The Corner

Birthing Pain

I’m a bit of a softie on immigration, especially legal immigration. So Mark Krikorian doesn’t usually come to me for political advice. So here it is, unsolicited: Conservatives who seek genuine reforms to immigration policy are making a big mistake if they push to deny birthright citizenship to the children of illegal aliens. What could be more hopeless or less useful than starting a fight that is all but certain to end in defeat at the hands of a judge? There are honest disputes about what certain clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment really mean, but I wouldn’t spend a lot of political capital on the belief that they’ll resolve themselves in a way that cuts against longstanding practices. Immigration reformers would be much wiser to stick to more achievable objectives, such as defending Arizona against the assaults of the Obama administration. Anything else threatens to become a replay of California’s Prop. 187–an interesting and provocative idea offered by well-meaning Americans, but doomed to fail.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.


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