Despite my strong objections to those who break our law and come here illegally, punishing babies for the transgressions of their parents seems wrong to me. I happen to believe that people will be punished for their own sins, and not for the sins of their fathers.
The American consensus for 142 years has been that it is wrong to deny citizenship to people born in the United States because you don’t like their parents. The argument that the 14th Amendment is a magnet for illegal immigration is a gross exaggeration at best and cynical political pandering at worst. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates 51,000 of 4.3 million babies born in the U.S. in 2008 were born to people who had been in the country for less than a year. Most were born to tourists and people who came here to buy better health care services. This fight is not about deporting, jailing, or considering as property 51,000 babies.
There is a strong and bipartisan consensus on what needs to be done. The first and most important job of government is to protect its people, and you can’t protect your people if you can’t protect your borders. It is unbelievable that nine years after 9/11, we still haven’t secured our borders.
There is nearly unanimous agreement that securing the border is not simply a matter of building a wall between us and Mexico. There are more than 7,200 miles of water between Hong Kong and Los Angeles and still we have illegal crossings. The wall is a symbol.
What we agree on is that every person who is in America should be here legally — no exceptions. To do this, we need to hire more border guards, create natural entry points, and crack down on employers who violate the law and undercut American jobs with cheap labor.
But true leadership also calls on us to acknowledge a hard truth: Politicians who tell you that we can find and deport 12 million illegal immigrants aren’t being honest.
We are going to have to restore the rule of law by requiring those who came here without our permission to gain some legal status, register and get in line, obey our laws, work hard, pay taxes, and, at the very least, pay a fine for breaking the law.
As religious leaders remind us, human decency also requires us to prevent splitting families apart and to stop sending away people who have known no other home but ours. It is cruelty in the extreme to do otherwise.
True leadership calls on us to tell another hard truth to immigrants who want to stay here. They must adopt our core community standards: be a good neighbor, get involved in the local community, and learn our language because those who don’t speak English will likely never achieve the American Dream.
True leadership isn’t about scoring political points — it is about solving problems. We should direct our anger where it belongs: at the special interests that exploit cheap labor and drive down American wages, and on the politicians who would rather stoke the flames of division than solve our problems. But solving problems is difficult if we get caught up in a wave of anti-Hispanic hysteria.
Read more: Davis County Clipper - PARTY LINES Should changes be made to the 14th Amendment If so how