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Black People Need Birthright Citizenship – OpEd

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If white nationalists are allowed to abolish birthright citizenship, they will immediately move to de-Americanize as many Blacks as possible, for criminal convictions or poverty.

The 14thAmendment of the Constitution guarantees citizenship to all persons born in the United States. This Reconstruction era legislation was passed in 1868 and subsequent court cases established that the rule applies to all, regardless of parents’ birthplace or their legal status as residents.

Birthright citizenship has been under constant attack and for years there have been calls to end it. The hot button issues of undocumented people having citizen children or birth tourism by wealthy foreigners cause endless feelings of resentment. Those feelings are misguided but understandable when coming from black Americans. The most vulnerable group is often marginalized by new arrivals, even sometimes by black immigrants from other nations.

Yet the irony is that there is no other group more in need of birth right citizenship protection. Donald Trump’s latest gambit to end it brings out the red meat loving MAGA crowd.Despite his claims, a president cannot change any constitutional provision by executive order. Congress would have to approve by a super majority of 2/3 votes in both houses followed by 3/4 of the state legislatures. Trump is again guilty of spreading ignorance and misinformation but that isn’t the worst aspect of this issue. Now there is very deep and dangerous confusion among black people that didn’t exist before.

If birthright citizenship were to disappear, black people would be victims along with the immigrant babies who are disparaged so badly. Children born to undocumented parents would be the first target but black people would follow close behind. If birthright were no longer the determining factor in citizenship status it could be changed or even disappeared altogether.

Black Americans would be subject to racist whim as in the Dominican Republican, where thousands of Haitian descended persons had their citizenship rights moved with the stroke of a pen. Other countries that had birthright citizenship ended it when the tipping point of brown people became too much. European nations such as the United Kingdom, France and Ireland all ended birthright citizenship when they felt threatened by the presence of newborn brown and black children.

White Americans know that black people aren’t going anywhere. But the presence of an unprotected class of some 30 million people is a fantasy they have long desired. If birth didn’t determine citizenship, any criteria could be used to take it away. Criminal conviction might end citizenship rights. Poverty could be the determining factor or anything that white nationalists wanted to propose.

But the result of miseducation and misguided thinking has brought about the unthinkable. Right wing talking points are absorbed by everyone if repeated long enough and racist terms like anchor babies and chain migration are now uttered by some black people too. There are people willing to risk their own rights because they are angry about birth tourist Chinese and Russians or the undocumented having citizen children.

The right wing is aware of this new dynamic and some propose ending birthright citizenship while carving out protections for descendants of enslaved Americans. They may be evil but they are not stupid. They know that those words are magic to the ears of millions of people who watch as what is left of their economic security disappears. Immigrant blaming has become a default position in a country whose people are rarely offered any beneficial systemic change.

This retrograde foolishness is a factor because of political failure. Like all fascistic doctrine it thrives when basic needs and human rights are attacked by powerful interests. The increasing rightwing nature of American politics impacts every group, even the one least likely to support conservative doctrines. In any case black citizenship rights are always tenuous. In every outcome we lead in the bad and trail behind in the good. We are the most likely to be discriminated against in the work place or to be killed by the police. Our very communities are taken away in the gentrification onslaught and we are physically displaced. But these attacks make it even more crucial that our rightsbe left untouched.

We should be under no illusions that Trump lovers would confine their hostility to babies. We have seen this movie before and we know the ending. The Reconstruction era itself was a brief moment that was savagely put down by white segregationists. Their rule lasted for nearly 100 years before the liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s ended it.

But that progress was also short lived. The Voting Rights Act is now null and void and the segregationists are back in the driver’s seat. The end of Jim Crow brought about mass incarceration as a replacement mechanism for subjugating the black population. There is no reason to believe that changes to birthright citizenship would result in anything positive for black people.

Instead of saying that Donald Trump is the broken clock that is right occasionally we should be working on an effective political movement. All Americans are moving backward in the endlessly rightward political lurch. Americans are overcome by debt peonage with no guarantee of living wage employment, housing, or health care. The energy used to defend Trump and the Koch brothers on this one point would be better spent on a much needed political movement for this century.

But that requires struggle and hard work. We will even have to struggle with one another as the system circles the drain. One thing is for certain. Black people will suffer the most if the doctrine of birthright citizenship is changed in any way.


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Margaret Kimberley

Margaret Kimberley

Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR (http://www.blackagendareport.com), and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.com.

