What Part of the 14th Amendment Doesn’t Trump Understand?
Featured Story, Immigration, Opinion, The Latest News

What Part of the 14th Amendment Doesn’t Trump Understand?

The Anti-Immigrant, Racist President Now Says He Can Deny Citizenship to People Born in the US

With days remaining before the mid-term elections, Trump says he plans an executive order that would end the practice of bestowing U.S. citizenship onto babies born in the United States to non-citizen parents, eliminating a long-term practice.

Such a dramatic move would certainly bring legal challenges because the 14thAmendment of the Constitution actually extends citizenship to “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.”

Clearly, the president has been working overtime to make immigration issues the top concern for the elections. He doubled down on his vow again yesterday, as noted in a smart piece by The New York Times’ Peter Baker, by making a wide variety of fear-evoking pleas to close out the campaign against Democrats.

ACTION BOX/What You Can Do About Hate Crimes

The Justice Department has launched a website consolidating information for reporting hate crimes and explaining the appropriate laws.

The announcement followed the recent fatal attacks against 11 Jewish worshippers in a Pittsburgh synagogue, a random shooting in Kentucky and the arrest of an overly avid political right-wing suspect for sending pipe bombs to Democratic leaders.

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein described the website as a “one-stop portal” with information for law enforcement, prosecutors and the public to learn about all the resources available to report hate crimes. The site is part of an ongoing effort within the Department of Justice to expand protections against hate crimes and to bridge gaps in hate crime reporting.

In 2016, 88% of agencies that report hate crimes to the FBI reported no hate crimes that year, Rosenstein said. He said that statistic demonstrates a lack of awareness of how to report hate crimes rather than a lack of them. Congress expanded protections for religious organizations earlier this year by including buildings such as religiously affiliated schools and hospitals to receive the same hate-crime protection as houses of worship.

A year later, Justice produced Hate Crime Statistics, 2016 showing that of 6,121 bias-motivated incidents reported throughout the United States the vast majority were single incidents. Among the total:

  • 56% were motivated by a race, ethnicity or ancestry bias;
  • 21%, religious bias;
  • 18%, sexual orientation bias;
  • The remaining, gender identity, disability or gender bias.

A majority of cases involved incidents at homes or roadways, against property more than people.

To report a hate crime

If you believe you are the victim of a hate crime or believe you witnessed a hate crime:

STEP 1: Report the crime to your local police.

STEP 2: Quickly follow up with a tip to the FBI. You can either submit your tip online here or call your local FBI field office here.

Other good sites:

The Anti-Defamation League, which was founded to stop anti-Semitism and protect the Jewish people but today fights threats to “democracy, including cyberhate, bullying, bias in schools and in the criminal justice system, terrorism, hate crimes, coercion of religious minorities, and contempt for anyone who is different.” The ADL maintains a “H.E.A.T. Map” of extremist and anti-Semitic incidents around the nation.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is a non-profit organization monitoring the activities of more than 1,600 domestic hate groups and other extremists. It also maps hate groups around the country.

Among other things, the president moved this week to order more than 5,200 active military troops to the Southern border—more than we have in Iraq and Syria at the moment—to stand with 2,000 National Guardsmen and the border patrol police to block any attempt by a diminishing migrant caravan of mostly women and children walking to reach the U.S. border. The caravan likely is still weeks away. Military troops are blocked by law from actually stopping migrants, of course, and committed to support activities.

Once there, of course, the migrants might—one by one—apply for asylum, which the president also wants to suspend, and then be detained in tent cities, despite court orders not to do so for more than 20 days.

We’re forced to conclude that this is not a response to an actual threat, but rather a political show, days before voting.

As The Washington Post noted, “President Trump is mobilizing the vast powers of the military and other parts of the federal government to help bolster Republican election efforts, using the office of the presidency in an attempt to dictate the campaigns’ closing themes. . .”

Apart from all else, it would be somehow delicious to see two new Trump-appointed Supreme Court justices dedicated to seeing the Constitution in literal terms to read that clause in Trump’s favor.

For what it is worth, just hours later, outgoing House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) dismissed the notion of an executive order out of hand (only to earn a slap to the head from Trump), though Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) said he would introduce a Senate bill to allow the elimination.

This issue apparently is about “birthright” status if you are more liberal, and “anchor baby” (or “chain migration”) if you see things from a more conservative viewpoint.

Recently in New York City, authorities happened for unrelated reasons to have come upon a building in the Bronx that was set up to receive and house a rotating number of Chinese moms who were coming here to give birth and then heading home, all with the idea that the children would be American citizens.

As Axios reported on its interview with the president, eliminating birthrights for such “anchor babies” would top even the ever-more threatening moves to stop immigration. It would be the most dramatic move yet in Trump’s hard-line immigration campaign. In any event, Trump’s power to do this through executive action is debatable to say the least.

In the interview, Trump said, “It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” declaring he can do it by executive order. When told that’s very much in dispute, Trump replied: “You can definitely do it with an act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”

“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States. . . with all of those benefits,” Trump said. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”

Actually, news organizations have noted that more than 30 countries provide birthright citizenship.

Separate from the legal issues, there are the values issues involved. Increasingly, Trump believes that a majority of Americans want to feel fear from immigrants, both illegal and legal, and wants to do what he can to preserve jobs for Americans. However well intended those sentiments, what comes across both internationally and domestically is a kind of bullying effort with more than a hint of discrimination for non-white populations that want to come to this country to escape violence and deadly criminal organizations in their Central American countries.

Over and over, the Trump administration is attacking on a wide front the idea that America should be welcoming immigrants and refugees.

While few immigration and constitutional scholars believe it is within the president’s power to change birthright citizenship, some conservatives have argued that the 14th Amendment was only intended to provide citizenship to children born in the United States to lawful permanent residents—not to unauthorized immigrants or those on temporary visas.

The number of births to unauthorized immigrants reached a peak of 370,000 in 2006, according to a 2016 study by Pew Research. It then declined slightly. While the Supreme Court has already ruled that children born to immigrants who are legal permanent residents have citizenship, those who claim the 14th Amendment should not apply to everyone point to the fact that there has been no ruling on a case specifically involving undocumented immigrants or those with temporary legal status.

In a 1989 Court ruling—U.S. v. Wong Kim Art—the majority found that a man born to Chinese-American parents in the United States was an American citizen.

Trump has railed against caravans of asylum-seeking migrants traveling from Central America, warning on Monday without evidence that there are “gang members and some very bad people” mixed into the group, which he has referred to as an “invasion.”

The administration is mulling over other tactics to block the migrants, including threats to cut off aid to countries that don’t impede such caravans, and an executive order and regulatory action that would place restrictions on the migrants’ ability to apply for asylum once they reach the United States.

Increasingly, we are fighting about values, not policy language. Maybe that’s indeed how America regains its moral footing.

November 1, 2018