Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The legal history of "anchor babies"

From the indefatigable Ann Coulter:

"The drafters of the 14th amendment had no intention of conferring citizenship on the children of aliens who happened to be born in the U.S. (For my younger readers, back in those days, people cleaned their own houses and raised their own kids.)

Inasmuch as America was not the massive welfare state operating as a magnet for malingerers, frauds and cheats that it is today, it's amazing the drafters even considered the amendment's effect on the children of aliens.

But they did.

The very author of the citizenship clause, Sen. Jacob Howard of Michigan, expressly said: 'This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers.'

In the 1884 case Elk v. Wilkins, the Supreme Court ruled that the 14th Amendment did not even confer citizenship on Indians -- because they were subject to tribal jurisdiction, not U.S. jurisdiction.

For a hundred years, that was how it stood, with only one case adding the caveat that children born to LEGAL permanent residents of the U.S., gainfully employed, and who were not employed by a foreign government would also be deemed citizens under the 14th Amendment. (United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 1898.)

And then, out of the blue in 1982, Justice Brennan slipped a footnote into his 5-4 opinion in Plyler v. Doe, asserting that 'no plausible distinction with respect to Fourteenth Amendment 'jurisdiction' can be drawn between resident aliens whose entry into the United States was lawful, and resident aliens whose entry was unlawful.' (Other than the part about one being lawful and the other not.)

Brennan's authority for this lunatic statement was that it appeared in a 1912 book written by Clement L. Bouve. (Yes, THE Clement L. Bouve -- the one you've heard so much about over the years.) Bouve was not a senator, not an elected official, certainly not a judge -- just some guy who wrote a book.

So on one hand we have the history, the objective, the author's intent and 100 years of history of the 14th Amendment, which says that the 14th Amendment does not confer citizenship on children born to illegal immigrants.

On the other hand, we have a random outburst by some guy named Clement -- who, I'm guessing, was too cheap to hire an American housekeeper."

'Nuff said.

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