Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jus soli

http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/06/15/arizona.immigration.children/index.html?hpt=Sbin

AZ republicans are planning to introduce a law that would prohibit the children of illegal immigrants born in the US from becoming citizens. The 14th amendment seems to prohibit this, but I will let the courts decide that if it gets that far.

More interesting to me is the argument by some that say that this goes against the spirit of America. This country was built by immigrants after all. While I won't deny history, I also think that comparing current Mexican immigration to say, the Irish immigration of the late 19th century, does not hold up. I say this for 2 main reasons:

1. When the Irish were coming over, there were no immigration laws. Thus they were not breaking any laws. The people who are crossing our borders today illegally are doing just that, breaking laws.

2. There was no social safety net in the 1800's. Becoming a US citizen entitled you to nothing. No Social Security, no Welfare, no Medicare, no Medicaid, nothing. You were given an opportunity only, and you got out of it only what you put in to it. That is not the case today. Every US citizen adds to our already exploding entitlement burden. Sure they pay taxes, but illegal immigrants are generally poor and the poor receive more in benefits than they pay in taxes. This was not the case in the pre FDR days. This added fiscal burden is probably why most Western European countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK do not allow a child to become a citizen simply because they were born in the country.

The economic structure of this country has changed immensely since the Irish and other Europeans were coming through Ellis Island. The US is no longer a dog eat dog world, where you alone are responsible for your well being. As we continue to increase our safety net it is imperative that we recognize the cost of our altruism. We simply do not have the money to pay for every single person that wants to be a US citizen. I am not sure that denying children born on US soil is the best way to keep costs down, but it is obvious that something needs to be done. Of course a good place to start would be to enforce our current immigration laws.

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