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With a new 2011 Congress, the fight is again joined. Representative Gary Miller, a Republican whose district runs from Mission Viejo to Diamond Bar, has with several House colleagues reintroduced the Birthright Citizenship Act, H.R. 140. The OpenCongress.org summary states that the bill would “eliminate birthright citizenship for children born to undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Current law automatically recognizes any person born on American soil as a natural born citizen. Under the bill, only children with at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen, a legal permanent resident, or an undocumented immigrant serving in the military would be considered citizens.”

According to a press release from Miller’s office, “Currently, there are 3.4 million U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants between the ages of 5 and 18, representing more than 70 percent of the population of children of illegal immigrants. The cost of childbirth and prenatal care is often paid for by American taxpayers, and illegal immigrant parents receive government benefits via their U.S. citizen child. In fact, this exploitation of the Fourteenth Amendment costs American taxpayers over $5.6 billion annually at the federal level, and it costs billions more at the state and local level.”

What are the human numbers? The Pew Hispanic Center reports that an estimated 340,000 children were born in America in 2008, the “offspring of unauthorized immigrants.” This is roughly 8 percent of the 4.3 million babies born that year. About two-thirds of the parents of the 340,000 births have been in the United States for at least five years. This would suggest that some portion of the parents of 117,000 babies may have entered the U.S. illegally to have a child. In total, there are currently 4 million U.S.-born children of unauthorized immigrants residing in the country.

The issue is grounded as much in constitutional precedent as it is in a design paradox. This is delineated best by Lino Graglia, professor of law at the University of Texas. Graglia writes: “It is difficult to imagine a more irrational and self-defeating legal system than one which makes unauthorized entry into this country a criminal offense and simultaneously provides perhaps the greatest possible inducement to illegal entry.”

It still seems that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. There are plenty of programs in America for pregnant women and nursing mothers, legal and illegal alike, such as Women, Infants, and Children; Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California); and a chance at relief from deportation: some 4000 unauthorized immigrants are given such status each year, but the parent must have been in the country at least ten years.

Locally, Jeff Schwilk, cofounder and spokesman for the San Diego Minutemen, agrees that these advantages have to be curbed. He and his group rally on the border with banners, speeches, and a lot of media coverage, calling for beefed-up border security. Schwilk tells me by phone that his 800 members are fed up with federal immigration policy. While building a fence “takes years and billions of dollars,” which the Minutemen favor, Congress, he notes, can change this loophole “in an afternoon. It’s hanging fruit — easy to do.”

Schwilk repeatedly uses the phrase “anchor baby.” It implies, as does Senator Lindsay Graham’s phrase “drop and leave,” a callousness on the part of families who use children to get something for nothing. Schwilk also employs the catch-phrase “jackpot babies.” That is, he says, where “baby equals money. On this side of the border, it’s big dollar signs.” He cites CalWorks as one program that pays the poor and unemployed a monthly stipend: many of its enrollees, he notes, are the citizen-children of illegals.

Schwilk is anti-Republican party, anti-amnesty, anti-George W. Bush. He calls the former president “pro-illegal” and himself a “constitutional conservative. I don’t trust Republicans,” he says, to solve this issue. He and the Minutemen focus on bulking up border security. What he’s seen is a “50 percent drop in border crossings.” In the previous decade, “95 percent got through.” Still, this drop is not significant for him: “To say you can’t get back is not even close. Estimates are that somewhere between 400,000 and a million people make it through every year. The Border Patrol says that they catch 450,000 but they have never claimed they catch more than one in two, or one in three. Nor do they even try. Their goal is to stop drug smuggling and terrorists. That’s their mission.”

Changing — or as it’s also termed, reinterpreting — the Fourteenth Amendment shouldn’t be hard for Congress, Schwilk says. He believes it was intended (upon ratification in 1868) to grant citizenship only to African-Americans; it was never intended to give citizenship to “the children of illegal aliens.” (The amendment excluded American Indians, whose tribes have sovereignty, and the children of diplomats.) Schwilk wants to follow the leads of every European country that has “closed this loophole” and make it a law that citizenship be conferred only on those born to parents of whom one is a citizen or legal resident. “That seems only fair to the 1.5 million who come here legally every year.”

