Time to Modify the 14th Amendment


The Sunday morning political talk shows like ABC’s “This Week” (hosted yesterday by Christiane Amanpour) and NBC’s “Meet the Press” all took note of Lindsey Graham’s recent proposal to modify the 14th amendment so that children born to illegal immigrants aren’t automatically granted citizenship, removing a lure for people to enter the U.S. illegally to have “anchor babies.”  Almost universally, he and fellow Republicans are being derided as extremists, willing to play games with the U.S. Constitution in a cynical bid to score points with constituents riled up by the whole Arizona immigration law debate. 

They are not extremists; Lindsey Graham should be commended for taking on an issue that’s long, long overdue; the majority of Americans agree; and, though the constitution is a work of genius, it’s rapidly becoming antiquated and ambiguous.  Our founding fathers could never envision the day when money would be equated with “speech,” when multi-national corporations would be considered “the people,” and when invading hordes would be granted citizenship. 

If the founding fathers were all-knowing, the constitution wouldn’t need to have been amended in 1868 with the 14th amendment to assure that southern states would grant citizenship to slaves and their children, people brought here forcibly.  Nor could the writers of the 14th amendment have envisioned that, one day, their amendment would be used to lure people here illegally.  Consider that, under the 14th amendment, any children born to the families of an invading army, if born on U.S. soil, would automatically be granted citizenship, even if the invading country were eventually defeated and driven out.  The situation with illegal immigrants is little different. 

In addition, at a time when our founding fathers scarcely understood the extent of the still-unexplored western reaches of our continent, they could never possibly conceive of the day when our land would become so populated that we’d be utterly dependent on hostile, foreign sources of energy for our very survival while congress sat idly by and did nothing about it.  Not to mention the effect upon the economy, steadily driving more of our people into poverty and dependence on government assistance.  If they could have envisioned such a time, they may very well have included in the constitution a provision for congress to enact population policy and manage our population.  (See https://petemurphy.wordpress.com/more-good-stuff/29th-amendment-to-the-constitution-of-the-united-states/)

I was particularly struck by the very last two paragraphs of the above-linked article:

But Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) says it’s been more than a century since the Supreme Court has weighed in on the issue — and it’s long overdue. Bilbray has been fighting since the 1990s to change the 14th Amendment citizenship clause. He says in these tough economic times, the law must be reviewed.

“When you say there’s not enough to go around for those who are here legally — or those playing by the rules — you sort of say, ‘Why do we continue to have an enticement to encourage people to break the law?'” he says.

Unbelievable!  A politician who understands the crux of the situation!  Clearly, there’s not enough to go around – not enough jobs, not enough energy, not enough capacity in the environment to absorb greenhouse gases.  I could go on.  And if there’s not enough to go around, why in the world do we encourage more and more to come here? 

A couple of years ago, as an independent, I encourage others to vote for our president, based on his promise to begin fixing broken trade policy and based on the fact that there was no difference between him and his opponent on the subject of illegal immigration.  Since then, the president has reneged on his promise and has actively worked to thwart efforts to stem the tide of illegal immigration.  And since then, Republicans have been shifting their stance on illegal immigration, sensing that a solid majority of Americans, even including a large minority of Hispanics, want to see illegal immigration addressed without resorting to amnesty for illegals. 

I hope that the Republicans are serious about this effort and not just pandering to the electorate.  The constitution is in serious need of modernization and the 14th amendment would be a perfect place to start.

8 Responses to Time to Modify the 14th Amendment

  1. hungry4food says:

    as this evolves , we need to be careful how much more power Government gains during this Process . You see how these 2 different sides of the economic pond are colluding everything is tied together , working class and private enterprise , and given the overall view of over population I am highly skeptical of giving the Government to much Power over all forms of life economically .

    The authors of this past are top advisers today .

    I like what Barry Goldwater used to say ” If Government is Big Enough to Give you everything you want in Life , then Its Big Enough to take everything away from you too ” , http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Barry_Goldwater )

  2. Mark Hall says:


    Apparently some people now believe that as it refers to international relations, the definition of “Presidental” is to “preside over” vs. “enact change”.

    Hence, No limits on trade (imported goods & services) and No limits on legal and illegal immigration (imported labor).

    • Pete Murphy says:

      I truly hope the Republicans are able to make some hay with this issue. If they could actually pass an amendment to the constitution on this issue, perhaps it would open a flood gate for other badly needed amendments.

  3. ClydeB says:

    There would not have been need for a 14th amendment except for the fact that the Southern slave owning states would not join and ratify the Constitution if the slaves were to be allowed to become citizens. After the Civil war ended and there was less resistance, the amendment passed. In retrospect, it should have had a sunset provision which would have prevented the present situation from becoming a problem.

  4. Peteopolis says:

    Nothing is going to change until the biggest idiot of them all, The American Consumer, STOPS BUYING CHINESE (or Indian or ….) GOODS. Its that simple. You cannot have a credible education system where union donkeys scribbling elementary algebra on a blackboard are looked after better than Phd’s who are told to “compete” on the world “stage” (in other words how cheap you are). Its complete bullcrap.

    • Pete Murphy says:

      Randy, I’ll let this comment stand since there’s no personal attacks here, but I have to ask:
      1. What does this comment have to do with immigration and the 14th amendment?
      2. Being a Canadian, why do you care about any of this and what do you know about it anyway?
      3. Take an inventory of your belongings and report back on how much of it was made in China. Then explain to us why you yourself shouldn’t be counted among the ranks of “the biggest idiot of all.”
      4. Public school teachers belong to a union because they are forced to join. If that makes them “union donkeys” then I guess they’d would merely be “donkeys” otherwise (like the non-unionized teachers at private schools). Some of them are Phd’s. How do they fit into your analysis? And what Phd’s are being mistreated? The ones I know are doing very, very well.
      5. What does the American consumer’s buying of Chinese products have to do with the education system?
      6. Finally, what education system are you a produced of? Were you taught by any “union donkeys?”

      Randy, I’ll tolerate comments like these for a while because it’s such easy sport.

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