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Away From Home

Monday, December 12, 2005

House Caucus ignores the Constitution

The House Immigration Reform Caucus has lost its mind. (In other news, there's a House Immigration Reform Caucus.)

This week, they want to -- you know what, I'll just let them say it:

The 92-member House Immigration Reform Caucus, headed by Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), wants to attach an amendment revoking birthright citizenship to a broader immigration bill scheduled to be taken up sometime next week. Although several revocation bills have been introduced in the House, the most likely one to move forward would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to deny automatic citizenship to children born in the United States to parents who are not citizens or permanent resident aliens.


Now, for your reference, read this:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.


I repeat for emphasis: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States . . . are citizens of the United States."

This quote is completely opposite to the Caucus's proposal. So, where does it come from? THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION, Amendment XIV, Section 1.

That's right. The House Immigration Reform Caucus is introducing legislation which is completely and patently unconstitutional. Oh, and they know about it, too. Their answer:

Conservatives maintain that although illegal immigrants are subject to criminal prosecution and are expected to abide by U.S. laws and regulations, they are not "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States in the full sense intended by the amendment's authors — and their children therefore fall outside the scope of its protection.


I am completely unable to comprehend this statement. What does jurisdiction mean, if not "expected to abide by U.S. laws and regulations"? There is no other meaning!

Seriously, I am completely unable to defend the Caucus's position. I've thought about it for two days, and I just cannot formulate an argument to justify "they are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States in the full sense intended by the amendment's authors." Please help!

Oh, and an extra bit of fun. When I first read this story, I said "I bet Jim Ryun's part of that group." And you know what -- I was right.

2 Comments:

  • Of course you were right! Jim Ryun, with his criminally-minded children, of course would be part of this. I'm really not surprised, given the man's track record.

    By Blogger Mela, at 12/12/2005 11:08:00 PM  

  • GOP officials, Rep. Tom Tancredo and John C. Eastman should reread the Citizenship Clause.

    The phrase "and subject to the jurisdiction thereof," is enclosed within a PAIR OF COMMAS, with the first comma placed before the coordinating conjunction "and."

    An element enclosed within a PAIR OF COMMAS is "non-restrictive," meaning the phrase does not modify or qualify the element preceding it; a comma-plus-coordinating-conjunction is regarded as a "single punctuation mark."

    Is this another case of being "hanged by a pair of commas" Lynn Truss popularized?

    Grammatically, the Clause is intended to read:

    "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and [all persons] subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and [citizens] of the State wherein they reside."

    The Clause thus confers a SECOND, still unrecognized, category of citizens of the United States--"All persons subject to the jurisdiction thereof."

    Senator James Doolittle mentions this category during the debate (at p. 2897, 1st col., Congressional Globe, 39th Congress, 1st Session, May 30, 1866) with the phrase "all persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States" printed in quotation marks:

    "But, sir, the Senator has drawn me off from the immediate question before the Senate. The immediate question is whether the language he [Senator Jacob Howard, the author] uses, 'all persons subject to the jurisdiction of the United States,' includes these Indians..."

    Senator Doolittle was fearful of the consequences and implications of the "very language" Senator Howard (the author) employed -- "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" -- as distinguished from the words "subject to" used two months earlier by the 39th Congress in a similar provision in the 1866 Civil Rights Act which read:

    "All persons born in the United States but not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States."

    Note that NO comma is placed before the conjunction "and," which makes the phrase "and not subject to any foreign power" "restrictive," a modifier or qualifier of the preceding phrase, "All persons born in the United States."

    Note also that, by this SECOND category, the territorial extent of the Fourteenth is consistent with the extent in the companion Thirteenth.

    Thus, under the Thirteenth, it is abolition of slavery [1] "within the United States", or [2] "any place subject to their jurisdiction"; while, under the Fourteenth, it is citizenship to "All persons born in the United States" and [2] "[all persons] subject to the jurisdiction thereof."

    Based on the remarks by Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Lyman Trumbull and Senator Howard (the author) during the debate, this SECOND category conveys the meaning:

    "All persons owing allegiance within the extent or territory over which the constitutional power of the United States extends"--or birth within the realm and within the allegiance.

    At that time in 1866, this SECOND CATEGORY embraced "persons" NOT "in the United States" but within the following places "subject to the jurisdiction thereof":

    --the 12 ceded territories pending statehood
    --the 11 Confederate States awaiting readmission to the Union
    --the District of Columbia.

    By Blogger domingo, at 12/14/2005 03:07:00 AM  

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