Ever heard granny’s ham story? A husband won a prized country ham in a contest and when he got home, he handed it to his wife to cook. She immediately cut off both ends of the ham and placed it in a pan. When he asked his wife, “Why did you cut off the ends? You’re wasting good meat!” She replied, “That’s the way my mama always cooked a ham!”
Then he asked, “Why did she do that?” The wife didn’t know, so they called her mother. She said, “I don’t know; I’ve always done it that way. It’s how Granny taught me.” So they called Granny. “Why do you cut off the ends of the ham before you cook it?” And Granny responded, “So it will fit in the pan!”
But We’ve Always Done It That Way
“We’ve always done it that way!” I guarantee ya, we’ve all heard that comment uttered at work, in board meetings and around cafeteria tables. Someone starts a practice they thought was necessary to fix a problem and before long, it becomes a policy. Few people take the time to step back and ask, “Why are we doing this?” Few will dig deeper to see if there’s a better way, a smarter way.
I once worked at a call center where one full time person was dedicated to manually review paper based phone orders to see if they matched other computer generated documents. It was a great gig for that lady because she didn’t have to work the phones. No one really knew why she did it – they just assumed it was for a good reason. Turns out, it was a task started years earlier due to a computer malfunction, which got fixed just a few weeks later. It cost the company two years of one person’s salary, plus benefits and years of lost sales revenue dedicated to a process which was totally unnecessary. I was her new supervisor and out of curiosity asked the question, “What the heck is Mary doing and why is she doing it?”
Blindly Following a Flawed Policy Doesn’t Make it Right
Which leads me to my main point. Just because the 14th Amendment was misinterpreted decades ago to grant birthright citizenship for children of illegal immigrants, doesn’t mean it’s right to continue the practice.
There are a million and one issues wrapped up in how we deal with our broken immigration system, but using the 14th Amendment to justify continuing decades of poor policy isn’t smart. Especially since we spend big bucks on law enforcement, education, healthcare, housing, administration, courts, etc. Especially since it makes a mockery of our laws and sends a bad message to our youth that it’s okay to break the rules. Especially since it demoralizes those who take the time and effort to enter our country the right way.
The 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868 to provide citizenship to freed slaves and their children. It starts off referring to citizens as “…all persons born or naturalized in the U.S. and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” The phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” relates to the political allegiance a foreign government does or does not have over a person. The language was derived from the 1866 Civil Rights Act: “…all persons born in the U.S. and not subject to any foreign power” are considered citizens. In other words, they don’t owe allegiance to any other country and are subject to our complete jurisdiction.
But wait, there’s more!
I know you’re hankering for more specifics on why the 14th Amendment does NOT grant automatic citizenship to children of illegal immigrants. If so, you’ll love the article below. It’s extremely well written and easy to follow with very little legal mumbo-jumbo. Read it at:
Basically, I’m a big fan of following the rules, applying practices that are fair to those who DO follow the rules and being thoughtful about it when exceptions are necessary. (Human trafficking, drugs, etc. are big concerns we can’t ignore). We have systems in place that, while not perfect, are among the most generous in the world. We have granted lawful permanent resident status to an average of more than one million immigrants per year since 1999. Click here to see the U.S. Naturalizations 2016 Report.
We expect people to follow the rules so we can have a safe, functioning society. Don’t we expect our employees, co-workers, business owners, teachers, union reps and local government will abide by standards and policies? Don’t we spend millions of dollars each year to meet regulatory compliance requirements? My guess is, we also expect our children to follow certain household rules. So, why should immigration be any different? Is it because we have compassion and empathize with their plight? If so, does that become the standard by which we judge every situation — grant a blank check for people to do what they darned well please.
Of course not.
So, let’s stop trying to cut off the ends of that ham so it fits in the pan of our choosing.