Bad Politics, Terrible Policy, and Disastrous for the Country
On a press call today, children of undocumented immigrants joined Ricardo Aca, DACA recipient who works at the Trump Hotel, and legal expert David Leopold, to respond to the latest stream of anti-immigrant demagoguery and unpack what ending “birthright citizenship” really means for politics and policy.
As Girsea Martinez, a member of United We Dream and a 25 year-old U.S. citizen with undocumented parents, said: “You’d think that in the year 2015, candidates for President could do better than to refer to voters like me with a slur. Donald Trump’s extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric is offensive but it isn’t new and sadly, he isn’t alone this year. I, and the members of United We Dream will make sure that our community knows exactly what the candidates are saying about us and what is at stake.”
Hina Naveed, DREAMer and Organizer for the Staten Island Dream Coalition whose little sister is a U.S. citizen, had this to say: “Research shows the primary driving force behind immigration is economic opportunity. Trump, with his ample resources, is unable to use a basic search engine to fact-check his outrageous claims. Revoking the 14th Amendment that guarantees birthright citizenship will not ‘make America great again.’ Punishing children born here, like my sister, is not the solution to a broken immigration system.”
The GOP’s lurch to the right on birthright citizenship will have serious political consequences for the Party writ large. A new Telemundo piece profiles a number of Latino voters with undocumented parents, expressing frustrating with the GOP field and their attacks on immigrant families. As one young man, Zenen Jaimes, told Telemundo (translated by America’s Voice), “They’re talking about me. They’re stripping away my mom’s and my humanity. And I want to tell them that I’ll be voting next year and I will remember this.”
Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice, said this: “It’s hard to win an election by attacking voters, and that’s exactly what many in the Republican presidential field is doing. Even Jeb Bush, who’s supposed to be the candidate who ‘gets it’ on immigration, is walking around using an offensive term like ‘anchor babies.’ The current GOP position on immigration may make Rep. Steve King happy, but it ought to keep Reince Preibus up at night.”
While some members of the media (most prominent on cable TV) continue to fawn over Trump and his outrageous diatribes, members of the pro-immigrant community are standing up to him. Ricardo Aca is a DACA recipient who works at the Trump Hotel in Soho. He rose to national prominence this week after speaking out against Trump and reminding the rest of the GOP field of the hardworking, immigrant faces behind their racial slurs: “As an undocumented immigrant working in a Trump hotel, I wanted to be part of a video to tell my story, because I know that what Trump said about Mexican immigrants isn’t true. It isn’t true about me, it isn’t true about my family, and it isn’t true about the people who work in Trump’s buildings.”
Opponents of the Republican plan to rewrite citizenship are not only standing on moral ground, but they have the law behind them as well.
David Leopold, Immigration Attorney and Past President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, explained: “When it comes down to it, the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment has little to do with immigration; it’s fundamentally focused on the preservation on civil rights. Trump’s extremist proposal to end birthright citizenship—whether by elimination or by reinterpretation of the Citizenship Clause—comes at the grave cost of abridging civil rights, even harkening back to the days of Dred Scott, when people were viewed as commodities to be bought, sold and abused. Rather than challenge a constitutional provision that reversed a notorious Supreme Court decision, the effect of which was to dehumanize and deprive African-Americans of U.S. citizenship, Trump would better serve the GOP, and this nation, by proposing serious immigration policy solutions.”
“It is ironic that a Party which claims to revere the U.S. Constitution is so willing to rip it up when it comes to these fundamental principles,” Tramonte concluded.
To listen to a recording of today’s call, click here.