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“Non-Citizens, United”: Republicans Want To Create A New Social Stratum Of Sub-Citizens

Lots of leading Republicans are saying they want to pass “immigration reform” this year. But those scare-quotes are there for good reason — the reform many of them are talking about is an assortment of bad ideas, most of them involving multiple layers of enforcement — the fence-‘em-out, lock-‘em-up strategy that has been failing America for, oh, the last quarter-century.

It’s an old, familiar line. But there is one new idea in the Republican mix. It’s legalization without citizenship – giving some of the 11 million unauthorized immigrants a chance to live and work here, but not to become Americans.  Not now, probably not ever.

America sees itself as a land of opportunity and equality, but Republicans want to carve out an exception. If you have ever been “illegal,” no citizenship for you.

The Republican National Committee passed a resolution opposing “any form of amnesty that would propose a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens.”

United States Representative Bob Goodlatte, the Virginia Republican who heads the House Judiciary Committee, told a town hall meeting in Verona, Va., that he opposes the immigration bill that passed the Senate because it contains what he calls a “special path” to citizenship.

“The folks who want to have a path to citizenship have held everything else hostage,” Mr. Goodlatte said. “Now we want to say, ‘Look, we understand what you want, but we think a legal status in the United States but not a special path to citizenship might be appropriate.’”

That Senate bill he was criticizing has a lot of enforcement measures that Republicans insisted on. It also contains a long, difficult, expensive but at least potentially achievable path to move from unauthorized immigrant to American.

Polls show that most Americans agree with the Senate’s approach. They support giving immigrants a chance to naturalize, as long as they get right with the law and go to the back of the citizenship line. But hard-core Republicans don’t want that, and those were the people Mr. Goodlatte was trying not to rile up.

Immigration-reform advocates are turning up the heat this month with rallies and town-hall meetings, warning the world that the Republican option — creating a new social stratum of sub-citizens — is not acceptable. These are the citizens and aspiring citizens whom Mr. Goodlatte is likening to hostage-takers.

Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigrant organization America’s Voice, is right: “America is at its best when we extend the welcome mat to people regardless of race, religion and national origin, and we have been at our worst when we don’t.”

Or, as the guitarist Ry Cooder put it in a song on his politically enraged 2011 album, “Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down”

Republicans changed the lock on Heaven’s door.
Keys to the kingdom don’t fit no more.

 

By: Lawrence Downes, Editors Blog, The New York Times, August 20, 2013

August 21, 2013 Posted by | Immigration Reform, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Not All Birthers Are The Same”: No, Ted Cruz ‘Birthers’ Are Not The Same As Obama Birthers

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Monday released his birth certificate, seeking to put to rest questions about whether the Canadian-born senator is qualified to run for president in 2016.

Immediately, parallels were drawn to President Obama’s 2011 release of his own birth certificate, which also was meant to end lingering questions about his eligibility to be president.

And for the few in the birther community, they see hypocrisy. Why are the media not denouncing those who question Cruz’s eligibility in the same way they have denounced the so-called “birthers” who continue to question Obama’s?

The reason? Because about the only thing these two situations have in common is that they involve a birth certificate and a presidential candidate.

Questions about Cruz’s eligibility have everything to do with interpretation of the law; the questions about Obama’s eligibility had everything to do with a dispute over the underlying facts — more specifically, conspiracy theories about whether the president was actually born in the United States, as he claimed, and whether he somehow forged a birth certificate that said he was born in Hawaii.

In Cruz’s case, nobody is disputing the underlying facts of the case — that Cruz was born in Canada to a Cuban father and a mother who was a United States citizen. As we wrote back in March, that makes him a U.S. citizen himself, but it’s not 100 percent clear that that is the same thing as a “natural born citizen” — the requirement for becoming president.

Most scholars think it’s the same thing, and the Congressional Research Service said in 2011 that someone like Cruz “most likely” qualifies to run for president. But to this point, there is no final word from the courts, because while foreign-born candidates have run — including George Romney and John McCain — none of them has actually won and had his eligibility challenged.

