So, I wake up to an absolutely beautiful summer morning with not a cloud in the sky and think how blessed I am to have a great family and live in Maine. Following my daily routine, I go into my man cave and turn on the vast right wing spin machine, Fox News, and am greeted by the phrase “Washington Post is reporting that leading Republicans are joining a push to reconsider the constitutional amendment that grants automatic citizenship to people born in the U.S.”

The first thing I do is pinch myself to see if I am awake or in a nightmare. It hurt, so I know I am awake, but can’t believe my eyes or ears. The story continues: “Sen. Lindsey Graham (R- S.C.)  and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) ….” Everything went blank at that point! Are we talking about the same Lindsey “Grahamnesty” Graham and John “McCompromise” McCain? Would this be the same two senators offering amnesty to 12 million illegal immigrants? Could this be the same two senators behind in the polls in their states running for re-election to the Senate?

I fire up the computer to check out the online sources — Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times —  to get the left wing spin and there it was for all to see: The Washington Post headline “Republicans want review of birthright citizenship.”  And,  as usual, all the other papers have similar headlines.

So I said to myself, “Self, what’s the catch here?” I know you are probably thinking that we cave dwellers — conservatives —  are thinking, “yeah, right on” let’s cut things off at the umbilical cord, right? Well you couldn’t be further from the truth!

We need to address the issue of illegal immigration, but this is not the way. I think we should fix it by enforcing the laws we already have on the books. Oh wait; that’s not happening. In fact, states are taking things into their own hands by passing laws that mirror the federal law, except they are actually enforcing them. What a concept!

The other amazing fact is that over 70 percent of Americans agree with the newly enacted Arizona laws and agree the other states introducing their own legislation to help combat their own illegal immigration issues.

I don’t know about you, but I am shocked the federal government is screwing up a federal program. They do everything so well.

The other amazing fact is the majority of Congress is going against the will of the people. I remember reading somewhere about when a government goes against the will of the people…now where was that? Oh yeah, that thing called the Constitution. That’s the thing that if the politicians don’t like what it says about limited government, they will just go change what fits their agenda. Can you see where I am going with this? But I digress…

 Now back to the 14th Amendment and birthright citizenship.

 Can you name any country in our hemisphere that allows anybody to cross over their border, have an “anchor baby” and be allowed to take advantage of their education and welfare system? The answer is no! Our generosity to feed, educate and provide health care at little or no cost to the people accessing our system cannot be found anywhere. The question is whether we should amend our Constitution and repeal the 14th amendment that will repeal the birthright citizenship issue.

 The 14th Amendment passed Congress on June 13, 1866, and was ratified on July 9, 1868 (this took 757 days) as part of the Reconstruction Acts after the Civil War. The 14th Amendment was designed to ensure that all former slaves were granted automatic citizenship of the United States. You see, the Supreme Court had ruled in Dred Scott v. Sanford, 1857, the decision that “no black of African descent could be a citizen of the United States.” Before the 14th Amendment, the states could prevent former slaves from becoming United States citizens, by withholding state citizenship. The 14th Amendment made the United States citizenship primary and state citizenship secondary, insuring any state could not prevent blacks from becoming United States citizens.

Fast forward to the 1980s and the overall affects of what Supreme Court decisions have been launched by the 14th Amendment. The most widely used interpretation of the 14th Amendment is the “equal protection” clause, which was argued in the 1982 case of Plyler v. Doe. In this case, Texas refused to finance the education of undocumented children and authorized local school districts to exclude these children from enrollment in public schools.

In the 5-4 decision (dissent Burger, White, Rehnquist and O’Connor) Justice Brennan writing for the Court, ruled that all persons regardless of citizenship or immigration status be extended the rights of any naturalized citizen. The Court believed it was not the children’s fault that the parents brought them here illegally and they should not be punished. They went further than any other court and defined in detail what birthright citizenship meant, which was that any child born in the jurisdiction of the United States was considered a United States citizen.

Today there seems to be little honor in politics where the current political climate is to have politicians catering to a constituency for votes, not adhering to their principles or what is right.

 One thing I can say for sure is that the majority of conservatives do not find this repeal appealing or believe it to be the issue. What I, and the majority believe, is that the federal government needs to close the borders and shut off the endless welfare benefits afforded, regardless of immigration status. The equal protection clause needs to be applied to natural-born citizens and legal immigrants — legal being the operative word.  The law used to state that immigrants would be issued a visa under these terms: that they have a sponsor family, would work to assimilate into American traditions, learn English as the primary language and would not require support from the public government sponsored programs such as welfare.

 This is a far cry from what we have today! The progressives have removed the need for people to learn from adversity by demanding that government take care of them and protect them from cradle to grave. This, along with over regulation, stifling taxes and demonizing success as embodied by the wealthy, has made people soft and unimaginative. This rugged individualism is what has made Americans and legal immigrants a step above all other countries. We can come to a compromise with legal immigration and those who wish to practice our way of life and exercise personal freedoms to be successful.

 The Arizona laws just enacted have had a positive affect on curbing illegal immigration by reducing the number of immigrants flocking into Arizona. The answer is not to mess with the Constitution, but instead to enforce what is already in place.

I don’t know about you, but I am one person who is tired of politicians who will do or say anything to get re-elected; no core values or principles, only wanting to retain power, influence and money.

I say boot them out and start new in Washington! Let me know your thoughts.

 Scott Lansley- former Maine Legislator, current Sabattus Selectman.


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