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Opening Arguments

Born free

Here's a lively debate.

Of course the 14th Amendment requires birthright citizenship, so why would any sane Republican declare war on it?

America has been hugely successful over the years in assimilating its immigrants and it is reasonable to assume that birthright citizenship has been part of our winning formula. (One reason why I am left cold by the argument that America’s birthright-citizenship approach is unusual among nations: Since when does our being unique bother us, especially given our unique success here?) Unless there is some particular problem that can be ascribed to birthright citizenship, we ought not be changing it, let alone monkeying around with the Constitution in order to do so.  

No, actually, there's nothing odd at all about reading the 14h Amendment as not requiring birthright citizenship, and questioning the wisdom of a policy is not the same thing as "declaring war" on it:

In fact, the United States is one of the few countries in the world that confers citizenship on illegal aliens based on nothing other than the happenstance of their birth within national borders. I am not suggesting that the laws of other countries shed light on the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment; just that birthright citizenship is rightly seen as bad policy in most of the world.

If you're a progressive, or even a "moderate," you will likely have missed that debate, because it was all within the confines of The Corner, the blog run by that hateful rightwing rag National Review, which merely peddles conservative dogma and never, ever has a meaningful discussion about anything.

I have mixed feelings myself about birthright citizenship. In the overall scheme of things, it's a very tiny bit of the illegal immigration problem. But the blind acceptance of it, even by many conservatives, seems to me to be a part of the passivity that has made illegal immigration such an intractable problem.