Obama was also born to a mother who was a U.S. citizen, meaning if he was in fact born outside the United States, the situations might be parallel. But birthers weren’t making a legal argument about Obama; they were arguing the facts about where he was born and accusing him of perpetrating a massive fraud.

Some will accuse the media of instituting a double standard when it comes to these two cases because Cruz is a Republican and Obama is a Democrat. But nobody is accusing Cruz of lying about his past as part of a vast conspiracy to become president.

It’s just not an apples-to-apples comparison.

By: Aaron Blake, The Washington Post, August 19, 2013

August 20, 2013 Posted by | Birthers, Conspiracy Theories | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Shunning People Away”: Kansas Secretary Of State Kris Kobach’s Bold New Plan To Keep People From Voting

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has become a national figure by advising other states on how to implement anti-immigrant and voter suppression measures, has come up with a new creative way to make it harder for Kansans to vote: barring those who register to vote with a federal form from casting ballots in state elections.

Back in June, the Supreme Court struck down an Arizona elections law that required those registering to vote to show proof of citizenship beyond what is required by federal voter registration forms. In Kansas, Kobach has been struggling to deal with the implementation of a similar proof-of-citizenship law, which has left the voting status of at least 12,000 Kansans in limbo.

These voters, many of whom registered with the federal “motor voter” form at the DMV, were supposed to have their citizenship information automatically updated, a process that was delayed by a computer glitch. Kobach then suggested that these 12,000 voters be forced to cast provisional ballots – a suggestion that the state elections board rejected.

Now, the Lawrence Journal-World reports, Kobach has a new idea to deal with the problem that he created. The paper reports that Kobach is considering a plan to circumvent the Supreme Court’s decision in the Arizona case by creating two classes of voters. Under this plan, those who register with a federal form would be allowed to vote only in federal elections until they produced the state-required citizenship documents. Those who meet the state registration requirements would then be allowed to vote in state-level elections.

In Kansas, a new state law requires proof of citizenship to register to vote.

Kobach, a Republican who pushed for that law, said he is considering a proposed rule change that would allow those who use the federal form to register to vote to be allowed to vote in federal elections, such as presidential and congressional contests. The federal voter registration form does not require proof of citizenship documents, but includes a signed sworn statement that the individual is a U.S. citizen.

But those people would not be allowed to vote in state elections, such as contests for governor, other statewide offices and the Legislature.

Those who register to vote by providing proof of citizenship will be able to vote in both federal and state elections under the proposal.

Voting rights advocates in the state are understandably skeptical:

Dolores Furtado, president of the League of Women Voters of Kansas, said she would strongly oppose such a plan.

“It won’t work,” Furtado said. “When we can’t handle registrations, the process of applications and processing registrations, how are we going to separate ballots?” she said. “This is creating a problem. Whenever we make things complex, people shun away.”

When the elections board rejected his provisional ballots plan, Kobach was taken aback, saying that those who register to vote with the motor voter form aren’t likely to vote anyway, so disenfranchising 12,000 of them wasn’t “a major problem.” That seems to be his justification for the two classes of voter plan as well.  According to the World-Journal, “Kobach said few Kansans register to vote using the federal form, so it shouldn’t affect too many voters.”

 

By: Miranda Blue, Right Wing Watch, August 2, 2013

August 4, 2013 Posted by | Civil Rights, Voting Rights | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Taxation Without Representation”: American Citizens Sould Be Treated Like American Citizens

Vice President Joe Biden is right: There should be two senators from the District of Columbia, not to mention at least one voting member of the U.S. House. Americans living in the U.S. capital, in other words, should have the basic rights of citizenship that they are currently denied.

The fact that more than 630,000 U.S. citizens living in the United States of America are not represented in Congress is an outrage and an insult to the most fundamental right due to all American citizens: representation in government. Remember the American Revolution (and the original tea party)? They were complaining about taxation without representation. More than two centuries later those residing in what should be the living symbol of democratic ideals of representative government are experiencing taxation without representation.

