Jus Soli Under Attack

Add the Fourteenth Amendment, and birthright citizenship, to the growing list of basic American institutions (direct election, the Civil Rights Act, and regulation for the public benefit) the right wants overturned. Per Lindsey Graham, the Fourteenth Amendment inappropriately allows anyone born here to claim the benefits of our laws:

Birthright citizenship I think is a mistake, that we should change our Constitution and say if you come here illegally and you have a child, that child’s automatically not a citizen.

Moving away from jus soli, to jus sanguinis, or some hybrid thereof, would fundamentally alter the way this country relates to its people. To see how, consider how the law changes. Here’s the birthright citizenship clause as it stands:

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.

And here’s how Graham wants it changed:

All persons born to citizens 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.

By raising the bar for citizenship, we exclude an important part of the American story. Not every baby born to foreigners on American soil is an “anchor baby” (to use the racist, de-humanizing conservative term), or conceived as a way to circumvent the law. Birthright citizenship eases the path to normalcy for those here legally, hoping to integrate into our culture, to improve their lives, and ours. It also effects the final refpudiation of the old, theocratic rule that sons bear the guilt of the father. See Deuteronony 5:9; but see Deuteronomy 24:16. Consider the Supreme Court’s statetment of the rule:

[V]isiting . . . condemnation on the head of an infant is illogical and unjust. Moreover, imposing disabilities on the . . . child is contrary to the basic concept of our system that legal burdens should bear some relationship to individual responsibility or wrongdoing. Obviously, no child is responsible for his birth, and penalizing the . . . child is an ineffectual — as well as unjust — way of deterring the parent.

Weber v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., 406 U.S. 164, 175 (1972) (footnote omitted); cited in Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202  (1982). When did our oldest, most important values come under attack? What leads a political philosophy rejected by the electorate, handily, to believe itself entitled to further radicalize, rather than moderate?



  1. If peopel find this unfair I would suggest lobbying the federal government harder to get illegal immigration under control. Until that happens proposed laws like this, good or bad, are going to be more and more common.

  2. …and fail. Amending the Fourteenth is a losing proposition, precisely because it’s so radical. And is immigration really that bad? It’s DOWN. Why do we suddenly care?

  3. “And is immigration really that bad?”

    I know of few conservatives who oppose legal immigration. I think you know legal immigration isn’t driving these laws.

  4. Amending the XIVth affects legal immigration too. And fine, is Illegal immigration really that bad these days? It’s DOWN. Why do we suddenly care?

    1. Well I can’t speak for everyone but I assume the folks of NYC don’t care because you all need someone to dry clean your clothes and fluff your pillows at night. As for the people in the border states, yeah, it’s a huge problem. And a lot of those blue collar workers that you guys supposedly care about believe illegals are depressing their wages.

    2. HAHA WOW. BEST COMMENT EVER. Cool. So many of these arguments can be won just by making you guys look like crazy racists. Mission accomplished, break out the carrier.

      As to the last, “believ[ing]” something doesn’t make it true.

      1. Look Ames – it’s cool man. I’ve been on cruises. At first it feels exotic to be waited on by foreigners. After a few days though I feel guilty and start wishing I could make my own bed. But then I come back to my room and there’s a rabbit made out of towels on it and I’m like, “The third world rules!” It’s just kind of remarkable that the first capital of our country has been turned into the land of haves and have-nots. The overclass (you and your colleagues) have achieved something kind of amazing. You’ve imported enough cheap (and illegal) labor to take care of almost all of your day-to-day needs and leave you free to pursue corporate law, engage in risky finance and film all the TV cop dramas you want. Yay capitalism!

        “As to the last, “believ[ing]” something doesn’t make it true.”

        Well then you all need to talk to your friends in organzied labor and set hem straight because they have a problem with illegals.

  5. This is a fascinating insight into how people who’ve never been to New York view it. To the extent that it’s worth engaging on the merits, my laundry guy’s Chinese and he’s lived here for thirty years.

    1. I’ve been to NY and that’s still how I view it. The income inequality there is nothing short of amazing.

  6. And my pillow-fluffer is fourteen years old and black. She’s also a cat.

    1. Give it time buddy. You’ll get yourself a nice little Vietnamese girl or maybe someone from a former Soviet Bloc country who needs to pay her rent.

