President Donald J. Trump’s (R-New York) plan to abolish birthright citizenship could lead to civil war.
Notably, the last effort to abolish birthright citizenship in America was one of the major causes of the Civil War. To explain, in 1857 the US Supreme Court African Americans were not citizens in the infamous Dred Scott Decision.
The Civil War broke out in 1861 just four years after the Court handed Dred Scott down. In fact, historians cite Dred Scott as a principal cause of the Civil War.
Birthright citizenship is the guarantee that all children born on American soil are American citizens. White supremacists reject birthright citizenship because it makes people of color equal citizens.
Trump wants to Strip Nonwhites of Birthright Citizenship
In Scott vs. Sanford, the Supreme ruled the Constitution only applied to white people, The Atlantic points out. Thus, nonwhites had no constitutional rights.
The thinking of the Dred Scott decision’s author; Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, was that African American slaves were not citizens because they were not voluntarily in the country. This argument is dangerously close to the logic Trump is promoting today.
To clarify, Trump claims the 14th Amendment does not cover the children of undocumented aliens because their mothers are not legally in the country. However, the 14th Amendment guarantees and protects birthright citizens for all Americans.
Why Birthright Citizenship and the 14th Amendment Matter
The Republicans added the 14th Amendment to the Constitution because many Americans did not view nonwhites as citizens.
Before the 14th Amendment, nonwhites had no legal status in the United States like illegal immigrants today. Thus, white thugs were free to enslave, exploit, abuse, rob, and murder nonwhite people.
Therefore, Trump is partially reviving the loathsome idea that the Constitution entitles only white people to citizenship. However, the President concedes that nonwhites can be citizens if their parents are legal residents of the United States.
Trump is Reviving FDR’s Internment Policies
Instead, Team Trump apparently believes the president has the legal right to revoke the citizenship of immigrants and their children. This is not a new idea.
For example, President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D-New York) made the same argument during World War II. To explain, FDR simply ignored the citizenship of Japanese Americans when he ordered them interned in 1942.
To clarify, Roosevelt ordered all people of Japanese descent removed from the West Coast regardless of citizenship status. However, in case called Ex Parte Endo the US Supreme Court ruled that the President cannot revoke citizenship.
One argument for internment was that Japanese Americans were not citizens; because the US government considered many of them Japanese citizens. To explain, the Japanese government considers anybody of Japanese descent a Japanese citizen, under Japan’s birthright citizenship doctrine.
Thus, the US government illegally interned Japanese Americans because of a legal doctrine in their homeland. To make matters worse, the Imperial Japanese Army drafted Japanese American men even if they were US citizens.
Disturbingly, Trump lackeys like former Deputy National Security advisor Michael Anton are making the same argument today. Anton argues children of immigrants are not US citizens because foreign governments recognize them as citizens, The Verge points out.
However, there is little law and few serious legal arguments for presidential revocation of US citizenship. Trump, whose sister is a federal judge, is undoubtedly well aware of prevailing legal doctrines.
Is Trump Serious about Birthright Citizenship
In fact, the legal arguments around birthright citizenship are so hazy it is not clear if Trump is serious about them.
For example, they could strip Trump himself of citizenship under his advisors’ arguments. To clarify, Trump’s mother; Mary Anne MacLeod Trump, was born in Scotland and came to the US before World War II.
However, Mary Trump became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1942. Notably, Mary Trump became a citizen in 1942; the same year FDR was interning large numbers of people.
In fact, Mary Trump‘s husband; Fred Trump was a German-American, and America was at war with Germany. Notably, the government interned German-Americans in 1942. Under those circumstances, cynics will wonder if fear of internment motivated Mary Trump’s patriotism.
Moreover, the mothers of four of Trump’s five children are immigrants. For instance, the first lady is a Serbian American. Thus Trump’s actions could threaten his own family.
Is Trump’s Birthright Citizenship Pledge a Cynical Lie?
Under those circumstances, I have to wonder if Trump is serious or merely spinning a cynical lie. Uniquely, Trump’s birthright citizenship proposal came a week before close midterm elections.
To clarify, Republicans are facing a midterm election in which candidates will win many races by very narrow margins. In fact, U.S. Representative Connor Lamb (D-Pennsylvania) won a special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District by a 0.2% margin The New York Times reports.
Therefore, the Republicans need every vote they can get; even those of racists. Thus, Trump might swing a few close races by pandering to the white supremacist vote.
Notably, Trump began talking about birthright citizenship just after the Pennsylvania synagogue shooting. To explain, the President; and his Jewish daughter and son-in-law, flew to Pittsburgh to honor Jewish victims. That act undoubtedly outraged much of the lunatic fringe.
Why Trump is talking about Birthright Citizenship
To reclaim racists’ support Trump has to reestablish his credentials as a white supremacist. Proposing an end to birthright citizenship; long a goal of white supremacists, is a logical means of achieving that goal.
Therefore, Trump’s birthright proposal is not only racist it is dangerous and irresponsible. The President is proposing a policy that could trigger Civil War to win a few votes.
Trump should be ashamed of himself. Republicans need to ask themselves if supporting this man is worth it. Hopefully, Republicans will lose more races because of the Donald’s actions.
A political party that can only win by lying to racists deserves to lose. So does a politician who can only drum up support with cynical lies.