GOP Establishment`s Epiphany on Birthright Citizenship—Be Optimistic AND Suspicious!

Recently, I wrote a

piece
about how the usual suspects were getting
worried that Birthright Citizenship reform was gaining
traction. At that time, its advocates amounted to just

Congressman Duncan Hunter Jr.;
a few heroic state
legislators such as

Russell Pearce of Arizona
,

Randy Terrill of Oklahoma
, and

Leo Berman of Texas
; and Tea Party Senate Candidates
Rand Paul and Sharron Angle. (Congressman
Ron
Paul
has also long been a supporter, but didn`t make
much of the issue when he ran for president).

I was glad to see the issue move
forward. But I would have never guessed that, within
three weeks, the House and Senate Republican
Establishment would come out in support of ending
Birthright Citizenship—or at least to begin exploring
the issue! Significantly, Treason Lobby reaction has
been

particularly hysterical
.

Dealing with the “Anchor
Baby
loophole was always seen as the ambitious edge of the patriotic
immigration reform movement. Virtually no Democrat would
support it, including even some otherwise courageous
illegal immigration opponents such as

Heath Shuler (D-NC.)

No one in the Senate has taken up
the issue in the last decade.


Nathan Deal
`s (R-GA) bills to repeal Birthright
Citizenship—by either statute or Constitutional
Amendment, both are options—routinely got somewhere
between 50 and 100 co-sponsors, depending on the year.
But the House Republican leadership never backed it.

Indeed, in a very

widely publicized debate
during the 2008 election,
when
Virgil Goode
(R-VA) brought up the issue, his
opponent Tom Periello was able to respond that virtually
no Republicans supported it!

Our self-consciously moderate
friends like Center for Immigration Studies`

Mark Krikorian
had opposed it as impractical (more
on him later). The pseudo-restrictionists such as
National Review`s

Ramesh Ponnuru
called it absolutely off-limits. [Born
In The USA,
February 27, 2006, issue of
NR, reprinted
(!) on NRO, August 10, 2010]

Yet in the last two weeks, one
after another member of the Republican congressional
leadership has jumped on to the anti-Birthright
Citizenship bandwagon.

It began when Senator Lindsey
Graham (R-SC)

told Fox News
on July 29,

“I may introduce a constitutional amendment that changes the rules if
you have a child here…Birthright Citizenship I think is
a mistake … We should change our Constitution and say
if you come here illegally and you have a child, that
child`s automatically not a citizen.”

Since then, Senators John McCain
(R-AZ), John Kyl (R-AZ), John Cornyn (R-TX) Jeff
Sessions (R-AL), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Senate
minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have expressed
interest. Then, on Meet the Press, House Minority Leader
John Boehner

said
that an end to Birthright Citizenship was

"worth
considering."

Senators Sessions and Grassley have
been solid on fighting both legal and illegal
immigration. But neither have addressed Birthright
Citizenship up until now. When Sessions created his

15 point immigration policy
quiz for Republican
presidential candidates in 2008, Birthright Citizenship
was not mentioned.

The other Republican Senators have
been unreliable to terrible on immigration. McCain and
Graham have been the two most pro-amnesty Republicans in
the Senate. Cornyn, Kyl, and McConnell all voted for
cloture for amnesty a.k.a to pass it in 2006, and Kyl
and McConnell voted for the final bill. In 2007, Cornyn
and Kyl teamed up with George Bush to create a new
amnesty plan, which they only abandoned when their
constituents found up what they were up to. And
McConnell and Kyl both voted for cloture of the 2007
amnesty, only to reverse their position once it was
clear they would lose.

