Trump’s First Policy Questions The Same Law That Guaranteed Black People Citizenship

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It’s no secret the U.S. Census says White children in the U.S. will be minorities by 2020, especially after an immigrant baby boom.

An estimated 50.2 percent of all children in the U.S. are expected to be non-White by 2020, the result of falling birth rates among Whites and rising rates amongst immigrant groups, occurring amid a surge in immigration, the Census reports.

The numbers likely explain why Donald Trump, the presidential frontrunner of the mostly-White Republican Party, wants to change a key part of the 14th Amendment to revoke the citizenship of children who were born in the United States but whose parents were not, according to his immigration policy plan released this week:

“This remains the biggest magnet for illegal immigration,” Trump writes, describing an immigration policy that could cost up to $166 billion. “By a 2:1 margin, voters say it’s the wrong policy, including Harry Reid who said ‘no sane country’ would give automatic citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants.”

Indeed, revoking birthright citizenship privileges would hurl the U.S. back to its racist past, when the U.S. Supreme Court issued its Dred Scott decision in 1857, blocking Black people, either free or slave, from ever becoming U.S. citizens.

The 14th Amendment corrected that decision 11 years later and ensured citizenship for African-Americans, stating, “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.”

Targeting ethnic groups for exclusion has long been tradition in the U.S., with Mexicans only the latest group to fall victim. From Think Progress:

Prior to the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which contained many of the same protections later enshrined in the amendment — including a birthright citizenship provision. As Elizabeth Wydra explains, some members of Congress expressed concerns that this provision would extend citizenship to immigrant populations they viewed as undesirable, including “the Chinese population in California and the West, and the Gypsy or Roma communities in eastern states such as Pennsylvania.” Pennsylvania Sen. Edgar Cowan, for example, expressed concern that the Civil Rights Act would “have the effect of naturalizing the children of the Chinese and Gypsies born in this country.” Meanwhile, the law’s supporters explicitly rejected these nativist concerns. As Sen. Lyman Trumbull explained, “the child of an Asiatic is just as much a citizen as the child of a European.

Trump is not alone in questioning the rights of people born on American soil within the vast field of Republican presidential candidates.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Monday told NBC News, “We should stop birthright citizenship.” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, whose parents emigrated from Punjab, India, tweeted, “We need to end birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants.”

That’s not all. In 2010, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul told The Huffington Post that he didn’t “think the 14th Amendment was meant to apply to illegal aliens.” And in his run for governor in 2010, Ohio Gov. John Kasich voiced support for ending birthright citizenship, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

Trump defended the plan Tuesday night before a formidable foe – Bill O’Reilly – on Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor. The host tried to explain to the real estate mogul that mass deportations could not happen, according to Politico:

O’Reilly then asked Trump if he envisions “federal police kicking in the doors in barrios around the country dragging families out and putting them on a bus” as a means to deport everyone he intends to deport.

“I don’t think they have American citizenship, and if you speak to some very, very good lawyers — some would disagree. But many of them agree with me — you’re going to find they do not have American citizenship. We have to start a process where we take back our country. Our country is going to hell. We have to start a process, Bill, where we take back our country,” Trump said.

Trump told O’Reilly he didn’t want to go the route of amending the Constitution because, well, it would take too long. Rather, he wants birthright citizenship tested in the courts, Politico writes:

“It’s a long process, and I think it would take too long. I’d much rather find out whether or not anchor babies are citizens because a lot of people don’t think they are,” he said. “We’re going to test it out. That’s going to happen, Bill.”

As far as the DNC is concerned, there’s nothing to test out. “The 14th Amendment states unequivocally that ‘All persons born or naturalized in the United States…are citizens of the United States,’” Pablo Manriquez, DNC director for Hispanic media, said in a statement.

He continued, “Instead of focusing their efforts on comprehensive immigration reform, Republican candidates have decided to attack the citizenship of American children born to immigrant families. Attacking and criminalizing children – let alone citizen children born to immigrant parents – is the lowest form of political buffoonery…even for the GOP.”

Do you think we keep citizenship rights for all people born in the U.S., even if their parents are here illegally?


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