Keeping Birthright Intact

By contrast, those opposed to amending the Constitution often describe the right wing’s attack as “political theater.” They argue the congressional action will do nothing to stop illegal immigration. Such is the view of John Skrentny, director for the Center for Immigration Studies at the University of California, San Diego. “Regarding your question,” he writes in an email, “I would say this: while I will not comment on the pros and cons of the birthright citizenship that we have in the United States, I will say that there is little reason to expect that eliminating it will significantly reduce the amount of illegal immigration that we attract. Very few countries provide for birthright citizenship, but all developed countries have problems with illegal immigration. Our problem may be worse in terms of numbers than developed states in Europe or Asia, but there are many reasons for this. It’s hard to make direct comparisons because America is unique in ways other than birthright citizenship. For example, I know of no developed countries in Europe or Asia that share a long land border with a country that is significantly poorer (as we share with Mexico). This fact alone almost certainly has more to do with illegal immigration than the 14th Amendment.”

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minutemanproject Sept. 23, 2011 @ 12:44 a.m.

As long as organizations like the California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR), William Gheens's ALIPAC, and Jeff Schwilk's San Diego Minutemen (SDMM) are involved in the illegal immigration issue there will never be a respectable solution to the problem.

In my opinion, these hooligans of political activism have so tarnished the image of immigration law enforcement advocates that it has become extremely difficult to get serious and committed attention to the issue by our nation's political governors.

It is no wonder that the Obama Administration has seized the opportunity to take advantage of the disarray of so-called immigration law enforcement activists by announcing its planned "delay" (aka amnesty) in court proceedings for the millions of illegal aliens currently occupying U.S. territory.

Although there are many sincere and well-meaning persons involved in the movement advocating enforcement of U.S. immigration laws, they have unfortunately been trampled and shouted down by the ultra right bullies of political activism who really are involved in activism only as a means of fulfilling a sick quest for a delusional recognition as the "savior" of America, or to carry out a covert racist agenda.

Shockingly, as I look back on the past seven years of activism in the illegal immigration issue, I can honestly say that I have encountered more unethical, immoral, and criminal-minded persons from my side of the debate than I have from the adversarial side of the debate.

Unless immigration law enforcement advocates conduct themselves in a respectable manner, there is little chance any political representative or candidate will ever take them seriously. Ergo, there is a very high likelihood that U.S. immigration laws will never be seriously enforced and "amnesty for illegals" will be the conduct du jour.

Sincerely Yours,

Jim Gilchrist, President, The Minuteman Project

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Fred Williams Sept. 26, 2011 @ 10:12 a.m.

One of the main reasons we have illegal immigration in the first place is that LEGAL immigration is ridiculously difficult:

http://reason.org/files/cb299f0134ca8bb75243c69caa92eea7.pdf

To demonize those who are forced to dodge this bizarre maze of contradictions is immoral.

When I was on the Border Solution Task Force, I found too that those who are involved in this issue are too frequently unethical, immoral, and criminal minded racists. I quit that group to save my own dignity and reputation...I want immigration reform, not lynch mobs of the ignorant rounding up hard working people who happened to be born on the wrong side of a border.

Full Disclosure: I've lived and worked, legally, in several countries around the world. Because of my technical skills and experiences, many places welcome me and I pay them a lot in taxes. My own country, however, according to the rules, would never allow me in...that's how pathetic current immigration rules are.

Best,

Fred Williams

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Justified Sept. 23, 2011 @ 1:34 p.m.

Does Mr. Gilchrist have a google alert set for Jeff Schwilk's name? Because every time I read an article with Jeff's name in it, I always find a defamation remark written by Gilchrist about Jeff. If I was Mr. Schwilk, I would file a lawsuit.

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rubliw Sept. 24, 2011 @ 12:41 p.m.

Mr. Gilchrist has done more damage to the illegal immigration movement than anyone. Who founds a program and then goes out of their way to destroy it? I tell you who, the person that becomes not so much the media darling anymore, not so much bank accounts filled to the top, other groups doing the right thing getting better notoriety . Mr. Gilchrist How many times have you actually day in or day out been on the front lines doing the foot work? I've seen you do the photo ops, nothing else. If you gave a flying leap about the movement you would not be trying to put down the movement every chance you get, while giving kudos to the other side. Really? You need to say nothing, instead of trying to sound important, and keep your name out there. If you want to defect just do it and leave the movement alone. When you write on these blogs, write the truth, not falsehoods. Your importance has been greatly exaggerated.

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Twister Sept. 24, 2011 @ 9:29 p.m.

My grandpappy was descended from a bunch of aliens who slaughtered my grandmother's people and imposed government (my grandmother's people didn't need no stinkin' gummint!) upon them, but she married him anyway. I'm "stuck" with the fact that if they ever made all the aliens go back where they came from, they'd have to cut more than a pound of flesh off me to send back.

