If All You Have Is a Hammer, Every Problem Looks Like a Nail

by Mark Krikorian

Anti-tax activist Grover Norquist last month promoted an advocacy group report claiming that a change to our current citizenship practices (which award citizenship to the U.S.-born children of tourists and illegal aliens) would be “a tax on every child being born.” This is both funny and wrong. Funny because not everything that’s bad is a tax; there are plenty of things that may not represent good public policy that can’t be meaningfully interpreted as a tax. But all Grover has is a hammer, so everything’s a nail.

But even on its own terms, his claim is incorrect, as my Center for Immigration Studies colleague Jon Feere points out in a new paper. The report Grover was flacking, by libertarian immigration enthusiast Margaret Stock, uses a phony cost estimate to come up with its claim of billions in added costs to taxpayers, and makes a variety of other dubious and even false claims in an effort to scare people away from considering a change in our citizenship rules. Now, I myself am ambivalent about changing our current birthright citizenship practices, but if this is all the defenders of the current interpretation of the 14th Amendment’s citizenship clause can come up with, they’re in trouble.

And while I think writing and research should be judged on its own merits, it’s not irrelevant that this report, from an ostensibly conservative group, was funded by the Carnegie Corporation, which is one of the top sources of support for the high-immigration left, working closely with Soros, Ford, Tides, and others. (Other recipients of Carnegie funding include ACORN, the ACLU, People for the American Way, La Raza, MALDEF . . . you get the drift.)

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