More Reflections on Ancestry: Immigration and Citizenship

I have been thinking over the weekend as the election approaches about ancestry, about immigration and the fear of the "Other." On Donald Trump deciding that he can override the 14th Amendment to the Constitution by an Executive Order which gives citizenship to anyone born here or born out of the country if one of the parents is a citizen. 

Ted Cruz, former Presidential candidate and Senator from Texas is only a U.S. citizen because of the 14th Amendment. He was born in Canada. His mother is a U.S. citizen, so he is allowed to be a citizen. No one has given him a hard time about this, just Barack Obama whose mother was a citizen. He could actually have been born in Kenya (he wasn't) and still been a citizen. The birther contingent seemed to conveniently forget the fact about his mother's citizenship. And, her long line of ancestors in this country.

Because, unless you are Native American, you are or your ancestors were immigrants. What I remember from my history lessons are that newer immigrants were often treated with fear and loathing. They were considered dirty. Well wouldn't we all be dirty if we'd spent who knows how much time traveling to come to the US. I imagine those coming from England, Spain, and Portugal in the 16th and 17th Centuries were a tad smelly and worse for the wear. I remember my MorMor (maternal grandmother in Swedish) saying that she remembers the family hoping that the new arrivals in the family would show up in the middle of the night because they would be dirty, etc.

Then there's the cry that they'll take our jobs away from us. I don't think that has proven true through time. I know that's one of the current refrain, but there are many jobs open because everyone now wants to go to college. That is leaving jobs open in the trades, in retail, and other businesses. Immigrants often take the jobs that those of us born here don't want. They work in the slaughterhouses, restaurant kitchens, and mow lawns.

Some people say that immigrants are a drain on the system meaning illegal immigrants in particular. Well, immigrants, legal or illegal, pay taxes. People think that illegal immigrants don't pay taxes, but they do through purchasing things subject to sales taxes. They pay property taxes through their rent, because landlords, after all, have the tenants pay a proportional share of the taxes in their rent. Many illegals somehow manage to obtain a tax ID number or are using someone else's Social Security Number. So, unless the illegal immigrants are living under a bridge somewhere, are paid under the table in cash, and buy nothing, they pay taxes.

I wonder about the consequences of repealing the 14th Amendment. What happens to all the people who were born here after their parents came legally but weren't naturalized citizens yet? Are they immediately no longer citizens? What would have been my MorMor's status? She was the only one of her immediate family born here. Would she have been required to become naturalized despite being born here? How far back would the effect of a repeal go?

The intent of this seems extremely racist to me as it is clearly, in my mind, aimed at those coming in from Central and South America. There are illegals from other countries, but people do seem so focused on those immigrants. Interestingly, the Spanish came to what is now the United States before the English. St. Augustine, FL, founded by the Spanish, is the oldest city in the U.S. Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California were colonized by the Spanish. Yet, somehow we are supposed to fear Latinx.

It also is racist as it ignores that fact that the 14th Amendment was passed by the Congress and then ratified by the required number of states in 1868 after the conclusion of the Civil War in 1865. It was put into place to address citizenship rights of and equal protection rights for former enslaved people. I believe it would be dishonoring the history of the former enslaved and what this country went through to end enslavement.

Would I still have citizenship despite the fact that my family origins are from somewhere else? Or would I have essentially squatter's rights because some of my family came in the 17th century? Would those whose ancestors were given citizenship in the 19th century due to the 14th Amendment lose citizenship?

I think that it is quite sad that the person occupying the Oval Office is so unaware of Constitutional law that he feels he can wipe out a right with an Executive Order. Or maybe he thinks that everyone will go along with it. 

Thank god for lawyers. I see a law suit coming over this one.


The photograph is by Ghost Presenter and was found on

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