A less beautiful place

You know, I have no idea how much it costs to have illegal immigrants in this country. I suspect that, being undocumented, it's nearly impossible to get accurate information about how much they contribute to the country by doing hard, unpleasant, low-prestige work for low wages. Maybe they cost more than they contribute, but somehow I doubt it.

No matter the costs, however, I just can't get myself all that riled up about illegal immigrants. Perhaps it's my weak, liberal soul that insists about seeing them as people seeking a better life for themselves instead of menacing parasites. Perhaps it's because fully half of my family arrived in this country after fleeing the Ukraine at the turn of the last century (cue "Anatevka"), and I suspect if you'd polled Americans at the time they wouldn't have been too thrilled at having them here. Perhaps I'd feel differently if I lived in Arizona or another border state with an undeniable problem with drug cartels and crime. Who knows?

However, this just makes me angry (via TPM):
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and freshman Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) have now teamed up -- and they're aiming very high. The two have proposed a constitutional amendment, to get rid of birthright citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants.

From their joint press release, their proposal will declare "a person born in the United States to illegal aliens does not automatically gain citizenship unless at least one parent is a legal citizen, legal immigrant, active member of the Armed Forces or a naturalized legal citizen."

I sought clarification from Vitter's office as to whether this would be a full-fledged amendment to the Constitution, or a lesser legislative route. It is indeed a proposed amendment to the Constitution.

I hope they fail. I hope they fail spectacularly.

One of the things I love most about this country is its embrace of its immigrant past, and its symbolic welcome to oppressed and suffering people from around the world. I thought (wrongly?) that it was a source of national pride. We were ready enough to affix words to that effect in one of our most famous monuments. (Given our more recent disdain for all things French, should we give it back?) It makes America more beautiful, as far as I'm concerned.

Clearly this vision isn't shared by the likes of David Vitter and Rand Paul. Which I don't find surprising. Tragic, but not surprising.

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