  7. I have a first-gen immigrant Soviet expat who does a lot of work for me.

    She’s an attorney friend at the firm and we review each others’ briefs & motions before we file them. It’s a handy arrangement, because she’s really damn smart.

    What I’m getting at is your tacked-on racial narrative is pretty offensive. And off-base. As to the rich/poor gap here, hey, I wonder whose tax cuts made that happen?

  8. It’s also prety true. NYC’s upper class would quickly find themselves in trouble without a large class of lower-class immigrants to take advantage of.

    Wow – you guys will try to blame anything on Bush. The income gap in NYC is not a recent phenomenon, as the source you cited mentions. It’s been developing in NYC and San Francisco, to name the two worst offenders, for decades, primarily because manufacturing was pushed out and white collar jobs filled the dead space. As the article also notes it got extremely pronounced during the boom years under Clinton.

    Be thankful Ames. You are the recipient of lots of hard work from others to push the middle class out of NYC.

  9. How do we define middle class?

  10. “NYC’s upper class would quickly find themselves in trouble without a large class of lower-class immigrants to take advantage of.”

    But that’s true all across this country! Why the hell do you think all those Mexicans are making the illegal, dangerous border crossing in the desert? It’s because someone over here is willing to pay them once they get here. That is what needs to stop. But many of the measures that would make it harder for illegal immigrants to work here are decried by the right as being anti-business.

    1. I think it depends on the state. Here in KY illegals really only do things like landscaping and roofing. If they went away it would be alright.

      It’s not just about illegals in NYC. There’s a huge income gap between Ames’ class and the people that serve them. You have toi understand that NYC is a boutique economy. Basically their whole system is structured around jobs for the upper class and then a huge selection of services to entertain them. The middle class is shrinking incredibly fast. On top of that I believe there was just an article the other day (which i can’t locate at the moment) that was discussing the way that blacks are migrating out of NYC due to inability to compete with immigrant labor.

    2. Haha WHOA buddy. Gotta take offense at about 90% of that. It may be entertaining to imagine me in my high-rise, feet on the desk and cigar in hand, screaming to my secretary for another Old Fashioned, but Mad Men is fictional, I don’t drink bourbon, and I only smoked one cigar once, to please the damn summer associates.

      Now, you’re making a couple elementary errors. First, you’re saying “New York City” when you mean “Manhattan.” The former includes but is not limited to the latter. Livable Manhattan salaries for the middle class are $60k-200k (I’m middle class). Below that, yes, it’s hard to find a livable place on the island. But that’s a problem with Manhattan, not New York City. Outside Manhattan — Williamsburg, Park Slope, Red Hook, Staten Island — you can live for less than that quite happily, and still call yourself (and be) a New Yorker.

      Your next problem is conflating the class divide with the professional/nonprofessional staff divide. The profession divide is largely illusory in the modern world, where people treat each other with respect, and in any sense, doesn’t overlap with class. This narrative also excludes the huge swath of the economy that falls into neither bracket — small business owners, restaurateurs, etc. that still exist throughout all the five boroughs. Have you BEEN here?

      Also, wasn’t it YOU yelling at ME about a year ago for spouting classist nonsense?

      1. I’m only repeating research that other people have done Ames. Kotkin is the best:

        From ‘Urban Legends’

        “Back in the ’60s, Jane Jacobs could still predict that Latino immigrants to New York, mainly from Puerto Rico, would inevitably make “a fine middle class.” Yet today in the Bronx, the city’s most heavily Latino borough, roughly one in three households live in poverty, the highest rate of any urban county in the nation. At the other extreme, Manhattan, where the rich are concentrated, the disparities between the classes have been rising steadily. In 1980, it ranked seventeenth among the nation’s counties for social inequality; today it ranks first, with the top fifth of wage- earners earning 52 times that of the lowest fifth, a disparity roughly comparable to that of Namibia.”

        And before you suggest again that this is just about Manhattan, from ‘The Luxury City vs. the Middle Class’:

        “It’s astonishing that, even with the many improvements over the past decade in New York, for example, more residents left its five boroughs for other locales in 2006 than in 1993, when the city was in demonstrably far worse shape. In 2006, the city had a net loss of 153,828 residents through domestic out-migration, compared to a decline of 141,047 in 1993, with every borough except Brooklyn experiencing a higher number of out-migrants in 2006.

