Updated 5-24-19: I wrote the Granny’s Ham Story article below in response to misleading media talking points and lots of uproar on the topic of birthright citizenship. Some state it is a right guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. It is not. To read what smart people have written on this issue, read this article.
Those who claim the 14th Amendment mandates that anyone born in the U.S. is automatically an American citizen are misinterpreting the amendment in a manner inconsistent with the intent of the amendment’s framers.
Then there’s this very comprehensive article on the history and legal rulings of this issue.
The industry of “birth tourism” has sprung up to abuse the immigration system, costing U.S. taxpayers big time.
Immigration fraud is alive and well. A recent federal indictment of 19 individuals on immigration fraud charges shows that a whole industry has grown up to bring pregnant women from other countries to the U.S. so their children can be born as American citizens.
This country has a serious immigration problem as a result of decades of lax enforcement, loopholes, employer exploitation and political infighting. As a result, we now have overburdened social welfare systems, schools, healthcare facilities, law enforcement, crime problems, and drugs flooding our country that kill thousands each year. If you haven’t been down on the border, you have no idea of the magnitude of the situation – for everyone concerned. And few media outlets report on the cost of illegal immigration — $116 billion dollars a year, 2/3 of which is absorbed by local and state taxpayers.
Now, let’s talk about compassion.
It is inhumane to allow children to be used as a foil and recycled over and over to falsely qualify as “family units” to enter our country. (DNA testing at the border has found that almost a third of those tested were not biologically related to the children in their custody.) It is inhumane to encourage the abuse and trafficking of young girls and women by looking the other way. It’s not compassionate to ignore the impact on communities and families who have lost loved ones. The burden this broken system imposes on U.S. citizens, as well as on the people who risk it all to enter the greatest country on earth, is unconscionable.
And those of us who support efforts to fix this problem are not bigots. We don’t fear people of color. We’re not anti-immigration. We’ve just been paying attention, listening to the experts, doing our own homework and ignoring the media spin. We recognize what eventually happens to a country that does not control its borders.
Don’t fall victim to media talking points. As Sharyl Attkisson, investigative journalist often states, “Think for yourself.” And as a tip to any business owner, try not to let politics impact the way you treat your customers.
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 what the framers intended or right to continue the practice. Of the 194 countries in the world, only 30 countries grant citizenship by unrestricted jus soli, which is Latin to mean “right of the soil” — the right of citizenship for being born in a particular country regardless of the parent’s nationality. The vast majority of countries that grant birthright citizenship are located in the Americas and the Caribbean. Read the Library of Congress Report, Birthright Citizenship Around the World.
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 make the commitment 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.
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. Children being “recycled” to accompany single adult men who aren’t their fathers who repeatedly embark on a deadly journey, 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.
We expect people to follow the rules so we can have a safe, functioning society. Don’t we expect our HR departments, accountants, engineers, employees, business owners, teachers, union reps and local government to 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 policies be any different?
Bottom line: let’s stop trying to cut off the ends of that ham so it fits into a distorted pan.