As a point of comparison, imagine the outrage if Boston (with an estimated 2011 population of more than 625,000) was removed from the congressional map; or Seattle (more than 620,000 as of 2011); or Milwaukee (597,000 in 2011); Las Vegas (589,000 in 2011); or Atlanta (432,000 in 2011).

This is a mostly but not entirely partisan issue, though it is often seen through that rather puerile lens. It’s gotten support from prominent conservatives like Ken Starr and Viet Dinh. And at least partial restoration of these basic American rights nearly occurred four years ago before it was derailed by – wait for it – a squabble over gun rights.

Parting thought: For the first 10 years of the District of Columbia’s existence, before it became the seat of the federal government in 1800, D.C. citizens had congressional representation. When Maryland and Virginia ceded the land to the government for the creation of the District, those living there were still allowed to vote in their old states’ congressional and legislative races. Once the federal government moved to D.C., those basic rights were revoked. That revocation is a festering wound on the country’s democratic spirit.

Congress gaveth and then tooketh away … it’s time it giveth back.

 

By: Robert Schlesinger, U. S. News and World Report, May 3, 2013

May 6, 2013 Posted by | Civil Rights, Democracy | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Birther Hypocrisy”: Right Wing Has No Problem With Canadian Born Senator Ted Cruz Running For President

A great moment in the annals of birtherism took place last week at CPAC….and nobody much appeared to notice.

Shortly after Sarah Palin finished cooing over the introduction she had received from Senator Ted Cruz—during which the half-term governor reminded us that we need more people like the Texas Senator in Washington—Palin turned her attention to President Obama’s support for background checks for those who wish to purchase a gun.

“More background checks?” Palin asked. “Dandy idea, Mr. President -should’ve started with yours.”

While Palin’s return to birtherism accomplished the intended laugh from the appreciative crowd, there was someone in the room who was likely not laughing.

That would be Senator Ted Cruz—the man who so glowingly introduced Ms. Palin and a man who clearly views himself as being on a populist track to the White House. He’s not alone in that regard as four percent of the votes registered in the CPAC straw poll were cast in support of Mr. Cruz, the man often referred to as the Republican Barack Obama.

Ironically, there can be little doubt that among those who expressed their support for a Cruz presidency at CPAC were attendees who continue to question the current president’s constitutional right to hold the office.

I say it is ironic because, while so many on the Right invested heavily in making the argument that Barack Obama lacked constitutional qualification to be our Commander In Chief due to his alleged foreign birth in Kenya, it turns out that Tea Party hero Cruz finds himself in precisely the same circumstance—except that Cruz’s foreign point of origin is openly acknowledged.

Ted Cruz was born in Calgary, Canada, the son of an American mother and a Cuban father. Were we to buy into the birtherism claim that Obama was, indeed, born in Kenya, then he too would have been foreign born as the son of an American mother and a father who was a citizen of a foreign land.

While the controversy that has dogged President Obama has focused on the President’s claim that he came into the world in a hospital in Hawaii, if we are to accept the argument of birther-in-chief Donald Trump—who made a ‘name’ for himself in politics by alleging that the President had, indeed, been born in a foreign country—then there is no way that Senator Cruz could be qualified to run for the presidency.

Yet, there is no shortage of Cruz supporters who are prepared to argue that he is a natural born American, despite being born in Canada. Why? Because his mother was, unquestionably, an American citizen at the time of Cruz’s birth.

But is being born to an American mother in a foreign land enough to meet the constitutional requirements to hold the office?

The United States Constitution requires that a candidate for the office of the president be a “natural-born” citizen. While what constitutes a natural born citizen is not defined in the text of the Constitution and has never been directly addressed by the Supreme Court, we do know that there have been laws promulgated that defines the status of a child born outside of the United States to parents where either one or both are American citizens.

According to the State Department—

Birth Abroad to Two U.S. Citizen Parents in Wedlock

A child born abroad to two U.S. citizen parents acquires U.S. citizenship at birth under section 301(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provided that one of the parents had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions prior to the child’s birth. The child is considered to be born in wedlock if the child is the genetic issue of the married couple.”

