Immigration in the USA
Why should immigration laws be so controversial in the land of the free and the home of the brave? Maybe because they were originally intended for keeping the bad guys out so the good guys within could stay safe. The defining badness or goodness of a non-citizen has thus been entangled in policymakers brouhaha ever since.Credit: wikimedia commons
Birthright begins the opinion stewpot. There may be some misinterpretation of the meaning of natural citizens as the 14h Amendment civil rights law states for American citizenship. The amendment is correctly thought to help in abolishing slavery. All former slaves "born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof." Just what does that and subject to thejurisdiction thereof mean? For many it has come to mean that a person born in the states is subject to our laws and that is that. Not so, according to one writer, freelance columnist Mike Rosen. He writes this about the disputed meaning, "That key phrase doesn't mean subject to our laws; it refers to persons who owe no allegiance to another country. That is, who were not citizens of another country or children of citizens of another country." If the law was interpreted this way then those illegal and legal immigrants (those with tourist visas or not)would not be granted citizenship status just because they came here on a tourist visa and just happened to deliver a child while here. If the child and parent(s) return to their country, they are not subject to US jurisdiction; they do owe allegiance to a foreign jurisdiction. Also, there is the oft ignored belief that a child must be born to a U.S. citizen, not an immigrant (legal or not), to be born a U.S. citizen.
Foreigners like diplomats who happen to have a child born here are not regarded as U.S. citizens, so why should foreigners who come here legally and have a child here, only to return to their countries, be given citizenship? The reasons foreigners do this are many, one common reason is so the child can return to claim full rights and benefits that U.S. citizens are entitled to, actually, that U.S. citizens are privileged to. What is the harm in this, many citizens wonder. First of all, it begins the disintegration of federal mandate and the beginning of outlaw Naturalization Rules by states. Arizona is a main example.
The Arizona legislature passed an immigration law that severely restricts illegal immigrants to work. In fact, it is a crime for them to even seek work. Regardless of the law passed, it has been shut down by the Supreme Court ruling. Unfortunately, this may just be a sign of Feds rule, not states, instead of a comprehensive immigration law reform. There has been another controversial bit of reform considered an immigration policy shift for undocumeted immigrants.
The current administration has implemented delayed or zero deportation for undocumented immigrants considered "low risk" for deportation because, for instance, those youths brought to the U.S. from illegal immigrants, and who don't know any other home. Many of these youths are now college age and they cannot get into college without proper papers. One Senator, Richard Durbin of Illinois, is the sponsor of a bill that was stalled in Congress for a decade. It is called the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act). Estimates for people who could earn citizenship under this is from 100,000 to 2 million. Presently the government will review 300,000 deportation cases to see who qualifies and who needs to be deported. Evidently a case-by-case review may help illegals who don't pose any national security or public safety threats. They may be able to apply for work, and get it. The education issue is another quagmire.
Here in Colorado the debate is whether undocumented students should pay the same tuition as legal state residents. Opponents state that illegal behavior should be punished and even if a student gets a college education, they won't be able to work, so why bother granting the same tuition. Sympathetic advocates of the bill concur that it is an issue that needs to be addressed for a large part of the Colorado population. This is the sixth time the issue has been debated by Colorado lawmakers. Thirteen other states have passed in-state tuition for immigrant students. This year Colorado immigrants don't get in-state tuition with a state subsidy. The proposed tuition would like like this example. Immigrant students would pay $9,500 annually, in-state residents would pay $7,700, and non-Colorado residents would pay $28,850. That is just an estimate for one Colorado University.
Returning to the question of, what is the harm in this (about the meaning of natural born to U.S. parent(s) or just born in the U.S.), I have shown some of the many issues that have arisen from the original Amendment interpretation, and avoided some of the stickier political repercussions. The most glaring one is the accusation that the current administration is trying to make good on former campaign promises to reform immigration laws especially and most notably for the Latino votes. Indeed it seems that the timing of the reform is concurrent with the mad scramble for upcoming presidential elections. The political posturing will always be an entertaining bit of the pre-election process, but in this case it is a heated ongoing debate where action has been taken by one state already.
I haven't read of any pending deportation cases to be reviewed for non-Latinos. That is where another ugly perception has reared to the forefront about the current reform. What about non-Latinos who fit the "low risk" category? Are they also eligible for a case review? To get even stickier, what about all the non-Latinos who have come to this country on a tourist visa (legally), overstayed their visit and are automatically banned from the U.S. for ten (yes, that is 10) years? What kind of immigration policy is that? Think of all the young people that come here and work (huge in resort areas), and are not criminals, yet they are treated worse than illegals because they overstayed their visa. To me, this smacks of discrimination in the present amnesty reform that is occurring.
It could be a great program if it was open to all, including those who merely overstayed their visa. The U.S. desperately needs an eagle view of immigration reform, not just a mouse detail for certain immigrants.