Remember when Republicans just wanted to undo the 20th century?
"Reform" Social Security out of existence, roll back women's rights, undo the Voting Rights Act, restrict access to contraception, destroy the unions, shove gays and lesbians back in the closet? Now they want to undo the 19th century too. This weekend, Donald Trump announced that he wants to end birthright citizenship—and Scott Walker, Lindsey Graham, and Bobby Jindal have all rushed to second Trump's call to repeal the 14th Amendment. Rick Santorum and Rand Paul had previously called for ending birthright citizenship; Chris Christie isn't ready to end birthright citizenship, but he's promised to "reexamine" it. (Jindal, by the way, was born in the United States to immigrant parents—so his citizenship was guaranteed by the same 14th Amendment he now wants to see repealed.)
Coming out for the repeal of the 14th Amendment is fast becoming a litmus test on the right, says TPM:
Forget building a wall. Some Republicans want to tear down an amendment in the Constitution to prove their anti-immigration bonafides. Ending birthright citizenship—the practice enshrined by the 14th Amendment that grants citizenship to anyone born on U.S. soil—is the latest conservative litmus test, thanks in no small part to Donald Trump, who included it in his immigration platform released Sunday. Since then, it’s been a race among GOP 2016ers to follow Trump to the fringes.
What's birthright citizenship? Take it away, Wiki:
The Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that "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." ... Throughout much of the history of the United States, the fundamental legal principle governing citizenship has been that birth within the territorial limits of the United States confers United States citizenship, although slaves and the children of slave mothers, under the principle of partus sequitur ventrem, were excluded. The United States did not grant citizenship after the American Civil War to all former slaves until the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which was subsequently confirmed by the Fourteenth Amendment.
ThinkProgress unpacks the racism that informed opposition to the 14th Amendment in the late 19th century and likewise informs calls to repeal it in the 21st century.
Half the GOP field calling for the end of birthright citizenship has Paul Waldman at WaPo ready to call the 2016 presidential election for the Dems:
I promise you that next fall, there are going to be ads like this running all over the country, and especially on Spanish-language media:
“My name is Lisa Hernandez. I was born in California, grew up there. I was valedictorian of my high school class, graduated from Yale, and now I’m in medical school; I’m going to be a pediatrician. But now Scott Walker and the Republicans say that because my mom is undocumented, that I’m not a real American and I shouldn’t be a citizen. I’m living the American Dream, but they want to take it away from me and people like me. Well I’ve got a message for you, Governor Walker. I’m every bit as American as your children. This country isn’t about who your parents were, it’s about everybody having a chance to work hard, achieve, and contribute to our future. It seems like some people forgot that.”
When a hundred ads like that one are blanketing the airwaves, the Republicans can say, “Wait, I support legal immigration!” all they want, but it won’t matter. Hispanic voters will have heard once again—and louder than ever before—that the GOP doesn’t like them and doesn’t want them. Will it be different if they nominate one of the candidates who doesn’t want to repeal birthright citizenship, like Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio? Somewhat, but the damage among Hispanic voters could already be too great even for them to overcome.