December 11, 2005

Social policy and history

And here's what you get with the failure to know a bit of social history:

"You didn't have a massive immigration of people who were retaining allegiance to another nation and maybe coming here temporarily and then going back," [Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence Director John] Eastman said. "In 1868, you didn't make that trip across the Atlantic twice."

This excerpt from an L.A. Times story on proposals to remove birthright citizenship just boggles the mind. Of course you had circular migration 100 years ago, even among Eastern European Jews. See for example Mark Wyman's survey of historical circular migration in the U.S., Round Trip to America: The Immigrants Return to Europe, 1880-1930 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993).

The proposal is silly on a number of other grounds, among which include the claim that one of the motivations for illegal immigration is to make sure your child is born in the U.S., has citizenship, and thus can sponsor you for citizenship when she or he reaches adulthood. As the conservative Manhattan Institute's fellow Tamar Jacoby told the reporter, "I have never met a poor person who has his wife walk across the desert at eight months pregnant so they can wait 21 years to be sponsored by their child."

But it may be attached to various legislation because of our everpresent society-wide ambivalence about immigration and the xenophobia that always bubbles underneath the surface.

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Posted in History on December 11, 2005 7:32 AM |