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|Citizenship Down - Akhil Amar|
I remember back in the thumbsucking years of the blogosphere we had a similar argument about gun control. The argument went like this: gun nuts are all afraid that the government is going to come and take away their guns. Sure, this is crazy, but it's what they think. So what if the Supreme Court ruled that gun ownership is an individual right under the Second Amendment? That would assure the gun folks that no one could take away their guns and might make them more amenable to some of the softer forms of firearm regulation that liberals support. I hardly need to tell you that this didn't happen.
In fact, I'm not sure you can find any example of that happening among either liberals or conservatives. Roe v. Wade didn't settle the abortion issue, the passage of Medicare didn't settle the healthcare issue, Reagan's tax cuts didn't satisfy the supply siders, etc. etc. Likewise, I don't think the end of birthright citizenship would slow down the immigration brawl even slightly, especially since I've long been convinced that the real hot button issue is cultural resentment and language angst, not anchor babies or low paid field workers.
Jason Kuznicki piles on:
[A] permanent, multi-generational class of non-citizens would just be fuel for the fire. Twenty years on, immigration foes will look at all the second- and third-generation non-citizens we’ve created, and the mass arrests and deportations will really begin in earnest. Not a problem I’d want to create.
Worse, by then the anti- side may even have a point. A permanently alienated underclass isn’t going to be so loyal or so invested in the American polity. They wouldn’t have any reason or need to be. The genius of birthright citizenship is that it changes the incentives for everyone involved. It says to all populations: You’ve got roughly twenty years to figure out how to live with one another, as citizens. Now get to work.
Reihan responds to Yglesias on the political viability of birthright reform. Colbert addressed the issue in fine form last night.
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