You can tell it's an election year. The airwaves are filled with political ads, there's anger in the air and the country is divided. It's a time for feuding, flip-flopping on issues, attacking an opponent's integrity and targeting the most vulnerable. It's a time for political opportunism.
Riding the political advantage that conservatives gained in Arizona as a result of supporting anti-immigrant law SB 1070, Republicans across the country are attempting to reap the political benefits they think supporting that law will bring. Some even are proposing a similar law in their own state.
Never mind that SB 1070 does nothing to solve the immigration problem, drug smuggling or human trafficking, nor does it make the country safer.
Now the new target is babies. Yes, babies.
A group of prominent Republican lawmakers is proposing repealing parts of the 14th Amendment, which grants citizenship to all persons born in the United States.
Sen. Lindsey Graham -- who just a few months ago was working on an immigration-reform bill -- recently said: "They come here to drop a child. It's called 'drop and leave.' To have a child in America, they cross the border, they go to the emergency room, have a child, and that child is automatically an American citizen."
Graham is implying that undocumented pregnant women come here for the sole reason of giving birth to an American child. What proof does Graham have to make such a blanket statement? Are there any statistics of pregnant women risking their lives in order to give birth to a child here? What about women who arrive in the United States from different parts of the world with a visa and stay after it expires? Are they being accused of having so-called anchor babies, too?
According to a Pew Hispanic Center study, an estimated 340,000 babies born in this country in 2008 were the offspring of undocumented immigrants. A co-author of the study claims that more than 80 percent of those children were born to a mother who had been in the country for at least a year.
This hatred for undocumented immigrants is going too far. Now it's not just trying to prevent them from getting a job, a driver's license or access to housing. Now some lawmakers want to regulate under what conditions a family can procreate. How do they plan to enforce such a plan? Would they put immigration agents in maternity wards to make sure the parents have the proper documents? Will they want to turn nurses and doctors into immigration officials, the way they are doing with police officers, and have them determine if there is a "reasonable suspicion" that a baby's mother or father doesn't have immigration documents in order? Does this plan attempt to create a new category: undocumented babies?
Republican lawmakers who are supporting hearings to review the 14th Amendment claim that the wording that grants citizenship to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction hereof" never was intended to grant citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants. Well, there were no "undocumented immigrants" in 1868, when the 14th Amendment was ratified. At that time, all immigrants who came to this country were allowed to stay. There were no immigration laws. People could arrive in boats or cross the border through Mexico or Canada and simply go about their business.
Eliminating birthrights or establishing more SB 1070s around the country is merely politics at its worst. I wonder how many of those politicians actually support this anti-immigrant wave by conviction, and how many are doing it for political gain and will flip-flop on the issue after the primaries to try to pander to Latino voters, whom they will desperately need in order to win in November.
Negative political campaigning and using hot-button issues for political gain are nothing new, but this midterm election year, the tactics have hit a new low. Candidates are fueling the fire and getting people riled up about an issue that the candidates most likely will do nothing about after they are elected. Voters should not allow themselves to be manipulated in this manner.
Just leave the babies alone.
KING FEATURES SYNDICATE