        Since the 1990s virtually all the gains made in the New York economy have accrued to the highest income earners. Overall, New York has the smallest share of middle-income families in the nation, according to a recent Brookings Institution study; its proportion of middle-income neighborhoods was smaller than any metropolitan area, except for Los Angeles.”

        1. Ah, Joel Kotkin. The grand ‘urban sprawl’ apologist. The “anti-Richard Florida”, as it were.

          Looking over those two articles (which are here and here, by the way – you’re welcome), nowhere is it more apparent that he doesn’t really know what he’s talking about than here:

          “Perhaps the other key question is what constitutes the economic base for the people who might settle and remain in cities. It’s clear that many traditional industries—heavy manufacturing, warehousing—as well as middle management white collar jobs will diminish in the future. But it is possible to imagine the rise of a new kind of urban economy built around people working in small firms, or independently in growing fields such as information, education, healthcare, and culture, or as specialists in a wide array of business services.”

          Isn’t his whole argument that the urban middle class is disappearing because cities are focusing too much on those exact same services? But it’s suddenly okay and all middle-classy if they’re just small firms?

          Who does he think work in those corporate HQs or the city museums or art galleries right now? Millionaires who spend all their time sipping margaritas and counting their huge wads of money?

          You’ll have to excuse me if I find it hard to take anything that man says seriously.

          1. I notice you’re not disputing anything he says about current conditions (which is why I posted those two quotes). It’s easy to criticize someone’s predictions, but the research on the contemporary situation is factual.

          2. No, I disagree. The problem is precisely with his definition of the middle class. If you operate with a definition that excludes service and knowledge (or “boutique”) workers, then obviously you’re going to see a shrinking “middle class” in a modern city that focuses on those economic sectors. But that’s just begging the question.

            To say anything meaningful about this, we need a consistent and non-arbitrary definition based on detailed and measureable economical facts. All that Kotkin really brings up is that NYC has a large income disparity and fewer private-sector jobs. That can be a serious challenge in itself, but it does not follow that “the middle class” is disappearing.

            1. Kotkin specifically cites a Brookings Study for his ‘middle clas’ statistics. I think I found the correct study and Brookings says:

              “According to a new study published by the Brookings Institution, only 16% of the city’s families have a “middle” income. That is, just one in six earned an income that came within 20% of the city’s median, or typical, family income in 2000 (about $42,000)—one of the lowest rates in the nation.”

              So there is your definition.


            2. It looks to me like the Brookings cites in both articles are used as corroborating evidence, not to make his case-in-chief, as it were. If he’s trying to pull a larger premise up by the bootstraps of smaller facts, Lanfranc’s point still holds.

              1. Lanfranc asked what the definition of middle class was for the purposed of Kotkin’s article. I provided that.

              2. My knowledge of statistics is admittedly pretty much limited to Huff’s How to Lie with Statistics, but it doesn’t seem like that study actually supports Kotkin’s argument.

                For one thing, it deals with middle-class neighbourhoods – i.e. how the distribution of different social classes in the cities is changing. And for another, it also says that,

                “At the broadest level, these metropolitan areas followed the national trend. All 12 experienced declines between 1970 and 2000 in the proportion of their families and neighborhoods classified as middle-income, and increases at both the low- and high-income ends of the distribution. Moreover, as was the case nationwide, each of the 12 areas saw its proportion of neighborhoods that were middle income fall by a greater amount than the proportion of families that were middle-income.” (p. 6-7)

                The conclusion I’m taking away from this study is that “income disparity is increasing everywhere in the US, but in the urban areas, neighbourhoods are also getting more stratified, which complicates the problem”, rather than “OMG, the middle class is disappearing!”

                1. Allow me to share again the exact same quote with added emphasis:

                  “That is, just one in six earned an income that came within 20% of the city’s median, or typical, family income in 2000 (about $42,000)— one of the lowest rates in the nation.

