John Stossel & Ron Paul On Immigrationby Doug Mataconis
In the fourth part of their web-only interview, ABC’s John Stossel and Congressman Ron Paul talk about illegal immigration:
Paul, R-Texas, strongly opposes granting “amnesty” to the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States today. So I asked him what he’d do with all those immigrants. Would he try to arrest all of them?
“I don’t think anybody could find ‘em. I don’t think anybody knows where they are,” he said. “But if they come for welfare benefits, and you know they’re illegal, deny them the benefits.”
That’s the crux of Paul’s approach &3151; deny the immigrants the welfare and social services that many of them now receive.
“Get rid of the subsidies,” he said. “You subsidize illegal immigration, you get more of it.”
Paul, like most opponents of illegal immigration, seems to believe that one of the main reasons that immigrants come to the United States, whether legally or illegally, is to take advantage of welfare and other social service benefits. Frankly, I’m not so sure about that. Other than the fact that illegal immigrants will enroll their children, who are usually born here, in public schools, there doesn’t seem to be any real evidence that they use social services in any significant respect, or at a rate that is disproportionate with their percentage of the population. More likely, immigrants come here for the same reason immigrants have always come here; because there are jobs to do, whether it’s in the construction industry or elsewhere.
I agree with Congressman Paul that illegal immigrants should be denied welfare benefits, but then I think the whole welfare system should be scrapped anyway.
Paul also says that we should rethink the idea of birthright citizenship:
Paul also objects to the so-called birthright law, which grants automatic U.S. citizenship to children born to illegal immigrants in this country.
“I don’t like to reward people who sneak in for that purpose, and get on the welfare rolls,” he said.
“I think there’s confusion on interpreting the 14th Amendment,” he said. “It says that if you’re under the jurisdiction of the United States, you have a right to citizenship if you’re born here. If you step over the border and you’re illegal, are you really under the jurisdiction? There’s a question on that, and I want to clarify it.”
The problem with Paul’s position is that the text of Section 1 the 14th Amendment is fairly clear:
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. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
I really don’t see any ambiguity there. If you’re born in the United States, you are a citizen. And if you are physically within the territory of the United States, you are subject to it’s jurisdiction. There is no exception for the children of someone who came here illegally. If you want to change that, you have to amend the Constitution.
Ron Paul is less nativist that the rest of the GOP field when it comes to immigration, and there’s something to be said for that, but he’s far from perfect.