Saturday, April 16, 2011

You better get born someplace else

Pennsylvania's HB 474 was sent on to the State Government committee in March. It would authorize " the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to join the Interstate Compact on Birth Certificates Issued to Aliens Not Subject to United States Jurisdiction; providing for the form of the compact; and imposing additional powers and duties on the Governor, the Secretary of the Commonwealth and the Compact."

The Interstate Compact seeks to deny privileges of U.S. citizenship to the U.S.‐born children of unauthorized immigrants. Because citizenship is within the purview of the federal government, and not the states, the proponents hope that doing so will ultimately trigger a Supreme Court review of the 14th Amendment.

The U. S. conference of Catholic Bishops opposes the repeal of birthright citizenship.

They state, through their
Justice for Immigrants campaign, that: "were birthright citizenship repealed, unauthorized immigration would not be significantly deterred. Instead, the numbers of unauthorized immigrants in the United States would increase dramatically – from the current 11 million to anywhere from 16 to 24 million or more – and there would be thousands of U.S.‐born children who would be rendered stateless – without citizenship – and unauthorized in the United States. These children – who have done nothing wrong by being born in the United States to unauthorized immigrant parents – would be punished by relegating them to second or third‐class members of U.S. society. And, it would place an undue burden on all Americans, eliminating easy proof of citizenship status through birth certificates, and replacing it with an onerous process of having to trace one’s family heritage and produce documentation of blood relations." (Emphasis is mine.)

Sponsors of HB 474 are: Reps. Scott Boyd, Paul Clymer, Jim Cox, Tom Creighton, Matt Gabler, Richard Geist, Adam Harris, Rob Kauffman, Jerry Knowles, Daryl Metcalfe, Ron Miller, Thomas Murt, Bernie O'Neill, Jeffrey Pyle, Kathy Rapp, Todd Rock, Curt Schroder and RoseMarie Swanger. (Cox, Gabler, Kauffman, Knowles and Metcalfe are all members of the State Government committee.)

Please contact them and oppose the Compact or any other measures to repeal birthright citizenship.
I've been thinking a lot about the way we will accept a person's labor without valuing or accepting the person doing the work. It seems to me that this really the heart of the desire to repeal birthright citizenship -- now, and back when the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment reversed Dred Scott v. Sandford (the 1857 decision in which the Supreme Court held that U.S.‐born persons of African descent were not citizens, thereby denying citizenship to slaves and freemen).

And because I've been thinking about this, I've been running into all manner of art that speaks to some aspect of "you can till my fields (wash my laundry, tend my lawn, cook my food) but you can't be born here or think to belong."

So, here is one, "Moving On Song: Go, Move, Shift," performed by Chris Wood, Karine Polwart and the MacColl brothers (my thanks to
Terri Windling's the Drawing Board blog for introducing me to it). Written to reflect the treatment of Roma (Gypsies) and Travellers in Great Britain and Europe, it's words are distressingly apt to our discussions of birthright citizenship: "The work’s all done, it’s time that you were moving on … now you better get born someplace else."

Send me your links to poems, stories, music, visual art, etc. that speak in a special way to the efforts to repeal birthright citizenship or other issues surrounding the current immigration debate -- if I like them, I'll post them.

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