Forgive me for being cynical—but I
find it unlikely that these men have had an epiphany and
became immigration reform patriots over night. I suggest
there are some ulterior motives:




1)     



Helping John McCain Defeat
JD Hayworth in the Arizona Primary

This was the initial assumption of
most Washington people I`ve spoken to. With immigration
reform patriot
J.D.
 Hayworth

challenging McCain in the primary, the much-touted
maverick”
has done an astonishing 180 and has campaigned as tough
on immigration. Not coincidentally, a June 29 Rasmussen
Poll found that Arizona Republican voters opposed
Birthright Citizenship 84%-10%, with the state as a
whole opposing it 64-26%. [64%
in Arizona Say Children of Illegal Immigrants Should Not
Automatically Become U.S. Citizens
, Rasmussen
Reports, July 5, 2010]

Lindsey Graham is known as McCain`s
top lackey in the Senate, and the fact that Graham first
brought up Birthright Citizenship reform would tend to
confirm this theory.

That said, McCain is now

polling far ahead
of Hayworth. Unfortunately, he has
apparently already succeeded in

conning plenty of voters into thinking he`s a
restrictionist.
Moreover, McCain`s statements on
Birthright Citizenship have been relatively tepid,
saying that

"I believe that the Constitution is a strong, complete and carefully
crafted document that has successfully governed our
nation for centuries and any proposal to amend the
Constitution should receive extensive and thoughtful
consideration,"
[Republicans
want review of Birthright Citizenship
,
Ben
Evans, Associated
Press
, August 4, 2010]

And it seems unlikely that the
entire Republican Establishment would take up the issue
just to help John McCain.




2)     



Helping Republicans Defeat
Democrats in the General Election

There are two groups of Republicans
who could truly benefit from the party leadership taking
a strong stand against the
“Anchor Baby”
loophole.

The first group: right-wing
Republicans, who would be made to appear more moderate.
Thus, while the Republican Establishment viciously
opposed Tea Party favorites

Rand Paul
(KY) and

Sharron Angle
(NV) in the primaries, they still
would rather see Republicans win the races. Both Paul
and Angle have been vocal about ending Birthright
Citizenship and accordingly have been labeled extremists
by their opponents and the MainStream Media (same thing,
really). But if the establishment of the GOP supports
the same position, these candidates look more
mainstream.

The second group: GOP opponents of
conservative

“Blue Dog”
Democrats
who oppose amnesty—at least

in their platforms
. For example, in the Indiana
Senate race, Democrat Brad Ellsworth has a much stronger
record on immigration than Republican Dan Coats. But
Birthright Citizenship reform could well be a bridge too
far for Democrats like Ellsworth. It could become the
only way for Republicans like Coats to appear as more
restrictionist.

However, this strategy presupposes
that the

Stupid Party
is getting smarter, or at least more
cunning.


3) Prelude to Guest Workers…or Worse

The standard line of the Republican
and conservative Establishment is that a

guest worker program is needed
in addition to
immigration control. Of course, the most obvious
objection to temporary workers is that they tend to
become permanent. One way they certainly do become
permanent is by having US-born citizen children. Ending
Birthright Citizenship, or at least talking about it,
would give the corporate Republicans more cover to
support a guest worker program.

This strategy is not completely
new. In 2006,

horse rancher
and Loctite heiress

Helen Krieble and the Heritage Foundation
teamed up
with Mike Pence`s (R-IN) to write an

alternative amnesty bill
with an emphasis on cheap
labor. But Heritage and Pence found they had provoked a
massive backlash. In damage control mode, Heritage`s
government relations team floated the idea of exchanging
Birthright Citizenship for Amnesty.

But that didn`t work either and
Heritage and Pence quickly retreated from amnesty. Both
have been solid on
illegal immigration ever since.

However, Heritage continues to push
for guest workers. In the wake of the current hoopla,
the Heritage Foundation is emphasizing its opposition to
Birthright Citizenship.

Krieble
continues to
push for amnesty/guest worker programs and has since
said she

supported ending Birthright Citizenship
in
conjunction with it.

Lindsey Graham has actually
admitted that his newfound opposition to Birthright
Citizenship is to make an amnesty/guest worker plan more
palatable to conservatives, in an interview with

National Review`s

Daniel Foster:

FOSTER:
“Isn`t a bit of this, frankly, strategic? Aren`t you
looking for ways to bring conservatives on board with
the more comprehensive immigration reform that you
favor? Is that fair to say?”

