• Edición impresa de Septiembre 9, 2010

• México del Norte •

The Chinese United States

Some news this week… the Senate could hold hearings on the reform. Even more news, the hearings would be led, if they happen to happen, by four Republicans, led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell along Jon Kyl plus John McCain and Lindsey Graham.

The last ones are, supposedly, about the only Republican Senators who support immigration reform… or at least used to… But the reform these Senators want hearings on is not immigration reform but the 14th Amendment reform. Our readers may wonder why Latinos should care if four Republican Senators discuss the U.S. Constitution, so let’s make it clear: if they change it, they could take away the citizenship status to millions of Latino and other immigrant’s kids.

The 14th Amendment is the one granting citizenship to all persons born between the line where Mexico ends and the line where Canada starts, plus a bunch of islands all over the planet and Alaska. It was approved on July 9, 1868, and it starts with

“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.” It was approved to give citizenship to the sons and daughters of former slaves after the Civil War.

These Republicans say they wan to change it because, Lindsey Graham told Fox News “the birthright citizenship is a magnet for illegal aliens to the United States.” Graham added that it would be a move to stop something he calls “birth tourism, in which travel firms in China sell travel packages designed to allow pregnant women to give birth in the US.”. I can see the danger now! Can you imagine 100 million Chinese women coming to give birth in the U.S. each year? By 2015 we would be the Chinese United States!

In The Hands Of The Enemy

The argument is idiotic and the target here is not Chinese, but the sons and daughters of undocumented immigrants. Besides idiotic, it is not new. Back in 2008 the Republican Party discussed an amendment to the 14th Amendment that read something like “To be a U.S. citizen you would need that at least one of your parents be a citizen of the United States and that neither of both have violated the immigration laws”. It was not approved under the consideration that it could harm John McCain’s presidential campaign…

To change the Constitution you need two thirds of the vote in each chamber in Congress, plus the approval of 34 state legislatures, meaning this amendment to the amendment is going nowhere except maybe …China or further away… As Republican delegates realized two years ago at their National Convention, taking away their citizenship to children of the undocumented would only increase the numbers of those in need of legalization to around 16 million instead of 12.

The question is, then, why proposing the amendment now? The answer is simple: elections.

It seems Republicans already decided Latino voters don’t decide anything. In other words, instead of trying to win back the Latino vote they have lost because of their anti immigrant politics, they are trying to win the white vote they lost in 2008 to Barack Obama. Wise strategy… in the short term, but Latinos will have more and more votes in a few years, so it is a short sighted strategy for the long term. But obviously the issue here is not pregnant Chinese tourist and neither undocumented parents, but the U.S. perception of immigrants and how far to the right they can take the discussion of the immigration reform.

Democrats responded via Congressman José Serrano, who stated in an editorial that “the Constitution should never be changed for the worst”, and call the attention to the fact that the Republicans’ amendment would not affect undocumented immigrants but their U.S. citizen children, and that would be unconstitutional.

The only answer from the Obama administration came via Janet Napolitano, head of Homeland Security and therefore highest immigration authority, who declared herself “surprised” by the Republicans “they presented this idea instead of discussing immigration reform”. The bad part of her statement is that she added “Immigration reform depends on the cooperation of the Republican Party. Democrats can’t do it themselves”.

To me that sounds like “immigration reform depends on the enemies of immigration reform”. It is to surrender. If Republicans do not deserve a single Latino vote, it looks to me like Democrats do not deserve a single one either….




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