From time to time while struggling with this book, and earlier, while writing the humongous "Time to Rethink Immigration?" National Review cover story that preceded it, 1 I've broken off to experience once again--it will be for such a short, short time--the inexpressible joy of changing my infant American son's dirty diaper.
Alexander James Frank Brimelow is an American although I was still a British subject, and his mother a Canadian, when he shot into the New York Hospital delivery room, yelling indignantly, one summer dawn in 1991. This is because of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It states in part:
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.
The Fourteenth Amendment was passed after the Civil War in an attempt to stop Southern states denying their newly freed slaves the full rights of citizens. But the wording is general. So it has been interpreted to mean that any child born in the United States is automatically a citizen. Even if its mother is a foreigner. Even if she's just passing through.
This "birthright citizenship" is by no means the rule among industrialized countries. Even if you are born in a manger, the Japanese, French and Germans say in effect, that still doesn't make you a bale of hay. The British used to have birthright citizenship, but in 1983 they restricted it--requiring for example that one parent be a legal resident--because of problems caused by immigration.
I am delighted that Alexander is an American. However, I do feel slightly, well, guilty that his fellow Americans had so little choice in the matter.
But at least Maggy and I had applied for and been granted legal permission to live in the United States. There are currently an estimated 3.5 to 4 million foreigners who have just arrived and settled here in defiance of American law. 2 When these illegal immigrants have children in the United States, why, those children are automatically American citizens too.
And right now, two thirds of the births in Los Angeles County hospitals are to illegal-immigrant mothers. 3