Cold Fury

Harshing your mellow since 9/01

Citizenship: a responsibility, not a right

Michael Anton, of “Flight 93 Election” fame, addresses “birthright citizenship” sophistry:

I have been accused of wanting to strip citizenship from those already born to illegal immigrants and thus already granted citizenship. Of course, I said nothing of the kind, nor does my argument demand any such conclusion. We may grant that our current understanding of birthright citizenship is a mistake and correct that mistake without retroactively stripping anyone of citizenship. Indeed, I believe that the American people in their generosity would support exactly such a measure. Correct the issue going forward. Make clear to the world that the United States will no longer grant birthright citizenship to the children of non-citizen illegal immigrants, birth tourists, or people here on temporary work or student visas. The citizenship of those already born would forever be honored—even enshrined into law if necessary.

This is a reasonable way forward. The alternative—illegal immigration, population growth, and all their attendant problems forever—is not sustainable. Nor is it—once again—in the interests of the current citizens of the United States, including those born to illegal immigrant parents.

Birthright citizenship—as I and others have argued—is a magnet for illegal immigration, an ongoing problem that worsens many of our other problems. The longer we continue the practice, the more illegal immigration we will get, with all its ensuing effects. As I have argued elsewhere, the United States does not need more people. We need to do a better job meeting the needs of the citizens we already have.

Birthright citizenship also undermines the consent-based social compact, which is the basis for the legitimacy of the U.S. government and for all our law, constitutional and otherwise. If we don’t have a social compact, we don’t have a country. A social compact that can be joined contrary to the will of its existing members is an impossibility, a self-contradiction.

It’s no wonder, then, that only around 30 countries out of nearly 200 practice birthright citizenship. The highest accounting that I have seen says 33. There are 197 countries in the world (193 UN members, two observers, and two non-members). Thus 83% of the world’s nations do not allow birthright citizenship. Those countries that do have a combined population of 958 million (in all cases, rounding estimates up in order not to be accused of fudging the numbers in my direction). According to the UN, the world population is today 7.6 billion. Our “conservatives” insist that opposition to birthright citizenship is “nativist, xenophobic, bigoted, racist, white nationalist, white supremacist” and more. This means that 6.642 billion of the world’s people (give or take) must also be “nativist, xenophobic, bigoted, racist, white nationalist, and white supremacist.” The latter two would truly be something, given how few of those people are white.

It’s an ugly thing to hear and read the worst of these epithets from ostensible allies. But of course, those hurling these calumnies are in no sense allies. That was clear in 2016, if not before, and it’s even clearer now. Clarity is good. Let’s all make clear where we stand on the issues of the day and in relation with others in the big tent we used to call “the Conservative Movement.”

It’s clear to me that those who use this kind of language are leftists—leftists in rhetoric and in philosophy.

That’s about the size of it, yeah.

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1 thought on “Citizenship: a responsibility, not a right

  1. WRT “birthright citizenship” I come at it from a different angle. I was born in Germany, the child of two American parents (Dad was an officer in the 11th Armored Cavalry guarding the border between West Germany and Czechoslovakia – two countries that no longer exist, at least not in the form they did back then.)

    For most of my life, I’ve had to jump through a couple of extra hoops when applying for government licenses and programs (social security card, enlisting in the military, student loans, security clearances, etc) because of my non-US birth. It’s not that big a deal, I keep copies of my State Department birth certificate and paperwork handy and available for just such occasions. And it’s not like my situation is unique – there are hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, or US citizens like me who were born abroad of US parents for various reasons.

    I was fortunate to be stationed in Germany for two years and I have nothing against those lovable Krauts, I don’t. They make great beer, awesome food, and are fun to party with. They make amazing cars and motorcycles (A BMW boxer twin sits in my garage right now.) They have an incredible history and culture, and have been world leaders in science, technology, and philosophy. Germany – at least the part of Bavaria I was stationed in from 1987 – 89 – is an almost surreally beautiful country.
    (OK, there was that whole “starting two world wars” business, and I’ll agree that’s something of a black mark on their history, but still, Germany is a pretty great place. )

    But I would never dream of claiming German citizenship. I’m not German, I’m American. Other than “Ein Bier Bitte” and “Wo ist die toilette?” I don’t speak German. I don’t think of myself as German, because I’m not German. My place of birth was a consequence of world events. Were I to try and claim German citizenship, I would expect “real” Germans to be as incensed about it as most of us are about “birth tourists” and children of illegals born across US borders simply for the purpose of taking advantage of our lax citizenship laws.

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