Response - Sacramento Bee
The following has been submitted in response to an editorial published on August 6, 2010, in the Sacramento Bee:
In a recent editorial, the Bee tries to smear the supporters of birthright citizenship reform as “heirs” to white supremacists of the 1920’s. To make this outrageous comparison, the editors resort to the tactic of equating legitimate concern over illegal immigration with opposition to all immigration.
The Bee then feels free to tar supporters of birthright citizenship reform as racists like Senator James Phelan, who sought to ban all legal immigration from Asia. It then insinuates that today’s reformers would have opposed the landmark 1898 Supreme Court decision that upheld the birthright citizenship of Wong Kim Ark, the child of legal – repeat, legal – Chinese immigrants and their descendants.
I challenge the editors to cite one statement that any Congressional advocate of this reform has made that even remotely suggests barring legal immigrants to our nation or denying their children all the rights of citizenship. Indeed, I have extolled the virtues of legal immigration throughout my entire career in public office.
Our nation was built upon legal immigration: the process by which immigrants come to America in order to become Americans and to fully assimilate into American society. Illegal immigration undermines the entire process of legal immigration that makes our nation of immigrants possible.
The issue is whether the 14th Amendment, a Reconstruction measure to assure citizenship for the children of slaves, should continue to be used to provide automatic citizenship to babies born to illegal aliens who by law are subject to deportation. Should an illegal act be rewarded by granting a legal right? If the answer is “yes,” then how can we maintain immigration laws or borders at all?
In recent years, the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, France and India have all modified their birthright citizenship laws to require that one parent at least be a legal resident of the nation in order to confer citizenship. According to a June 2010 Rasmussen poll, the American people support such a reform by a margin of 58 to 33 percent. Do the Bee’s editors seriously contend that 58 percent of the nation’s voters are actually white supremacists?
At a time when a civil discussion is needed, it is a shame that the Bee’s editorial staff has chosen instead to stoop to shopworn epithets of racism.