The pure logistics of repealing a Constitutional amendment is, at its best, daunting. According to Article V of the United States’ Constitution, you need 2/3 majority of both houses and ¾ ratification of the states.
This has only been done once and it required another constitutional amendment. The temperance movement decried the evils of alcohol. In 1919, the Volstead act, (named after Andrew Volstead, chairman of the house judiciary committee) passed enabling the eventual passage in 1920 of the Constitution’s 18th Amendment prohibiting the general sale of alcoholic beverages.
This was a huge mistake as was evidenced by wholesale corruption, widespread crime and a general disregard of the letter of the law. This was finally acknowledged and in 1933 the 21st Constitutional Amendment was passed whose sole purpose was the repeal of the much despised 18th Amendment.
Let us now turn our attention to both the present and the year 1868.
Congress passed the 14th Amendment in 1868 in direct response to the recognition of the status of freed slaves. The measure consists of five sections covering the following areas: Citizenship, Congressional representation, funding of insurrection, public debt and the enforcement of the provision.
At issue today is the first section of the 14th Amendment which states:
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. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
We’ll break this down in a bit. But let us discuss why this particular bit of verbiage is paramount as we today speak.
There is currently a clown car of GOP hopefuls all vying to win the Presidential election scheduled November 2016. And as Matt Taibbi reasoned in his recent article in Rolling Stone, the tactics recognized for bumping you in the polls involves neither logic nor reason. Rather it is the headline grabber causing higher ratings. In other words, the more outrageous, the better.
The Trumpster seems to be the prevailing headlining bozo of the moment. And he appears to be quite masterful in his ability to grab headlines. During his presidential bid announcement he pronounced Mexican immigrants as rapists and thieves. A good start no? Huckabee, I suspect unintentionally, secured headlines when, during the obligatory Obama bashing, reflected that our nuclear deal with Iran was so naïve as to be the equivalent of marching Israelis to the ovens. This horrific unfiltered bilge simultaneously grabbed headlines and, therefore, increased the Huckman’s poll numbers.
But the Donald has issued a series of outrageous headline grabbers. He insisted he would build a great wall on Mexico’s border and make Mexico pay for it. Right. He denounced John McCain for having the bad taste of being captured during the VietNam war. And of course, he discounted McCain’s status as war hero. There have been others.
But his most recent foray into the shocking involves his insistence on ridding ourselves of the onerous liability of recognizing those born within the confines of our states as, per se, United States citizens.
Those born here are conferred these rights as a direct and proximate result of the first sentence of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.
During the post civil war period this language was hotly contested by the Southern states prior to the amendment’s ratification. Prior to this, African-Americans, regardless of their status were either not recognized or only counted as 3/5 of a person for purposes of congressional representation.
Which brings us to a rather disturbing growing climate of anti-immigration. I feel this is a rather hypocritical posture we citizens of these United States find ourselves.
As we all know, none of us are Americans. Unless your forefathers were born on this land prior to Columbus’ landing, you are not native. And it is with this recognition, among others, our nation was founded. It is with this ethic we still have our Statue of Liberty emblazoned with Emma Lazarus’ welcoming words.
It is with no small amount of wonder and sadness I watch a series of clowns pontificate upon the sanctity of our land. Trump knows full well this particular point cannot be taken remotely seriously on a number of levels.
There is no gray area or area of interpretation, unlike the second amendment. The first sentence of the fourteenth amendment could not be possibly more clear. If you are born here you are a citizen.
An argument is currently put forth by followers of John Tanton’s Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) that certain immigrant groups are engaged in “competitive breeding” aimed at diminishing white power.
FAIR recently helped run a billboard campaign in Virginia blaming immigrants for traffic and sprawl. In a 1997 interview, Tanton said that unless U.S. borders are sealed, America will be overrun by people “defecating and creating garbage and looking for jobs.”
Never mind the same bilge has been thrown at one or another at Irish, Italians, Catholics, Jews, Blacks, Chinese and Japanese. It appears as though it is now Mexico’s turn in the barrel.
A new phrase has entered the American lexicon in the form of what is casually referred to as Birth Tourism. In a nut shell this involves a foreign national arriving on our shores with the express and sole intent of delivering a newborn upon our shores.
There are those who establish compounds and hotels where birth tourism, particularly among Asians, has become an issue. In these instances, there are lies perpetrated to the unsuspecting parents of these babies and these people are accordingly exploited.
While the language of the Fourteenth Amendment is quite clear, the reality poses a different picture.
A child can be born here, but that alone does not give the child or their parents the right to live here, until the child reaches adulthood.
Once a citizen child reaches 21 in the case of the United States and 18 in the case of Canada, that child can return to North America and eventually sponsor their parents to legally immigrate to the country of citizenship. As for education in the meantime, unless the child can show legal guardianship or custody by a U.S. or Canadian citizen giving them permission to reside in North America, they will not be able to study here, either.
So once again, we are posed with overly simplistic bombast designed to instill fear in the uneducated masses. The issue is being inflated for the sole purpose of gaining notoriety.
Further let us look at the likelihood of actually repealing the Fourteenth Amendment.
The process is, at its very best, extremely burdensome. Both Houses of Congress must propose the amendment with a two-thirds vote. Two-thirds of the State legislatures must call on Congress to hold a Constitutional Convention.
Regardless of how the amendment is proposed, it must be ratified by the States. Three-fourths of the State legislatures must approve of the amendment proposed by Congress, or three-fourths of the states must approve the amendment via ratifying conventions. Again, this method has only been used to repeal the 21st Amendment. Only 33 amendments have received a two-thirds vote from both Houses of Congress. Of those, only 27 have been ratified by the States.
And yet, here we stand, allowing our media to fascinate us with yet more shiny baubles of nonsensical irrelevant titterings.
Do we need a properly administered immigration policy? Yes. Do we need a constitutional amendment to address the issue? No.
We need reason, logic and dedicated professionals all in place serving you and me.