Deportation and citizenship: two stories

Two immigration stories in the news: The first, in the Star Tribune, is an encouraging note about a Supreme Court decision. The case was that of a young man who had lived in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident:

Carachuri-Rosendo, a legal resident who had lived in the United States since he was 5, was deported to his native Mexico after being convicted of possessing a single tablet of Xanax, an anti-anxiety drug, and serving a 10-day sentence. He had been convicted of possessing a small amount of marijuana a year earlier and received a 20-day sentence.

The Supreme Court ruled that he at least gets to make an argument before an immigration judge – that deportation should not be automatic.

The second story is a discouraging reminder of the hatred underlying the anti-immigrant legislation in Arizona. The latest Arizona proposal (not yet law) would deny citizenship to babies born in the United States, if their parents are not legal residents. That flies in the face of the constitution, of course. The 14th Amendment says: “All persons, born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”

The Arizona legislator, and the report, refer to these children as “anchor babies,” saying that they are “the legal weights that anchor many undocumented aliens in the U.S.” The Arizona legislator says he wants to make it more difficult for parents of the children to become citizens.

Let’s see – current law says that the children cannot file any kind of petition for parents to become legal residents until the citizen-child reaches the age of 21. Then most parents would have to live outside the United States for ten years before being allowed to re-enter. Then they would have to live as legal permanent residetns for five years before being allowed to file for citizenship. Best case scenario for most parents: 32 years to legal residence, 36 years to citizenship. Not difficult enough?

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