Anti-Immigrant Movement Renews Assault on the 14th Amendment
The Republicans are now attacking birthright citizenship, a fundamental part of the 14th.
The U.S. House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, lead by a Republican majority, held a hearing on Wednesday to debate whether a clause in the 14th Amendment granting U.S citizenship to children born on U.S. soil should be scrapped.
The debate, which included testimony from Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen, is the most recent example of a decades-long campaign by anti-immigrant groups to scrap one of America’s core Constitutional rights.
Nearly three decades ago, in 1986, white nationalist John Tanton, the founder of the anti-immigrant movement, distributed a series of memos he penned outlining his grand strategy for creating a viable and impactful anti-immigrant movement. In these memos, he warned of a coming “Latin onslaught” and complained about Latinos’ allegedly low “educability,” but Tanton discussed his plan for advancing nativist immigration policies.
“This is a long-range project. We should make every effort to get legislators sympathetic to our point of view appointed to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, and their Immigration Sub-Committees. Think how much different our prospects would be if someone espousing our ideas had the chairmanship! If we secure the appointment of our people as freshmen members of the committee, we will eventually secure the chairmanship. Remember: we’re in this for the long haul,” Tanton wrote in the first memo in the series, under a section titled “Infiltrate the Judiciary Committees.”
Following the 2014 mid-term elections, Tanton (not for the first time) got his wish, as the Senate Judiciary Committee tipped in favor of the Republicans, many of whom were sympathetic to the anti-immigrant cause, and actively working with anti-immigrant groups.
The increase in the number of hardline immigration restrictionists taking positions in both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees has had a noticeable impact already in 2015. At yesterday’s hearing, three of the four witnesses invited to testify firmly advocated ending birthright citizenship. (The lone exception was the SPLC’s Cohen.)