The state Republican Party adopted a platform Saturday that includes a provision aimed at opposing automatic citizenship for babies born in the U.S. to illegal immigrants.
Actually, it opposes automatic citizenship for legal residents too, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
“Immigration is an issue that a lot of our party activists feel strongly about,” state Republican Party Chairman Luke Esser said. “And it’s certainly a very defensible position. It’s not at all something that’s based on race concerns.”
Yeah.. sure, Luke. It has nothing to do with race. And when Republicans think about immigration, they don’t automatically envision hoards of Spanish-speaking brown people.
“It’s a matter of what is citizenship going to be based on.”
And in the United States of America, Luke, citizenship is based on the 14th Amendment:
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.
Of course, top notch attorney that he is, Esser relies on the classic Republican legal strategy for getting around a constitutional provision. Reinterpret it:
Esser noted that prohibiting citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants could “require a change in the U.S. Supreme Court interpretation of the 14th Amendment…”
That’s right, the trick, according to WA’s state GOP chair, is not to build the political consensus to revise the US Constitution, but rather, pack the bench with enough conservative justices who are willing to toss out legal precedent that has stood since 1898. And to be clear, the state GOP’s goal is not merely to deny citizenship to natural born children of illegal immigrants, but to deny our long tradition of “birthright citizenship” to the children of legal residents as well.
The provision goes on to say that legal immigration “can best be facilitated by a transparent, traceable and enforceable guest-worker program that does not include amnesty or birthright citizenship and sanctuary cities.”
So children born on US soil to “guest-workers” with legal visas, would be denied citizenship, as would any number of other second-class residents:
Esser said the issue of birthright citizenship is broader than just illegal immigration. For example, he said, “I think if you ask the average person, ‘Should a couple vacationing in the United States who are citizens of another country have a child on U.S. soil, should that child be a U.S. citizen?’, that doesn’t sound reasonable.”
And that’s just one example. The whole purpose of the 14th Amendment was to prevent Congress, the states and the courts from coming up with exceptions under which they could deny one class of people the “privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” But to our state GOP leaders, I suppose, a child born here of Mexican parents, raised and educated here, and for whom English is his first language, is still more Mexican than American.
That’s the sort of thinking that ultimately led to Japanese internment camps.
[WA Attorney General Rob] McKenna said he doubts the citizenship provision of the party platform will have much impact… “I think the attention span of the public on party platforms is very brief…”
Isn’t that always the GOP strategy… counting on the public not to pay close attention to the issues, or where their party stands on them.