"My ancestors didn't come over in the Mayflower--they met the boat."

"I am a Cherokee and it's the proudest little possession I ever hope to have." ~Will Rogers

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minutemanproject Sept. 25, 2011 @ 10:14 p.m.

Gee whiz, Justified, sorry it offends you if I bring public awareness to the rampant illegal alien invasion of the United States with my talent for media involvement. But, that is how issues come under the national spotlight. duh!

Going to the border to have a weeny roast BBQ and dunk a few beers with a bunch of incurable KKK wannabes, and calling that border observation "foot work" is not my idea of an effective use of time. It's tantamount to a bunch of Brown Beret wannabes at a "hate the gringo" pinata contest, or a bunch of Black Panthers at a Louis Farrakahn "kill whitey" hate fest dinner thinking that's all they need to do to make the world a better place.

When I go to the border I bring hundreds of volunteers and stay on outposts for weeks. I also vet participants to exclude social maladroits and outright racists who have attempted to attach themselves to a movement that should be conducted within the rule of law if it wants any chance of succeeding. Unfortunately, the ongoing infighting sponsored by ALIPAC, SDMM and CCIR have stalled the Minuteman Project's plan of bringing 2,500 (yes, twenty five hundred) volunteers to the Arizona border for another 30-day observation and reporting event. I've done it before; I can do it again...bigger and better next time. We have the resources to pull it off. But, that event will be postponed until the trouble-making activists in this movement conduct themselves in a respectable and mature manner.

I do not make a policy to "put down the [immigration law advocacy] movement every chance" I get. But my experiences with some of the persons, in my opinion, who have tried to dominate the issue with their own brands of fascism, racism, and incurable hatred have led me to distance my organization from them. Honestly, the worst participants, perhaps with the most sinister followers, are ALIPAC, San Diego Minutemen, and the California Coalition for Immigration Reform, as well as some greedy former volunteers.

I didn't pick a fight with them. They picked a fight with me and the most precious values established by our nation's Founding Fathers. Many American men and women have died for those precious values over the centuries, including 72 good young men from my own company of Marine infantrymen in the Vietnam War. The Minuteman Project refuses to associate with "goose steppers," criminal mentalities, haters, bigots, and those with a penchant for lying and stealing. Sorry if that disappoints you, but that is the guiding light I follow.

I will continue to move the issue of illegal immigration, but I will do it without the interference of those ignorant and foolish persons who have put the movement into a stalemate by sponsoring infighting. These hooligans are no better than the "reconquistas" or the reckless politicians who have aggressively encouraged this unprecedented invasion of our country.

Sincerely Yours,

Jim Gilchrist, President, The Minuteman Project

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David Dodd Sept. 26, 2011 @ 5:41 a.m.

Excuse me, Mr. Gilchist, but you and your henchman are about 15 years too late to the party. I don't care who is or isn't a racist, there is no separation of hatred from any of the groups. A bunch of Veterans missing their days in the service got together and cooked up a scheme so swell that I'm sure you all have yourselves convinced that millions of illegals are massing into the U.S. every week. Sorry to disappoint you and the politicians that have obviously duped 40% or more of the American people into believing that illegals entering the country is some big enormous problem, but the very small amount of illegals that enter the country pales in comparison with the problem that the U.S. now has, which is what to do about the many millions of Mexicans and people of other nationalities that have been living and working in the U.S. for 20 years or more.

So why don't you and all of the other Rambo types put away your guns, break camp, get together back in the city, and figure out a solution to THAT issue. And you'll have to do it without violating their human rights, an issue that Arizona obviously doesn't yet understand. And you'll have to do it knowing that until the U.S. Constitution is changed, that all of their babies and children that were born in the U.S. are U.S. citizens, so deporting their parents might not be in the best interest of the U.S. since having a bunch of babies and children being taken care of by the State doesn't sound like a good idea.

And you can start first by understanding that the U.S. brought this on themselves. I've lived in Mexico, right here on the border, for almost 20 years. When I first came here - crossing the border every day through various ports of entries - literally thousands of illegals simply ran through the border every day in packs of a couple of hundred at a time. Sometimes the single border guard that chased the pack managed to apprehend one. Before I came to live here, I hear it was much worse.

That never happens now.

I could go back to research I've done, historically, concerning how the State of California actually encouraged Mexicans - regardless of status, paperwork, citizenship - to cross any way they could and work the fields in Central California, as late as the 1960's. But I won't bother, I'm sure that all of this has been pointed out to you before. The problem started then and there. The point is, your organizations will never have any effect on the politics of trying to get the government to keep a few dozen Mexicans a week from entering the U.S. illegally through the desert. Because what you are doing is a silly and veiled attempt at pretending you are back in the service and somehow serving your country. You aren't, you are simply making yourselves more irrelevant in the eyes of anyone that would take up a cause that you are pretending to promote.

