Attacking Immigrants, and the Constitution

Yesterday, a group of state legislators launched an attack on the
fundamental American values in the U.S. Constitution by announcing their
intent to target babies born in the United States. This attempt to deny
American babies citizenship, and the documentation to prove it, is a
shameful, if unsurprising, new low.

This proposal takes aim at one of our nation's proudest moments --
the adoption of the 14th Amendment to bring to an end the ugly chapter
in U.S. history when children of slaves were denied citizenship. The
14th Amendment overruled the infamous Dred Scott decision and
lay down a simple principle of equality that "all persons born or
naturalized" in the U.S. are citizens. We must loudly reject the attempt
to punish babies and to re-define not only citizenship,
but the very fabric of our nation.

These politicians could have gathered to announce plans to balance
their budgets, promote job growth, or strengthen their communities.
Instead, they've announced plans to create divisions within our country
at precisely the time that we need to come together. Furthermore,
they've taken on the Constitution simply to score cheap political points
off of the backs of children.

The newborns targeted by this legislation would be caught in a
firestorm manufactured to whip up anti-immigrant fervor for political
ends. Such activities will do nothing to help American communities
address the very real challenges we face in 2011. Even the legislators
and legal advisors proposing these measures admit that their intent is
to trigger reconsideration of the 14th Amendment by the U.S. Supreme
Court rather than to address compelling state or local problems for
which they were elected.

What a waste. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution is enshrined in
the document that has governed the country since its inception. A state
challenge to its bedrock principles is legislative folly at best, and a
waste of precious taxpayer time and resources at worst. Yet the
politicians who gathered in Washington, D.C., today appear to believe
that this attack on native-born babies is the type of priority that
merits national attention.

Other legislators in states across the country have a choice: they
can choose the path of divisiveness, flouting the Constitution, or they
can maintain their commitment to their country and its children by
denouncing attempts to trample our precious 14th Amendment and promote
inclusive policies that improve their communities.

Children may not be voters, but we are. Voters across the nation
elected state legislators to solve their communities' problems and to
promote good policies. At the beginning of 2011, let's rein in these
legislators who are trying to derail our nation and our American
principles. Let's remind legislators that they too must uphold the
Constitution, which is revered all over the world as a beacon for
equality, fairness, justice, and opportunity.

Failure to protect the 14th Amendment would compromise many of the
values that we stand for as a nation. We cannot allow this to occur.