Thursday, August 12, 2010

The 14th Amendment

A preface: Before I dig into my opinion, I'd like to note that this is, of course, a sensitive subject for a number of people. The liberal media outlets love to label anyone who questions the principle enshrined in the 14th amendment as a "lunatic fringe" member, and mainstream conservative politicians know to stay far away, lest they alienate the growing voting base of gray-legal immigrant populations. But hey, it's not like I'm particularly timid, or running for anything, and I happen to have an opinion on this topic, so here it comes.

There's a principle in the justice system of America that a criminal should not be allowed to profit from his/her crimes. This is presumably derived from the observation that allowing a criminal to profit from crimes might encourage criminal behavior, and if the profit potential is large enough, it might provide a stronger incentive for socially-destructive behavior than the discouragement which the threat of punishment might provide. Accordingly, almost all of our laws are designed to ensure that any ill-gotten gains are forfeit if/when you are convicted of a crime; in fact, you often stand to lose whatever you may have had.

The 14th amendment, however, provides a glaring exception to this principle, which was almost certainly not intended. At it's core, the amendment is intended to simplify citizenship for people born in the US: it's sorta an easy catch-all for the "if your parents are welcome here, you are too" ideology. As such, it's fine... but the country has changed a bit since it was envisioned. For example, we had a lot less people openly breaking our immigration laws, the federal government was more concerned with upholding the law and less with [openly] pandering to the controlling party's demographics, and we weren't nearly as much of a welfare state, ready to constantly sacrifice our own hard-earned prosperity to care for people who has no interest in caring for themselves. All these things serve to pervert the usage of the 14th amendment from something which must have seemed clearly the "right idea", into something which is effectively being used to profit from criminal activity. I find that personally objectionable, and potentially worthy of change.

Of course, I would not propose to repeal the amendment or anything; after all, the motivating principle is still perfectly valid. However, I think it could be itself amended, such that children born in the US are citizens unless it cannot be shown that, at the time of their birth, the mothers are present in the US legally. Basically, as long as your parent(s) are in the US legally (for whatever reason, citizenship of otherwise), you're automatically a citizen; if not, you would not be.

At this point, someone usually objects, saying it's unfair to punish the child for the parent's misdeeds, but that's a dumb argument: there's no free right to US citizenship, and you shouldn't get that right if your mother successfully breaks the law. There's also the argument that it kicks the proverbial illegal immigration can down the generational road without solving anything, but that's an aside: yes, it doesn't fix the underlying problem or do anything to fix the government's asinine position, but it doesn't make the problem worse, or provide incentive for the commission of more crime, as the current system does.

Anyway, that's my opinion, for what it's worth.

No comments:

Post a Comment