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Evelyn Sept. 26, 2011 @ 2:34 p.m.

oh man, a million cover stories can be done up on the topic… and now for my thoughts:

people be tripping if they think i'm gonna vote to lose my citizenship. (re: amending the 14th amendment) my brother's might be for it, but then again, their conservatives and i'm a bleeding heart liberal.

and how unpatriotic are the doctors and hospitals that help any woman in labor without checking their documentation. isn't america's wellbeing more important than the individual's!?!?

actually my socialist leaning would command a yes to the above question; except for the fact that if a significant number of our individuals are weakened, then the entire system is weakened.

it's ridiculous to hear people say that if they could cross legally then everyone should, like Maria in the story. she was a nurse in Mexico: she had a job, she had an income, she didn't have an overwhelming desperate need to move countries. desperation makes people do crazy, crazy, desperate things.

in the end, I think refried's right. the us needs a solution to the undocumented immigrants currently in country. and, id add, mexico needs a solution that focuses on self reliance within its country, not the US's… and the countries seriously need to improve the immigration process. or even just the come over the imaginary line and visit for a while process (i.e. visas and passports).

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David Dodd Sept. 27, 2011 @ 1:21 p.m.

I agree, it is certainly time for Mexico to end its encouragement of migration to the U.S. in order to take advantage of money sent home. It is getting better, but there is a long way to go here.

I'll add this: My own sister-in-law, armed with a visa, had her little girl in the U.S. Why? Because her husband has family in Los Angeles, U.S. citizens, and they visit often. She came right back into Mexico, she has a practice here and does just fine for herself. Sometimes it's simply the convenience of being able to cross the border once every few months without repercussions.

As for myself, my daughter was born right here in Tijuana. My wife had a visa at the time, and we discussed it, and decided that ultimately, she should be born Mexican and decide for herself. She has a Green Card. If I wanted to, I could certainly push the issue, as I am a U.S. citizen, so long as I pay the U.S. Government a "fee", she will automatically become a U.S. citizen. That's not going to happen. That decision is hers.

But there are far too many trapped in the U.S. That really is the bigger issue.

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SDMM Sept. 27, 2011 @ 10:20 p.m.

Dozens of countries around the world have repealed their birthright citizenship laws over the past 20 year. Only the U.S. and Canada still continue the practice of giving free citizenship to the babies of ILLEGAL aliens, among industrialized nations. It is time to repeal BRC in 2011.

HR 140 must be pushed for a vote, passage in Congress, and signed by our the president. Its the right and sane thing to do to close the anchor baby loophole for illegal aliens.

Mr. Gilchrist speaks only for himself since he was kicked out of the mainstream secure borders movement in 2008. He was further exiled in 2009 when his border director, Shawna Forde, murdered a 9 year old girl and her father in Arivaca, AZ. She was convicted earlier this year and is on death row awaiting execution. Gilchrist has been trying to sabotage the movement and all other real grass-roots groups every since. He's a sad, broken man and fallen leader. His slander and smear above are completely false and meaningless.

All legitimate Patriot groups in Southern California are part of the SoCal Patriot Coalition. 34 good groups in all - www.SoCalPatriots.com. />

Illegal aliens and their offspring in California (est. 4 million) cost CA taxpayers over $20 BILLION each year. See the breakdown of costs in the 2010 study at www.FAIRus.org.

The only people who still support ILLEGAL immigration and open borders in 2011 are family members of illegals and persons involved in the smuggling and exploitation of illegal aliens and drugs from Mexico, i.e. organized crime. Oh and ignorant bleeding heart liberals. Real Americans respect the rule of law and LEGAL immigration.

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SDMM Sept. 28, 2011 @ 11:28 p.m.

By the way, Jeff Schwilk is part Hispanic and many other leaders in the SoCal Patriot Coalition are Mexican-American or Hispanic.

Jim Gilchrist is 100% anglo. When he says he knows lots of racists in his "movement", he's obviously speaking only for his tiny fundraising MMP group which is run by 3 white men: Gilchrist, Steven Eichler, and Tim Bueler. You be the judge.

This is one main reason MMP was kicked out of the mainstream anti-illegal immigration movement in 2008. Gilchrist is a fraud and a scam artist with questionable associations and affiliations.

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