Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Conservatives Mount Xenophobic Campaign To Change 14th Amendment

The citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment states, "all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States." That's the problem, according to conservatives mounting a campaign to deny automatic citizenship to the children of immigrants. Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce (above), author of Senate Bill 1070, is among those who back this move. In the article "Baby Baiting," which appeared in The Nation, Robin Templeton dispels the xenophobic myths behind the right-wing term "anchor baby":

Pearce and his ilk are capitalizing on a concept with old nativist roots that is lending new potency to the assault on Latino immigrants. Fueled by bogus conspiratorial depictions of newborns delivered moments after their parents cross the border; "emergency alien deliveries" overrunning US hospitals and endangering American lives; and undocumented mothers having children in order to collect public benefits on taxpayers' backs, the anti-immigrant right is demonizing babies as the weapon of choice for armies of "illegals."

The idea that illegal immigrants can conceive and be granted automatic citizenship is false, especially following restrictive laws adopted over the past few years:

Today, a citizen must be 21 in order to sponsor the green card application of a parent or an immediate relative. The applicant must then show documentation proving that he or she has not been in the United States unlawfully for more than one year. Barring such proof—the primary obstacle most immigrants face—the parent must return to the country of origin for ten years before being allowed to lawfully re-enter the United States and resume the application process.

...Immigration reform also curtailed due process and blunted judicial discretion in criminal cases involving immigrant defendants, greasing the wheels of deportation proceedings. Many nonviolent misdemeanors were reclassified as aggravated felonies for this purpose...

...The notion that "anchor babies" are a means of reaping government benefits for undocumented parents can also be easily debunked. Federal welfare reform passed in 1996 disqualified most immigrants, including most legal permanent residents, from receiving almost all forms of public assistance and imposed a five-year waiting period on applications for assistance on all future immigrants.

..the fearmongering right...warns that undocumented immigrants are endangering the healthcare system. ...In fact, Silvia Henriquez, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, says the opposite is true. "Given the limited access that immigrant families already have to healthcare, this xenophobic climate toward immigrants makes women afraid to seek prenatal and pediatric care."

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