Supporters of Arizona SB 1070, the controversial immigration bill that grants police broad authority to detain anyone “suspected” of being in the country illegally took great offense to the suggestion that the bill was racially motivated. They insisted, even after evidence surfaced that the author Senator Russell Pearce (R) was an open supporter of neo-fascist groups, that the bill was in no way tied to a blanket bias against Latinos. Now Sen. Pearce, no doubt inspired by what he sees as success in the passage of SB 1070, has decided it’s time to make his racism explicit and announced plans to push for legislation to deny citizenship to children of undocmented immigrants born in the United States. Just what will these supporters say now?
Pearce plans to move forward with this legislation despite the fact that it flies in the face of the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedent. The 14 Amendment clearly and specifically states that “[a]ll persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State where they reside.” If there was ever any doubt as to whether the 14th Amendment applied to children born of undocumented persons the Supreme Court swiftly put that doubt to rest in United States v. Wong Kim Ark when it held that anyone born in the United States would be a citizen regardless of their parents’ nationality.
Pearce and his supporters refer to children born in the United States to undocumented persons “anchor babies” a racially charged term used to dehumanize legal U.S. citizens. One of the emails circulating in connection with the legislation illustrates just how racist and offensive this group of purported law-makers really are: “[i]f we are going to have an effect on the anchor baby racket, we need to target the mother. Call it sexist, but that’s the way nature made it. Men don’t drop anchor babies, illegal alien mothers do.” Nice.
I wish I could say that this was some sort of anti-Latino fever contained within the borders of Arizona, but unfortunately it is not. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) has already come out in support of federal measures for the same kind of citizenship stripping, arguing essentially that he doesn’t care at all what the 14th Amendment states. For politicians who like to wave the Constitution around like a hanky, it’s getting pretty clear they’ve never actually given it a read.
photo courtesy of 4444 U.A.E. via Flickr