GRAHAM:
“Yeah, I think it`s fair to say that I need to go home
to South Carolina and say: listen, I know we`re all
upset that we have 12-14 million people illegally. I`m
going to have to be practical. We`re not going to deport
or jail 12-14 million people. A practical solution is
not awarding this citizenship on day one, but to allow
them to stay here on our terms, learn our language, pay
a fine, hold a job, and apply for citizenship through
the legal process by getting in the back of the legal
line.

“That
to me is a practical solution. But, I have to be able to
say, as part of doing that, we looked at all the
incentives that led to the 12-13 million coming, and we
changed them. That we did secure our border, unlike any
other time in the past, that we now have laws that make
it possible to verify employment; we now have a
temporary worker program that will allow people to come
here and work on our terms temporarily, and help our
employers with labor when they can`t find American
labor…”

[Birth
of a Strategy: Talking Immigration With Lindsey Graham
,
Daniel Foster,
National Review Online
, August 6, 2010]





4) 
Creating the fraudulent
appearance of being tough

In my

last piece
, I

quoted
James Pinkerton who argued that the Arizona
lawsuit could become the next

Roe vs. Wade
,
galvanizing the grassroots against the elites.

But here is an unfortunate flipside
to this analogy. Like abortion restriction, immigration
control is an issue that the

grassroots of the GOP
supports much more than the DC
establishment. The Establishment has cynically used the
Right To Life issue to raise money and elect
politicians—but
nothing meaningful has been done since
Roe vs. Wade
to restrict abortion
.

All that has occurred is
peripheral: prohibitions of a few procedures, such as
partial birth that made up a grand total of

0.17%
of abortions prior to the ban; parental
consent laws and other acts that do not make much of a
difference in terms of actually stopping or reducing the
number of abortions each year.

Still, every four years, Right to
Lifers fight hard to add the Human Life Amendment to the
GOP platform. They duly win a symbolic victory. And
nothing more is done.

The same dynamics can be seen in
the same sex marriage debate. The GOP won big in 2004 by
piggybacking onto the

Federal Marriage Amendment
—which thereafter failed
to pass. Six years later—as

liberal commentators have noticed
—it is not doing
much to oppose the

Federal Court decision forcing gay marriage on
California.

Note also that Birthright
Citizenship could be ended by statute, like any other
piece of legislation. But, suspiciously, these
Establishment Republicans all propose ending Birthright
Citizenship by a Constitutional Amendment.

It is very tough to get 67 Senators
to support any Amendment. So this could just allow the
GOP to make an empty gesture against illegal
immigration, and then blame the Democrats for the fact
that nothing changes.

Regardless of what you think about
social issues, the patriotic immigration reform movement
does not want to follow in the failed footsteps of the
Right to Lifers and (maybe) the defenders of traditional
marriage.

But don`t get me wrong about all
this. Despite the duplicitous motives of Lindsey Graham
and the GOP Establishment, the fact that Birthright
Citizenship is now getting discussed is real reason to
celebrate.

One thing is for sure: if it was
not for the overwhelming support among Americans for the
ending of Birthright Citizenship, the GOP Establishment
would not be doing anything at all. It is only because
people such as Virgil Goode and Russell Pearce had the
courage to push the issue, regardless of being
denigrated as
“extremist”
, that the issue is now becoming
mainstream.

As I said earlier, not everyone in
the patriotic immigration reform movement is happy about
this new development. Writing in
National Review,
Mark Krikorian argues:

“The
phenomenon of citizen-children of illegal aliens is a
symptom
of too much illegal immigration, not a
cause. Comprehensive immigration enforcement — abroad,
at the borders, and in the interior — plus deep,
permanent cuts in future legal immigration (which is the
catalyst for
illegal immigration
) are the solution, because
when we have less illegal immigration, we`ll have fewer
kids born to illegals and the problem goes away. I`m
afraid that if the citizenship issue makes progress, the
libertarians will co-opt us, backing the citizenship
change as a way of diverting attention from real
immigration control.

