As a native citizen of this great land, I’m entitled to certain inalienable rights. Everyone’s saying I was endowed with those rights by my Creator. It’s tremendous. Just fantastic, really.
While I have more Native American DNA than most US Senators, I’m only “native” to this land by virtue of the fact that I was born here. There is no doubt as to my citizenship status: I was born at a very young age in Houston, Texas, USA, in 1976, to two native-born American citizens.
And that last part doesn’t even matter! Since 1868, the question of anyone’s parents’ citizenship has been irrelevant. Before 1868, there might have been an inquiry as to my race, my parents’ citizenship, and their status as enslaved or free. But through the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, the fact that I was born here is the sole determinative factor as to whether I am a citizen of the United States.
That has been our nation’s law for literally 150 years. It’s given countless tired and poor immigrants, huddled in masses as they’re wont to do, a generational finish line. If you’re yearning to give your children a chance at class mobility, otherwise unattainable in your home country, find a way to get to America.
If your kids are born here, they’re Americans. End of inquiry. They’re entitled to all of the rights, privileges, and obligations of every other American citizen, even if you never realize that destiny yourself.
Interestingly, the President of the United States thinks this 150-year-old settled Constitutional amendment is a liberal conspiracy, on par with making elementary schools serve vegetables with their lunches. YUCKY, amirite?!
Here are few of the President’s “hot takes” on this bit of American constitutional law, all espoused extemporaneously while the Presidential Bowels were being evacuated early Halloween morn.
“So-called Birthright Citizenship, which costs our Country billions of dollars and is very unfair to our citizens, will be ended one way or the other. It is not covered by the 14th Amendment because of the words ‘subject to the jurisdiction thereof.’ Many legal scholars agree…” – Donald Trump via Twitter, October 31, 2018 (random capitalizations in original, because the President’s bone spurs forced him to miss that day in second grade when they discussed common versus proper nouns).
“Paul Ryan should be focusing on holding the Majority rather than giving his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about! Our new Republican Majority will work on this, Closing the Immigration Loopholes and Securing our Border!” – Donald Trump via Twitter, October 31, 2018 (random capitalizations in original, because the President thinks in German and has to translate as he tweets).
“Harry Reid was right in 1993, before he and the Democrats went insane and started with the Open Borders (which brings massive Crime) ‘stuff.’ Don’t forget the nasty term Anchor Babies. I will keep our Country safe. This case will be settled by the United States Supreme Court!” – Donald Trump via Twitter, October 31, 2018 (random capitalizations in original, because the President has tiny hands but fat thumbs).
“The World is using our laws to our detriment. They laugh at the Stupidity they see!” – Donald Trump via Twitter, October 31, 2018 (random capitalizations in original, because the President is actively trying to pit grammar Nazis against actual Nazis).
Mr. Trump believes that taking the ol’ hour-long, McDonald’s-induced “morning constitutional” grants him something more than tingly legs and hemorrhoids. It also makes him a constitutional scholar.
I’m actually not concerned with the merits of Donald Trump’s constitutional point of view. He’s likely never read the Constitution. He’s likely never read anything, to be fair. His source on everything is, “a lot of people have been saying.”
In other words, I am confident that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution will survive the ramblings of Donny “Fat Thumbs” Trump, the undisputed Twitter champion of the 72-years-and-older division.
I am much more concerned that his base believes he’s right when he decries immigration and the 14th Amendment as “unfair.” I’m bothered that our president has a natural inclination to leverage his base’s racism, and xenophobia for short-term political gain.
I’m even more bothered that so many people are so ripe for such ugly leverage.
To that end, I am drilling down and unraveling some of the more pernicious lies the Trump base believes about people immigrating to the United States. With that, I give you…
6 Lies About Immigrants Trump Hopes You Believe
1. They Don’t Pay Taxes.
Of course they do. They pay sales taxes on almost everything they purchase, just like you. They pay tolls to use roads, just like you. They pay gas tax when they fill up their tanks. If they rent, they pay property tax by paying rent to a landlord who pays property tax. If they own a home, they pay property taxes themselves.
They pay into Social Security and Medicare with every paycheck, just like you. And if they are undocumented, they will never draw payments or benefits from those programs.
