was overturned by Americans wearing blue uniforms.
The 14th Amendment was written in blood.
To the argument that it applied only to slaves and their children, evidence abounds that the Senate considered foreigners and many quotes exist in the congressional publication of the day that refers to “the strangers among us, Gypsies and Chinese.” Nonetheless, some argue that only black Americans were covered by the 14th Amendment.
Of course, the 14th’s wording alone destroys that argument: “ALL PERSONS BORN OR NATURALIZED in the United States.” “All” means all. Doesn’t it?
The 400 years of British and American court decisions, the laws and the Constitution mean nothing to those who question whether the 14th applies to almost all children born here. They would garner more support if they applied their faulty thinking to children of felons, murderers and traitors like spies Aldrich Ames and the Walker Family who sold out our nation to Russia.
They see mostly Mexicans; some see Central Americans. They have concocted “anchor babies,” a term that defines American-born children of illegal aliens as something other than a citizen as defined by the Constitution.
“Anchor babies” is the 21st Century version of the 18th Century British and American “n-word.”
The words themselves are blatant proof that those who use the term “anchor babies” are racists. You see, “anchor babies” are not defined in law or in the Constitution; they simply exist in the minds of people who hate Mexicans (and Central Americans) and need something to equate to their despicable, racist term for those of African descent.
These are the same people who gather by torchlight and chant “Jews will not replace us!” The chanters and their fellow travelers are a curse on our nation.
Raoul Contreras is the author of “The Armenian Lobby & U.S. Foreign Policy” and “The Mexican Border: Immigration, War and a Trillion Dollars in Trade.” He formerly wrote for the New America News Service of the New York Times and was a member of the International Seafarers Union in the 1960s.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.