Apparently Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Texas State Representative Debbie Riddle (N-uts) have discovered a new and exciting way to spice up the debate over "anchor babies": pointing out that some of them are incipient terrorists, given American citizenship and an identity through anchor-babying, then shipped off for intensive training in being all terroristic and hating America and stuff. This sounds suspiciously like a riff on the plot of "Salt." Maybe we can exclude all the babies with beestung lips and a tendency to get regrettable tattoos.
The quantum of proof is perhaps not yet overwhelming:
COOPER: What former FBI officials — I mean, what evidence is there of some sort of long-term plot to have American babies born here and then become terrorists — raised as terrorists overseas and then come back here?
RIDDLE: Well, at this point, I don't have the hard evidence right here in front of me.
However, this is something that is being talked about by various members of Congress. This is being looked into. This is an issue with not only folks coming across our southern border, with what is called anchor babies, and coming over for the entitlement programs and for that sort of thing, but I think that this is a lot more sinister issue.
All of these issues, we need to look at, because this is a critical, critical issue for all of the American — American public.
COOPER: But you have no actual evidence?
RIDDLE: Other than that coming from former FBI folks.
COOPER: Can you tell us who these former FBI folks are, and what evidence they have or what evidence they have shown you?
RIDDLE: At this point, I'm not going to reveal that.
I know ex-FBI agents, and if there is anything they know, it is about secret international sleeper agent schemes. And places where you can really drink steadily without the bartender hassling you.
Anyway, this is only the latest riff on the recent discussion by some Republicans about amending the Constitution to change the terms of the Fourteenth Amendment to eliminate the provision making everyone born in the U.S. a citizen, a proposition sufficiently interesting to make Mike Huckabee seem utterly level-headed and statesmanlike.
I confess — I have a terrible bias. I want to move some portions of the law in the other direction. I want to amend Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution to read: "No person except one who has been a citizen of the United States for Thirty-Five Years shall be eligible to the Office of President."
Why? Well . . .
Or because of Arnold Schwarzenegger, if you're looking for a laugh. [The thirty-five year number is calculated to make everyone similarly situated: the original text has an age requirement of thirty-five, and this ensures what both domestic-born and naturalized citizens must be citizens for thirty-five years.]
I am, needless to say, not thrilled about anyone pushing a narrative about babies as sleeper agents.
The prevalence of anchor babies may be considerably higher than I assumed. The Transplanted Lawyer has a very good post on the issue, in which he and his commenters also address the question of whether and how much we should worry and what we should do about it. My inclination is to think that we should be cautious and deeply suspicious of Constitutional amendments calculated to deprive people of individual rights. I'm not happy about starting a trend. Moreover, I'm not sure that the problem, in terms of a threat to America's security or resources, lies with the babies. I think it lies with the parents, in that we have an unprincipled and haphazard approach to enforcing our immigration laws, and illegal immigrants who have babies here are more likely to be allowed to stay. Would "anchor babies" be a problem if immigration laws were, whether in current form or amended form, rigorously enforced, and having a kid here did not make a parent any more likely to win the right to stay? Or, do you prefer the open-borders approach of some libertarians?
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