They have income taxes withheld every paycheck. If they are documented, they go through the same process you do to either get a refund or pay more each year, just like you. If they are undocumented, they don’t get any of their money back.
To be fair, there are indeed people in this country who don’t pay their fair share of taxes. They’re called rich people. If you’re angry about how unfair that is, vote to change the rule makers, and demand they change the rules.
2. They Use Our Services.
I never quite understand this one. I’m guessing that your real concern is better phrased as, “They use our services, but they don’t pay their fair share to use them, like we do.”
I would direct you to a portion of this article entitled They Don’t Pay Taxes. It occurred one section before this one. Let me sum it up for you: yeah, they do.
“But I went to the emergency room one night and it was full of people speaking Spanish!”
Okay, now I get it. You’re mad because in the absence of a logical means of administering health care, people at the bottom socio-economic rung of our country are left to the mercy of an overburdened emergency care scheme! Good on you, fledgling social justice advocate!
Oh, and also, you think you’re busting your a**, paying for “them” while they’re taking advantage of our luxurious county hospitals’ posh amenities at 3:00 am on a Tuesday. Those crafty pendejos!
Still, it seems you’re likely upset about the wrong part of that scenario.
When you see immigrants using the ER, you should ask: why are they skipping straight to the ER for healthcare? What happened to preventative care? Why didn’t they just get an appointment and go to the doctor?
The answer is the exact same for immigrants, documented and undocumented, as it is for all of the poor and middle-class American citizens in the same predicament: they don’t have health insurance.
If you want to be mad about something, be mad about this: there’s an entire class of people in this country that pays taxes, contributes, and works hard, and they still can’t go to the doctor when they need to. And membership in that class transcends national origin.
There is an answer, but it’s not about deporting José for needing antibiotics.
The solution requires voting to change the way laws are made. It requires muting the lobbyists who fight to keep healthcare and insurance for-profit. It demands all of us decide we value health and well-being for the masses over profits for the exceedingly few.
If you’re mad, be mad, but suspend your simplistic, ugly notion that José somehow made your healthcare costs go up. Look instead at the way the system allocates resources. Ask why the CEO of each American health insurance company gets millions and millions of those “resources” while you (and José) can’t get a doctor’s appointment if your life depends on it.
You and José have a lot more in common than you realize.
3. Their Kids Use Our Services.
Our schools are crowded and underfunded, and now our kids have to share limited educational resources with kids who shouldn’t even be here?
Yes, that’s correct.
And much like the previous section, you’re mad about the wrong part of that statement.
Be angry that your kids’ school is underfunded, and vote to increase educational funding. Stand in solidarity with teachers seeking higher wages so they don’t have to pick up shifts at Chili’s four nights a week to make ends meet. Vote for school board members who will support the music, art, and drama programs. Vote “yes” on school bonds, even if you don’t have children in school.
And remember: schools are generally funded by property taxes. If you rent, your rent payment is going to a landlord who pays property tax for the home in which you live. Said differently: renters pay property tax, too. If a family lives in the district and pays rent or a mortgage, they’re paying for their kids’ education, just like you are.
Your kids’ education won’t be impacted negatively by overcrowding if your school is adequately funded and staffed. If you’re looking for someone to blame, go to a school board meeting and start asking tough questions. If the board members blame anyone other than the voters and the school board, vote the bastards out!
4. They Take Our Jobs.
Good lord. No they don’t. You don’t really believe this, do you?
Let me see if I have your hypothesis correct.
People from “sh*thole countries” with less-than-stellar educational systems come to the United States. Those people cannot speak our language. They have minimal connections here. They’re rapists, they’re drug dealers, they have leprosy and smallpox.
They write all of that on le résumé, and BAM! They’re hired.
You need to decide: are they depraved, diseased criminals, or are they polished applicants for the jobs you’re gunning for? Or maybe they’re both? You’ve got me really confused here.
It’s soul-searching time. If a drug-dealing rapist with smallpox who can’t speak English and doesn’t know anyone is a BETTER CANDIDATE FOR A JOB THAN YOU, what the actual f*ck is wrong with you?
