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Immigration & Assimilation

CEO chairman Linda Chavez discusses Donald Trump and Birthright Citizenship

On August 19th, CEO Chairman Linda Chavez appeared on "All in with Chris Hayes" on MSNBC to discuss birthright citizenship. Duration: 11:46

The Immigration Impasse

The Right’s division on immigration cuts across the usual lines: There are social conservatives, hawks, and economic conservatives in each camp. The division goes deep: It reflects differences about not only what policies the government should adopt but the moral convictions that should underlie them and the political strategies that should accompany them. One thing all of these camps share, however, is a lack of political realism.


The Constitutionality of Arizona SB 1070 and other state immigration laws

The Issue Brief also illuminates the question of to what extent SB 1070 and similar state laws permit racial profiling, and concludes that such profiling “is not merely incipient in the statute (and proposed copycats in Florida, Michigan, Rhode Island and South Carolina), it is expressly authorized.”

Click Here to Download the Issue Brief.

Truth and Consequences: The impact of repealing "Birthright Citizenship"

Welcoming Remarks:

  • Caroline Fredrickson, Executive Director, American Constitution Society for Law and Policy 

The panel will feature:

  • ModeratorAngela Maria Kelley, VP for Immigration Policy and Advocacy, Center for American Progress
  • Sam Fulwood III, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
  • Wade Henderson, President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • Priscilla Huang, Associate Policy Director, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum 
  • Margaret Stock, Adjunct Instructor, University of Alaska Anchorage

Boneheaded Birthright Citizenship Fight

Jen is right on both the substance and politics of a GOP move to revoke birthright citizenship from children born to illegal aliens. As I’ve written here and here , the 14th Amendment was carefully drawn and debated to exclude only two categories of persons: the children of diplomats and children born on Indian reservations that were deemed sovereign territories at the time.


Answering the Critics of Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Argument #1: "Immigration reform will harm taxpayers." Response: Legalizing both the flow of workers and the workers already here will help taxpayers by raising the newly legalized workers' productivity, their earnings, and the likelihood that they will pay taxes in the formal economy.


Eastman is wrong: the Constitution does guarantee birthright citizenship

John Eastman has taken me to task for what he calls my misreading of the language and history of the 14th Amendment in a recent op-ed I wrote for The Wall Street Journal. We’ve known each other for decades, and I consider Eastman a friend, but he’s simply wrong in thinking the children born to illegal immigrants in the United States are not entitled to birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment.


Born in the USA?: The historical and constitutional underpinnings of Birthright Citizenship

On March 31, 2011, the American Constitution Society and the Center for American Progress brought together leading thinkers to discuss current challenges to birthright citizenship and provide historical perspective to the debate about what the 14th Amendment guarantees.  


Republican debate needs immigration unity

This week's column is co-authored by John Fonte.

The two of us strongly disagree on immigration policy and have engaged in lively public debate on the issue over the years. But one thing we agree on is that whatever immigration policy prevails, it must be accompanied by the patriotic assimilation of immigrants and their children. Support for patriotic assimilation should unite Republicans on both sides of the immigration issue. We’d like to see the matter addressed in the Republican presidential debate Thursday.

The essential American ideal of E Pluribus Unum “out of many one,” was put on theGreat Seal of the United States during the American Revolution and came to signify our nation’s great success in assimilating immigrants. Today, however, many of our institutions appear to focus almost exclusively on the pluribus, while ignoring the unum, preferring to emphasize what divides us into groups rather than what unites us as Americans.

This divisive group-based emphasis has been going on for decades. In 1978, in one of his famous radio broadcasts, Ronald Reagan lauded the success of immigrant assimilation, while lamenting efforts “to change this land from a melting pot into an all nations smorgasbord.” He warned that, “possibly for political purposes, we seem bent on doing away with the melting pot, recreating strict ethnic divisions.”

It has only gotten worse since, largely without an honest, serious, and open debate on what type of assimilation is best for our country.

To be clear, by patriotic assimilation we do not mean that newcomers to America must give up all ethnic traditions, customs, and birth languages. Patriotic assimilation has nothing to do with the food one eats, the religion one practices, the affection that one feels for the land of one’s birth and the second languages that one speaks. Multi-ethnicity and ethnic subcultures have enriched America since colonial days.

However, while we are a multiracial and multiethnic people, we are not and should not be, “multicultural” in the adversarial sense of clashing and conflicting world views, ways of life and what Tocqueville called mores, habits of the heart. We need to help newcomers form an attachment to and loyalty towards our constitutional democracy and affirm what used to proudly be called the American way of life. And it is not only immigrants who would benefit from a re-invigoration of patriotic assimilation. Our education system has failed to inculcate these values in native-born Americans as well.

So what constitutes patriotic assimilation? First of all, if our democracy is going to work, Americans must be able to communicate with each other.

A common language is essential for the health of our constitutional republic and civic life. For historical reasons, English has been that common language and we should make it our official language. Encouraging newcomers to learn English benefits immigrants by allowing them to climb the economic ladder and integrate into the larger society. Policies that segregate youngsters who speak a foreign language do them a great disservice. Instead, our priority should be to teach them English quickly and move them into the educational mainstream.

Second, we should reject policies that deepen ethnic and cultural divisions, classifying Americans by artificial, bureaucratically-created groups that government officials then use to award preferences in hiring, contracting, and college admissions. Past discrimination of racial and ethnic minorities in America was shameful. But contemporary “identity politics” and politically correct ethnic and racial discrimination that favors some groups over others is similarly divisive and wrong.

Third, our schools should teach the full story of America. Too often, trendy educators prefer to view American history through the distorted lens of race, ethnicity, gender, and class with an emphasis on ethnic, imperialist, and capitalist “exploitation,” ignoring the comprehensive narrative of our constitutional, intellectual, economic and cultural development and positive role in world affairs.

Demographic changes have made it more important than ever that our children are familiar first and foremost with American history as opposed to a “global” approach that focuses on other societies.

As philosopher Sidney Hook put it in 1984, precisely because America is a “pluralistic, multiethnic, uncoordinated society” all citizens need a “prolonged schooling in the history of our free society, its martyrology, and its national tradition.”

Finally, newcomers preparing for citizenship should be taught that patriotism — love of their new country — is essential to good citizenship. Being a good citizen entails knowing one’s duty not just one’s rights. But it is not only immigrants who need this lesson. We need leaders in government, education, business and culture who are not embarrassed about speaking openly on the centrality of patriotism to the wellbeing of our nation.