                  So yeah, we’re seeing outward migration in a lot of places, but it’s a lot more pronounced in NYC. It also still makes my point about a vanishing middle class in NYC, a fact Ames’ disputed here:


                2. I don’t dispute (as I say in that very comment) that Manhattan has a problem with the middle class. I dispute your insultingly hyperbolic characterization of it (“the whole system is structured around jobs for the upper class and then a huge selection of services to entertain them”), and the notion that the middle class is already gone, not just dwindling. To close in your style, you’re making the typical conservative mistake of confusing a trend with the end. “SHRINKING MIDDLE CLASS” =/= “SOCIALIST ELITES MURDERED THE MIDDLE CLASS, GET THEM.”

                  1. It’s not just Manhattan Ames…it appear to be all 5 burroughs.

                    If you want o see the genisis for my remarks on NYC re-read your comment which says,

                    “And is immigration really that bad? It’s DOWN. Why do we suddenly care?”

                    I find your attitude kind of ironic given the place you chose to call home. I find it even more ironic in the context of supposedly worker-friendly liberalism.

                    And yeah, you live in a service economy. The non-white collar jobs in NYC are overwhelmingly service-based. Those services are there for the people at the top that can afford them.

                  2. Aren’t you now pushing a tautology? Non-professionals aren’t professionals? That’s… true. I suppose. But I can’t imagine what jobs you think the rest of the world has that New York doesn’t.

                    And I don’t see how living here means I’m necessarily happy about seeing the middle class pushed out. Or how you imagine I’m supporting it. Immigration cuts into, if anything, lower-class jobs, which is not what we’re talking about. Right?

                    1. Wouldn’t you say Ames – that you paint Republicans in general with a very, very broad brush (since you do, afterall, run a GOP slam site)? It often appears it’s sort of a ‘gulit by association’ attitude towards all conservatives who must take responsibility for the Michelle Bachmans and Glen Becks of the Right. So i say, you migrated there, you’re part of Richard Florida’s creative class…then there’s a certain degree of responsibility.

                  3. “Those services are there for the people at the top that can afford them.”

                    Yeah, because rich people just love taking the Metro. Or visiting the public libraries. They do it all the time.

                    I think they love it almost as much as I love taking a complex system like a city of over 8 million people and reducing it to just one trend.

                    1. I’m not reducing it, by outward migration of the middle class is a huge problem in NYC as covered by many urban researchers, not just Kotkin.

      2. Not really relevant but nonetheless important: You, if you enjoy whiskey at all, should consider educating yourself about bourbon whiskey. It’s not just “Midnight Hobo” anymore (+5 internets to anybody who gets that reference). If you don’t like whiskey, well, I don’t know what to say. I can only grieve for your loss.

        1. I live in the bourbon capital of the world and all I can say is yuck. I’ve tried it dozens of times and the urge to gag is always the first thing that hits me. Thank god for beer.

  11. A more pertinent change to the 14th might be to the Equal Protection Clause: “nor, except as criminal sentence following due process of law, deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws provided that such person is legally within the United States”. The problem with the whole Plyler v. Doe line of cases isn’t that they were wrong, it’s that they were right. The problem’s that the 14th Amendment by its text gets rid of the common-law status of Outlaw and by its text requires that those whose very presence in the country is illegitimate be treated as if it were legitimate.

    Of course, as long as we’re talking about amending the 14th, it’d be nice to give Slaughterhouse the old Chisholm v. Georgia treatment.

    1. I should probably clarify that I don’t really support dicking around with the Equal Protection Clause, just that I think it would make more sense and be less risky than changing Jus Soli.

  12. Ames, you really should read Urban Legends sometime.

    “Boutique cities, like a high-end specialty merchandiser, have little use for the general run of the working and middle class, whose needs are assigned to the domain of Target, Wal-Mart and other suburban merchandisers. Indeed, if the makers of the boutique city worry about anything besides themselves, it is usually not the disappearance of this hardworking middle class, but how to deal with the potential threat represented by the alienated underclass, with its potential for lethal mayhem. Many denizens of these environments do not see the city as a place that holds their commitments, but only one locale that, for a period of time or a particular season, seizes their fancy. Many are not even full-timers, instead flitting to Florida, Malibu, Palm Springs, Europe, or the Hamptons, depending on the season and their latest whims (since the 1990s, for example, the number of Manhattan residences serving as second homes has grown by as much as three-fold).”