And don’t tell me business owners are making mistakes, or hiring immigrants because they’re cheaper. HOW DARE YOU QUESTION A JOB CREATOR! This is a capitalist utopia, and small business owners are infallible.
5. They Are Lazy.
No, they’re not. How is this still a thing?
Immigrants are the definition of real bootstrap hustle. Not the fake “teach classes on the internet about creating sales funnels” bootstrap hustle, mind you. I’m talking about the kind of bootstrapping where someone literally starts with nothing, takes responsibility for their situation, and changes it.
We can disparage entire classes for any number of things. For instance, I could say, “Trump voters are gullible yokels who are more at home in the company of sheep than civil human society.” We can debate any word in that broad-brush-painted sentence.
But there’s one insult I would never levy at the Deplorables: they are apathetic.
They’re the polar opposite of apathetic. I think they’re misguided in their passion. But passion itself is not something they lack. They are passionate about immigration (obviously, thus I’m writing this post). They’re passionate about the Second Amendment. Jobs. Hillary Clinton. Locking Hillary Clinton up. Hillary Clinton’s emails, still, for some reason. Sheep.
To attempt to negate their passion is disingenuous. If you make that patently false assertion, it’s fair for listeners to assume you are uninformed on the matter writ large.
Likewise, if you assert that someone who travels thousands of miles for a chance to work multiple low-pay jobs in a foreign country is lazy, you’re either stupid or disingenuous. Or both.
But damn, you are certainly not apathetic about sheep, I’ll give you that.
6. They Are Gang Members, Criminals, And Terrorists.
Some of them are, sure. Just like some of you are in the KKK. And some of you are rapists and drug dealers. And some of you are, I assume, good people.
The vast majority of people obey the laws whenever they can. That isn’t restricted to American people, white people, or Christian people.
You have to understand that people who want you to be fearful of immigrants realize the facts are not supportive of their argument. Thus, they have to take a different tack to get you to do what they want.
The President has hired hundreds of immigrants, legally here and undocumented, for his real estate and frozen steak projects over the years. He’s married two immigrants, who’ve borne an assortment of terrible human beings for him (plus Barron, who is too young to categorize as a terrible human being…yet). He knows it’s a huge overstatement to paint immigrants as a class of criminals.
He knows human beings prefer anecdotal evidence over statistics. Anecdotes work better with our brains. It’s so obvious, it’s instinctive. It’s why we’re afraid of shark attacks and leprosy when statistics tell us those are illogical fears.
Statistics are much more accurate in informing correct analysis, but anecdotes change people’s minds. More to the point, anecdotes change people’s votes.
When the President shares a racist video showing footage of convicted murderer and undocumented immigrant Luis Bracamontes interspersed with pictures of the “caravan” in Central America, ask yourself why.
Why is a master salesman choosing anecdotes that support his notion? Is it because statistics aren’t kind to his assertion?
I’ll save you the click: that’s exactly why. And he’s counting on you to be too racist and stupid to call his bluff. Don’t play into his hand. Do your own research, especially if your bias is toward believing the negative narrative you’re being sold.
A lot of people are saying that if you are genuinely afraid of immigrants, it’s probably because you don’t actually know any. If you know them, you’ll know that they’re just like Americans: some are sh**ty, terrible human beings, just like some of us.
But most of them are hard-working men and women, determined to improve their own lot in life against all odds. They take personal responsibility for the situation into which they were born, and decide to grab their bootstraps and change it. They want their kids to have a better life than they have.
You know, just like us.
While I’m not concerned that the Fourteenth Amendment will be overturned—namely because the President never watched Schoolhouse Rock and has no idea how to do that–I’m terribly concerned that so many Americans swallow the President’s ugly, hateful sales pitches.
To quote Donald Trump from his book, Think Like A Champion:
“There’s an old German proverb to the effect that ‘fear makes the wolf bigger than he is,’ and that is true.”
When the old German is playing on your fear, know that his intent is to make the wolf bigger. He doesn’t want you to think. He wants you to fear. He wants you to abandon rational thought, listen to him, and just react.
That’s what he meant when he presciently wrote this:
“The worst things in history have happened when people stop thinking for themselves and listen to other people and, even worse, start following other people. That’s what gives rise to dictators.”
Previously published here and republished by permission from the author.
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