Dismantling the Constitution is the New Normal for Republicans When It Comes to Immigration Reform
The fringe notion that the United States should do away with birthright citizenship (which is what the 14th Amendment guarantees) is now going mainstream for the Republican Party. The next GOP debate is less than a month away. (Please contain your excitement.) It’s easy to envision one of the CNN moderators asking a simple question to all the candidates on stage. “Do you support birthright citizenship?” What’s not so easy to imagine is the spectacle of a legitimate future President arguing against something that has been such an integral and fundamental part of American history.
It seems like centuries ago since current GOP front-runner Donald Trump kicked off his campaign with some now infamous remarks about Mexicans. Trump hasn’t backed down and that candor now seems to reflect a genuine popularity — at least amongst certain Republican voters. He is currently perched at the top of polls nationally (and in Iowa and New Hampshire).
Perhaps to indicate that he is the real deal when it comes to running for President, Trump introduced his first policy agenda. Naturally, it’s all about immigration. In addition to pledging his support for building a wall and making Mexico pay for it, one of his other proposals is to end birthright citizenship.
Politicians have threatened to end birthright citizenship for decades. (And Donald Trump is not wrong to point out that Harry Reid introduced such legislation in 1993.) Earlier this year both Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Senator David Vitter (R-LA) introduced identical bills that would have eliminated birthright citizenship. King has been at the epicenter of some particularly xenophobic and appalling views when it comes to immigration, and he is one of the biggest GOP champions of abolishing the 14th Amendment.
Despite the fact that repealing the 14th Amendment would require immense government oversight, this absurd position is becoming the de facto stance for the GOP. Both Chris Christie and Scott Walker have announced their own evolving platforms to birthright citizenship. For Christie, “all this stuff needs to be reexamined.” Walker also told NBC News that birthright citizenship should come to an end. Bobby Jindal, who is apparently still running for President, also tweeted “We need to end birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants.” (Though, that statement makes little sense.)
Republicans are making a monumental mistake. There is absolutely no way a President can become elected in this country by backing the repeal of birthright citizenship.
After Republicans assessed the results of the 2012 election, they reached some pretty grim conclusions. The party simply could not win another Presidential election without broadening their voting coalition. Hispanics voted for Obama over Romney by 71% to 27%. After that election, the RNC started some aggressive new tactics to gain back Latino voters. Last March the RNC released an update to their Growth and Opportunity Project, noting that Hispanics would need to play a pivotal role for any Republican.
“If Hispanic Americans hear that the GOP doesn’t want them in the United States, they won’t pay attention to our next sentence.”
Every year approximately 800,000 Latinos turn 18. Hispanics represent a significant population in the crucial swing states of Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and Florida. Though immigration reform is just one of many issues that Hispanics prioritize, advocating for ending birthright citizenship is absolutely catastrophic for the Republican Party. And this is something the RNC already knows, at least judging from their Growth and Opportunity Project.
“In essence, Hispanic voters tell us our Party’s position on immigration has become a litmus test, measuring whether we are meeting them with a welcome mat or a closed door.”
Advocating for the repeal of birthright citizenship is the ultimate closed door.