    “It depends also on the energies of a steady stream of young, educated workers and legions of poorly paid, often immigrant, service workers.”

    …and before I get accused of only citing Kotkin, let’s try another source:

    “Nearly a quarter-million people left New York for other states in the past year, continuing a long-term trend in which the Empire State has been a leading demographic loser.

    •Roughly 12 out of every 1,000 New York residents moved elsewhere in the country between mid-2005 and mid-2006-nearly double the overall rate of out-migration for the slow-growing Northeast region.

    •New York’s loss of 225,766 people to other states between 2005 and 2006 was exceeded only by the out-migration totals for California and hurricane-ravaged Louisiana.

    •More than 1.2 million New York residents have moved to other states since 2000-the biggest such loss experienced by any state.

    But the state has been growing at less than one-third the national rate in this decade. As a result, the Empire State is on track to slip from third to fourth in state population rankings within a few years.”


    1. You didn’t really answer my question. You just copied some text about how upper class people hate lower class people, the latter of whom, according to your author, are simple folk, desiring only proximity to Target and Walmart outlets and violent revolt. Spare me this divisive narrative.

      1. The answer to your question is that yes, plenty of other cities have services offered by the lower class. The glaring difference is that they have jobs in the middle as well. Those are increasingly absent in NYC.

      2. Like…? What sector of society, between professionals and those who Serve them, am I missing out on?

  13. Manufacturing, mid-level white collar jobs, etc.

    1. That’s what I thought you meant. There’s all kinds of mid-level white collar jobs. They’re called consultants ($60-80k/yr). Or managers for the midrange companies that, in fact, populate a lot of the band between Houston and Times Square. Or staff for law/finance firms ($40-65k/yr). There’s a lot of them. Seriously, have you been here?

      As for manufacturing, sure, they’re gone. But that’s not a function of some nefarious plan by the Super Secret Evil Upper Classes/Illuminati, or Them Thur Lib’ruls. And it’s not A Problem, either. Manufacturing leaves of its own accord when land values hit a certain level. For New York, that switch came in the 70’s under Koch, who decided not to artificially depress land values or cut taxes to bring them back, but instead shoot to attract cleaner industry, and finance. That Koch had that decision to make, and made it in that way, isn’t really “bad” for anyone, it’s just a function of New York taking a unique place in the national economy.

      This is why your larger narrative, premised on some weird metaculture war thing, fails. A lot of these shifts happen through passive forces, and by no one person’s volition. You’re taking data showing middle class flight and reading in to it motives, intentions, and beliefs that just aren’t there.

      1. You say there are tons of those jobs but none of the research shows that. What’s your representative sample? Your circle of friends and coworkers? There are a LOT of people in NYC.

        For the second time Ames – yes, i’ve been there. But I’m not relying on my personal observations. I’m relying on data compiled by professionals.

        ‘You’re taking data showing middle class flight and reading in to it motives, intentions, and beliefs that just aren’t there.”

        I’m not reading into it intent or anything else. I’m stating a fact: NYC is an increasingly stratified city with a middle class that is shrinking at a pace far greater than the national rate. The existence of a growing lower class in that city, compounded with a immigrant population that still sees it as a gateway to the United States and a upper class that needs a lower class to provide vital services = a self-perpetuating system. You are a direct part of that system. That’s why I suspect you don’t see immigration, illegal or otherwise, as a problem.

      2. I think we’re both right on the facts — there’s a decreasing middle class, but it’s still here — and you’re epically wrong on the inference. Namely, New York isn’t some upper/lower class only dystopia where Don Draper clones kick puppies all day.

        1. Largest income gap in the country Ames. You can infer whatever you want from that.

        2. You can apparently infer a nascent class war. I for one quake in fear of the “alienated underclass, with its potential for lethal mayhem.”

          1. It’s not class war. It’s economics. You’ll note I never once implied that the employment situation in NYC was intentional. Why I would suggest is that people like yourself benefit greatly from the cheap immigrant labor that provide you many of your daily services. This point directly relates to what initiated this exchange in the first place, namely your dismissal of concerns over immigration. Maybe you’d like to explain that point better?

  14. Excellent beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend your site,
    how can i subscribe for a blog web site? The account
    aided me a acceptable deal. I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered bright clear idea

%d bloggers like this: