It takes a certain kind of fortitude and leadership to take a strong stand against a small group of children. No, I'm not calling Congress "children." Well, not directly. I'm referring to the barking by Republican leaders to repeal the 14th Amendment, which is interpreted to mean everyone (with few exceptions) born in the U.S. is automatically a U.S. citizen.
So far there have been calls for hearings to look into the issue. House Minority Leader John Boehner, shockingly even more tanorexic this week, said on Meet the Press, "It's worth considering."
Really? It's really worth considering?
The Republicans' "solution" for illegal immigrants living here is to make more people living here "“ illegal?
There is no hard data on actual "anchor babies." It sounds widespread because it's repeated often. There are only anecdotal claims. People in the immigrant community deny such a scheme exists. You don't get citizenship from giving birth to a citizen. Illegal immigrants are having children because that's what humans do. So "anchor babies" are the new "death panels." And we're talking about amending the entire constitution to ward against a conspiracy theory.
"I don't think the founders understood when they did the 14th Amendment that they would create a circumstance where people could fly into America, all over the world and have a child and that child would have dual citizenship, fly back to their home countries," said Republican Senator Jeff Sessions in an interview with ABC News.
If the Republicans get their hearings, let's start with how the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868, about 70 years after the death of the first president, Founding Father George Washington. The "founders" did not write the 14th Amendment.
Just so we keep our basic "founders are sacrosanct" civics straight.
What the founders did write was Article 3, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution regarding Treason. The document lays out the implications of treason, then says, ""¦but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted."
"Corruption of Blood" was an English law stating that if your parents committed treason, you were also stained. Meaning, you're punished for the sins of your father or mother. But according to our founders, not in this new country. No. In this country the American Dream pivots on doing better than your parents by the will of you and your metaphor-worthy bootstraps. In this country it (theoretically) doesn't matter from where or from whom you came, the dream can be yours, too.
I was raised in foster care. The state not only protected me from my parents, they were my parents. The wrongdoing, political affiliation or immigrant status of my biological family was never an issue because I was born here - and that's just not America. There are a myriad of places where it matters who your parents are (college applications, scholarships "“ dating), but the state was concerned only with my welfare and wellbeing - completely indifferent to the shortcomings of my parents when it came to how I was treated. Besides, it's impossible to have the "rugged individualism" narrative going if our citizen rights are tied to mommy and daddy's documents being in order.
I benefited from a humanistic policy that was not wrapped in the myopic frenzy of political theater. If we could all be so lucky.
Now, to drum up hysteria about this alleged rash of pregnant Mexican border hoppers, the GOP's idea is to change the Constitution so that being without papers is treated more harshly than treason. If your parents betray the country "“ you're safe. But if they stay past the expiration of their student visa "“ buh-bye, kiddo! For being a party who rails against government bureaucracy their idea is a triplicate form of fear-baiting from the department of half-baked.
Is the Republican Party really calling for taking away children's rights? Are they really "looking into" the government's punishing kids for decisions their parents make? Do we really want lineage to be a deciding factor for civic life? Of course we don't. We're Americans. We're a nation of coming-from-somewhere-else's. We're a nation of starting over, trying again and re-inventing ourselves.
Most importantly, we're a nation that protects children - regardless of who their parents are. Even if their parents are politically desperate Republicans.
Tina Dupuy is an award-winning writer, editor and columnist for Cagle Cartoons. Follow Tina on Twitter @TinaDupuy.
Want to run Tina's column in your publication? Contact Cari Dawson Bartley. E-mail [email protected], (800) 696-7561.