It would thus appear that for Senator Cruz to qualify as a natural-born citizen under this paragraph, (a) both of his parents would need to be U.S. citizens at the time of birth; and (b) one of the parents had a residence in the US at the time of birth.

Senator Cruz’s mother was clearly an American citizen—having been born in Delaware—at the time she gave birth to her son. However, Mr. Cruz’s father was a Cuban immigrant who, according to a statement issued this week by Cruz’s spokesman, was not an American citizen prior to his taking his wife to Canada to work in the oil business.

Thus, under this definition, it would appear that an argument could be successfully made that Senator Cruz is not a natural-born U.S. citizen.

It is worth noting that other candidates for president have fallen under this definition of qualification. Governor George Romney was born in Mexico to two parents who were both American citizens at the time of his birth. Thus, there were no serious challenge set forth to Romney’s meeting the constitutional test of being a natural born citizen.

There is, however, an additional definition that could cover Senator Cruz as set forth by the State Department:

“Birth Abroad to One Citizen and One Alien Parent in Wedlock

A child born abroad to one U.S. citizen parent and one alien parent acquires U.S. citizenship at birth under Section 301(g) of the INA provided the U.S. citizen parent was physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for the time period required by the law applicable at the time of the child’s birth. (For birth on or after November 14, 1986, a period of five years physical presence, two after the age of fourteen, is required. For birth between December 24, 1952 and November 13, 1986, a period of ten years, five after the age of fourteen, is required for physical presence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions to transmit U.S. citizenship to the child.) The U.S. citizen parent must be genetically related to the child to transmit U.S. citizenship.”

Under this definition, it would seem clear that Senator Cruz would meet the qualifications to run for President as his mother lived in the United States for at least ten years after she was fourteen years of age prior to going to Canada (note that the rule does not require that the ten years be consecutive.)

Accordingly, it appears—at least to me—that Senator Cruz is in the clear should he decide to take a run at the White House.

But…if you agree that Cruz is constitutionally qualified to seek the presidency and you are one of those who expended so much energy going after President Obama’s qualifications as a natural-born citizen, many of us would like to know how you justify such blatant hypocrisy? After all, even if Obama was born in Kenya, he was born to a mother who was an American citizen at her birth and who had also spent the requisite amount of her life after turning fourteen years of age living in the United States (see update on this law at the end of the article.)

To get an answer to this question, I reached out to Donald Trump’s office to get his take on this issue as he would appear to consider himself a leading authority on this subject.

At the time of publication of this article, there has been no response from Mr. Trump.

Again, my own understanding of how we have treated the question of natural-born citizenship would conclude that Senator Cruz is fully qualified under the Constitution to seek the top office in the land if that should be his wish. He was never naturalized as an American citizen because it was never necessary to do so. He was one of us from the moment he arrived in this world.

But if Cruz is qualified, there can be no argument that Barack Obama was not qualified in the same way, even if you choose to believe that he is Kenyan born. To allow the blatant hypocrisy of those who spent endless hours of time and untold sums of money seeking to discredit Barack Obama only to now be perfectly willing to give Senator Cruz a pass on the subject would simply be wrong and cannot be allowed, now or in the future should Cruz seek the office, to pass unnoticed.

UPDATE: A reader correctly notes that when Barack Obama was born, his mother was three months shy of her 19th birthday which means that had he been born in Kenya, his mother would not have reached the 5 years after her 14th birthday as required by the law for him to be a natural born American. This is true. However, subsequent acts of Congress relaxed the requirement to a total number of years a parent must live in the U.S. to five years, including just two years after the age of 14 (note that this happened long before Obama entered political life.) This means that Obama’s mother would have still qualified even if the President was born in Kenya and his mother was just 16. What’s more Congress made the law retroactive to 1952. As Obama was born in 1961, he would be a natural born citizen under the same law cited in the article.

 

By: Rick Ungar, Op-Ed Contributor, Forbes, March 21, 2013

March 22, 2013 Posted by | Birthers | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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