Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Keeping the White House White

FreeRepublic poster El Gato writes:
We're not talking about citizen at birth, but rather Natural Born Citizen, which remains what it was in the late 1780s when the Constitution was written and ratified. No meer [sic] law, which is what the US code is, can modify the meaning of a Constitution term.
Another relevant quote from El Gato is "Congress has no other power to confer citizenship, except via naturalization."

As one might expect, Gato is a Birther who subscribes to the standard Birther belief that natural-born citizenship requires birth to two citizen parents. (I disagree with this belief, but all that matters in this post is that El Gato holds this opinion, whether or not it's based in fact.)

These two beliefs taken together, however, create a rather unfortunate, and perhaps telling, consequence.

The Constitution did not establish any rules or guidelines regarding naturalization, instead stating in Article I, Section 8 that Congress shall have the power "To establish a uniform rule of naturalization." Pursuant to this authority, the United States' first law governing the granting of U.S. citizenship was the Naturalization Act of 1790. For the first time, the United States provided a means for persons other than those born on U.S. soil to become U.S. citizens. To quote from the Naturalization Act of 1790:
An Act to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization

Section 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That any alien, being a free white person, who shall have resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States for the term for two years, may be admitted to become a citizen thereof...
This same language, "any alien, being a free white person," was repeated and reiterated in the Naturalization Act of 1795.

Thus, during the decade following the passage of the Constitution, the time specified by "El Gato" as strictly defining the meaning of "natural born citizen," only immigrants with white skin could become naturalized U.S. citizens. Asian immigrants could not be naturalized citizens. African immigrants could not be naturalized citizens. Arab immigrants could not be naturalized citizens. Naturalization was an institution strictly limited to whites, and only whites.

It follows then that if non-white immigrants could not become naturalized citizens, then their native born children could never be born to two citizen parents. Such would be a legal impossibility. Thus, according to "El Gato," if "Natural Born Citizen...remains what it was in the late 1780s when the Constitution was written and ratified," and if he believes that the Founders intended natural-born citizenship to require two citizen parents, then he is categorically proposing that no child of a non-white immigrant is eligible to be President.

Children of white immigrants? Sure. That's fine. But children of non-white immigrants need not apply. According to El Gato, that is.

No comments:

Post a Comment