2 thoughts on “Black People Need Birthright Citizenship – OpEd

  • November 9, 2018 at 2:00 pm
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    The purpose and intent of the 14th Amendment was to reverse the “Dred Scott vs. Sandford decision of 1857” and did nothing more than this. It was about granting citizenship to freed African slaves. The 14th Amendment gave naturalize citizenships to all freed African slaves and their children are natural born United States citizens. Under the 14th Amendment only naturalized or natural born United States citizens parents can have children that have birthright citizenships.
    14th Amendment Section 1.
    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.
    “and subject to the jurisdiction thereof” clause meaning is political jurisdiction example Native Americans had their own tribal jurisdiction therefore not subject to the American jurisdiction this includes foreigners and aliens that are subject to home countries jurisdiction and allegiance. Allegiance and/or citizenships although different words they have the same meaning. Foreigners and aliens are not subject to American jurisdiction therefore their United States born children allegiance are in question and are not naturalized or natural born United States citizens.
    Civil Rights Act of 1866
    All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same right in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give evidence, and to the full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of persons and property as is enjoyed by white citizens, and shall be subject to like punishment, pains, penalties, taxes, licenses, and exactions of every kind, and to no other.
    The civil rights acts of 1866 and 1875 were passed by the U.S. Congress in an effort to make full citizens of and guarantee the rights of the freed slaves. The Thirteenth Amendment (1865) had abolished slavery throughout the nation, and Congress was faced with how to enfranchise this population
    The Civil Rights Act of 1866 has the same meaning as the 14th Amendment but written differently in such a way so that it cannot be misinterpreted. Such as claiming birthright citizenship of children born on United States soil to foreigners and aliens’ parents
    Anchor babies are not United States citizens. Birthright citizenship of children born on United States soil to foreigners and aliens parents started after the 1965 Immigration act it was a decision made by executive fiat not authorized by the senior executive ranks and only congress that has the authority to make such changes, decisions, and law. President Donald Trump has the authority to reverse this un-authorized executive fiat decision retroactively without the consent of congress. This is what the executive order is all about. This is the same as reversing DACA executive order made by President Obama it will be an uphill court fight. Congress never authorized birthright citizenship of children born on United States soil to foreigners and aliens’ parents in the 1965 immigration act. Congress in its entire history never authorized birthright citizenship of children born on United States soil to foreigners and aliens’ parents. Judges in court will be constantly asking questions did congress by law authorized birthright citizenship of children born on United States soil to foreigners and aliens’ parents? No! The court case will not be about whether the 14th Amendment authorizes birthright citizenships but about reversing an executive decision. Congress needs not get involved.
    The executive or the president oversee enforcement of immigration laws. Enforcing the laws as they are written and following strict constitutional protocols is fully constitutional. The 14th amendment is not being followed to its original intent as Senator Jacob Howard R-MI statement of intent.
    Senator Jacob Howard clearly spelled out the intent of the 14th Amendment by writing: “The 14th Amendment granted citizenship only to the recently freed African slaves. It did not grant citizenship to illegal immigrants. It did not grant citizenship to Native American Indians. It did not grant citizenship to foreigners or their children born on U.S. soil.” Senator Jacob Howard R-MI: I now move to take up House joint resolution No. 127.
    The first amendment is to section one, declaring that all “persons born in the United States and Subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the States wherein they reside. I do not propose to say anything on that subject except that the question of citizenship has been fully discussed in this body as not to need any further elucidation, in my opinion. This amendment which I have offered is simply declaratory of what I regard as the law of the land already, that every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States.
    This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons.
    It settles the great question of citizenship and removes all doubt as to what persons are or are not citizens of the United States. This has long been a great desideratum in the jurisprudence and legislation of this country.” Senator Jacob Howard R-MI, 1866 14th Amendment author.

    By signing an executive order reinforcing the original intent of the 14th Amendment is fully constitutional because President Donald Trump is not violating constitution, not promoting or creating laws by executive order legislation, DACA by executive order did violate the constitution only congress has the authority to create immigration law. But the congress and the states by constitutional amendment have already express that only decedents of African slaves are covered by the 14th amendment. It was about reversing the “Dred Scott case of 1857” were African American slaves lost in the Supreme Court case gaining their United States citizenships.

    By signing an executive order reinforcing the original intent of the 14th amendment is fully constitutional. Keep in mind most judges have already made up their minds on the 14th Amendment vs. birthright citizenship. Of course, this executive order will be challenge in the courts by anchor babies because they will lose their United States citizenships retroactively. For anchor babies some very uncomfortable questions will be asked in the courts, were Native Americans covered by the 14th Amendment? No! Native Americans got their United States citizenships by the “Indian citizenship act of June 2nd, 1924”. Proof that only freed African slaves were covered by the 14th Amendment. The “Indian citizenship act of June 2nd, 1924” gave naturalize citizenships to all native Americans and their children are natural born United States citizens. If native Americans were not covered by the 14th Amendment why do you say persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens are US Citizens when Senator Jacob Howard R-MI made statement of intent “persons born in the United States and Subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the States wherein they reside. I do not propose to say anything on that subject except that the question of citizenship has been fully discussed in this body as not to need any further elucidation, in my opinion. This amendment which I have offered is simply declaratory of what I regard as the law of the land already, that every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States.
    This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons.
    It settles the great question of citizenship and removes all doubt as to what persons are or are not citizens of the United States. This has long been a great desideratum in the jurisprudence and legislation of this country.”
    Lawyers it will be really challenging to answer this question!
    Before the 1965 immigration act babies born on United States soil of foreign and alien parents were not citizens and were later deported to their parents’ home countries. Did congress authorize birthright citizenship of children born on United States soil to foreigners and aliens’ parents in the 1965 immigration act? No!
    Lawyers it will be really challenging to answer this question!
    Did the United States vs. Wong Kim Ark 1898 decision authorized birthright citizenship of children born on United States soil to foreigners and aliens’ parents? No! Because of the Chinese exclusionary act of 1882 congress by law excludes all Chinese from getting United States citizenships. The federal government executive never allowed children from Chinese parents who were Chinese citizens to become United States citizens. Even after the United States vs. Wong Kim Ark 1898 decision. United States vs. Wong Kim Ark 1898 decision is in direct conflict with the 14th Amendment therefore should be overturned.

    Reply
  • November 9, 2018 at 4:57 pm
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    This article is sheer garbage! The 1868 constitutional amendment made it clear that anyone owing allegiance to another country canon qualify as an American citizen. The newly born baby of an illegal immigrant therefore owes allegiance to the country from which their parents came and cannot qualify as an American citizen. In the 1980’s or 1990’s an amendment was sneaked in to change this without people realising its implications. This is where the term “anchor babies” comes from. President Trump has done well to restore the common sense status quo.

    Reply

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