Reinterpretation of laws is rational
Illegal immigration has become one of the most contentiously debated issues, and the much-needed solution is far off. Tuesday night, President Barack Obama outlined the problems that our nation faces in his State of the Union address.
One of those problems is the DREAM Act, which is one the most prominent pieces of legislation within the debate on immigration.
Currently, five states — Arizona, Oklahoma, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina — are putting forward a somewhat new, basic idea; a reinterpretation of the 14th Amendment that would declare that children born in this country aren’t considered citizens if their parents are illegal immigrants.
Despite over 100 years of accepted interpretation, those five states feel that it is time for a change.
The approach taken seems rational. Numerous countries like Canada, the United Kingdom, and Germany, have adopted similar citizenship laws in the recent years, many requiring at least one parent to be a citizen or permanent legal resident before a child can be considered a citizen, and it continues to thrive since its adoption.
Why is America unable to do the same?
It is said that it’s unconstitutional to change the laws for every state, though after the 14th Amendment was first adopted in 1868 nothing about it was considered unconstitutional.
It also important to note that the 14th Amendment was primarily intended to guarantee rights of freed slaves after the Civil War.
Times are changing, and Amendments should change with the them when necessary. It is not unconstitutional, or at least it shouldn’t be, for a country to decide who is allowed to become a citizen and the process in which they become one.
When discussing this approach, one question that arises is this: If the legislation succeeds and the interpretation makes it past the Supreme Court, what becomes of the DREAM Act, a solution that continues to come closer to approval?
The ensuing battle between these two solutions appears to boil down to whether you are for or against immigration and its perceived effect on the economy.
Those who support the DREAM Act and oppose reinterpretation often believe what our struggling economy needs is growth, which immigration provides.
While those for reinterpretation believe that the DREAM Act would only encourage the 14th Amendment’s continued abuse and bypassing of immigration laws despite the pathway to citizenship that already exists.
But regardless of the good intentions of the DREAM Act, we cannot provide a better pathway to citizenship without setting and enforcing acceptable standards, discussing the 14th Amendment, and remembering that illegal immigration is, as the name implies, illegal.
The idea that America was built upon immigrants is irrelevant.
However, this doesn’t mean we should no longer attempt to provide opportunities to those looking for better lives.
As it stands now, our policies and methods regarding immigration are slow, ineffective, and sometimes downright unacceptable for even those who arrive through legal methods.
The effort to bring the reinterpretation to the Supreme Court is a welcome occurrence that will help settle an issue that has been floating and left unsettled for too long.