Dred Scott was an African-American male in the 19th century who was told in a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that African-Americans and their descendants were not protected by the Constitution and could never become citizens of the United States. It posed a nightmarish circumstance for even African-Americans who were never slaves, but descendants precluded from citizenship by virtue of their birth. The Fourteenth Amendment overturned this monstrosity in 1868, but now Republican legislators in over fourteen states are out to make sure that children of undocumented immigrants are denied citizenship by virtue of their birth.
Alongside Arizona Sen. Russell Pearce — the architect of Arizona’s SB-1070 anti-immigrant bill — Rep. Daryl Metcalfe from Pennsylvania has declared war on children of undocumented immigrants. Yesterday, his office confirmed that lawmakers in at least 12 other states besides Arizona and Pennsylvania were working on legislation to deny citizenship to babies born in the United States to undocumented parents. Those other states are Alabama, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.
Hypocrisy much? Lou Dobbs, Meg Whitman, Brian Sandoval and other Republican officials have no problem breaking the law and hiring undocumented workers, but they do have a problem when the children of those same workers have the same basic rights and liberties as their own children. The same party that stood by Dred Scott and African-Americans is now standing for Juan Crow, systemic denial of civil rights and discrimination against Latinos. Tell the GOP that Juan Crow is not only blatantly racist; it is also Un-American.
The Senate GOP leadership also expressed interest in the nutty proposal to repeal birthright citizenship earlier this year. But legislation to pass such a measure has never made it out of committee. And it is unlikely to go anywhere even with Republican control of Congress. So the next tactic is to focus on trying to get federal courts to declare that such a repeal is constitutionally valid, which would be a monumental task. But the GOP will try anyway because bullying immigrant babies is so much easier and distracting than actually working towards finding real solutions to an immigration system that does not work for everyone.
Our Constitution is unequivocal about the fact that anyone born in America is an American. The 19th century racists were wrong to deny citizenship to non-whites born here. Their 21st century heirs are also wrong today.
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