“I hope
I don`t get in trouble with my friends for this, and
there are indeed people I respect who disagree with me,
but there`s a sense in which, just as


anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools
, an
inordinate focus on Birthright Citizenship is the
restrictionism of fools — and Lindsey Graham is strong
evidence for that claim.”

[Lindsey
Graham, Tough Guy?,
Mark Krikorian,
National Review
Online
, July 29, 2010, hyperlinks in original]

As usual with

Krikorian triangulation
, he makes some legitimate
points, but misses the larger issue.

After all, tons of politicians and
libertarians use

Official English
, or ending

driver`s licenses
and

in-state tuition
for illegal aliens, as a way to
sound relatively tough on illegal immigration without
dealing with the underlying issues of

legal immigration
,

border security
, and

interior enforcement
.

And, just as Krikorian says about
Birthright Citizenship, we wouldn`t need to worry about
making

English
the official language of the US if we didn`t
have
millions of Hispanic immigrants
. We wouldn`t have to
ban illegal aliens from getting in-state tuition or
welfare benefits if they weren`t here to begin with.

Of course, most illegal aliens do
not come to this country so their children can get

in-state tuition at colleges.
Ending these policies
and nothing else would only put a small dent in the illegal
immigration crisis.

But does that mean we shouldn`t
worry about these issues?

Of course not! Politicians will be
politicians. The fact that they may cynically exploit a
good issue does not mean we should abandon it. Rather we
need to hold the politicians responsible both for the
issues they try to hide behind
and the issues
they try to hide from.

Even if these seemingly secondary
issues are not the cause and solution of our immigration
mess, dealing with them sends a message to illegal
aliens: they are
not welcome in our country
.

Krikorian has opposed ending
Birthright Citizenship on pragmatic grounds long before
Graham and co. discovered it. In the past, he has said
that ending Birthright Citizenship is a waste of
political capital that would simply lead to a population
of illegal alien children born here, who would be more
propaganda for amnesty.

But the fact that the Republicans
Establishment is now trying to use Birthright
Citizenship reform to
gain political capital refutes of the first part of this argument.
In early June, Rasmussen Reports asked,
“Should Child of
Illegal Immigrant Automatically Be a Citizen?”

American voters opposed this, 58-33% and Republicans
opposed it 76-19%. [58%
Say No to Citizenship for Children of Illegal Immigrants
,
Rasmussen Reports, June 3, 2010; detailed response not
available without subscription]

Keep in mind this poll was taken
two months ago, when virtually no one would openly
support ending Birthright Citizenship. With some more
leadership and attention, the gap will widen.

As for the kids, as I have
previously noted, it is already virtually impossible to

deport an illegal alien with a US citizen child.

That`s exactly why they`re called
“anchor babies”.

The Number One emotional argument
against deportation and for amnesty used by the Open
Borders crowd is how terrible it is to split families.
Of course, as a matter of logic,
US
citizen children can go back home with their parents
.
But, unfortunately, many Americans who haven`t thought
too much about the issue often naturally respond:
“But shouldn`t American citizens live in America?”—without even
wondering why the illegal alien`s child is a citizen to
begin with.

Challenging Birthright Citizenship
completely dispels that argument.
Even if we do not
immediately succeed in ending the policy, the mere fact
that it is being debated will convince Americans that


we can and should
deport illegal aliens with anchor babies.

Immigration reform patriots do not
need to “pick
their battles”
against America`s post-1965
immigration disaster.

Rather, fighting the anchor baby
loophole is just another action in the same battle.

It`s all part of the patriot
version of “Comprehensive Immigration Reform”.

"Washington Watcher" [email
him
] is an anonymous source Inside The
Beltway.