Immigration should be a front-and-center issue

Opinion: Arlene Jones

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How are you feeling about the candidacy of Donald Trump? I have to admit that he was right in saying that without his presence in the race, the issue of illegal immigration wouldn't be at the forefront the way it currently is. 

I don't know how many black folks are listening to what he is saying (or are just following the headlines and not investigating further), but his message should be listened to and then judgments made.

I believe the Supreme Court or Congress does need to clarify the issue of birthright citizenship. The 14th Amendment starts off by stating, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States." There is a need to have clarification of the meaning of the "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" portion of the language.

As many people are well aware, the original intention of the 14th Amendment was to make sure the children of the former slaves wouldn't be excluded from citizenship. A seldom mentioned historical fact is that the 14th Amendment did not extend citizenship to Indians at the time. They were seen as not being subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. but rather held their allegiance to their tribes. It wasn't until 1924 when President Calvin Coolidge signed the Indian Citizenship Act that full citizenship was granted to Native Americans.

Thus there is precedence in regards to who this country can make citizens. The question that Trump is asking is if the framers of the 14th Amendment really meant to give citizenship to foreign nationals who come to this country to visit Disneyland, as an example, and end up having a baby and that baby is automatically given citizenship. I know in that context it sounds ludicrous. But the point is very valid in terms of granting citizenship to children whose parents owe allegiance to a different country.

I recently had the opportunity to sit in on a discussion about illegal immigration. As the speaker talked about all the "unaccompanied minors" who had been coming into this country, one young adult listener was near tears as she listened. She raised her hand and posed this question, "So are all the children in some sort of government home?" The response was truthful, albeit funny: "No the majority of them were released to their parents or other relatives." The young woman's bewildered look was priceless. That exchange was a classic highlighting of how those who are pro-illegal immigration have framed the context to make what has been happening appear one way until it is examined further and then it comes out another.

The silence of black leadership about illegal immigration has been interesting and, to a large degree, expected. When Obama put in effect his executive order, which allowed Dreamers (a play on and theft of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech) the chance to stay here, it opened the floodgates and enticed the parents of those thousands of young people to come to the southern border and turn themselves in. Many of the "children" were adults but in our current politically-correct climate, if a 50-year-old says he is 18, no one dares to question him.

Our country over the last 20 years has taken in millions of people who are not supposed to be here. Yet if we lament, we are quickly labeled "racist" although I feel that if 20 million Americans were to suddenly go into a country south of the border, we would be labeled as "American imperialists" and met with "Yankee Go Home" signs.

Over the next few months until the primaries are done, it is imperative for black folks to pay attention to all the candidates and what they are saying. Obama will be out of office on Jan. 20, 2017 and the direction we go from there will be determined by whoever takes over.

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