Liberals in the United States love to laud European ways as a cudgel against American conservative exceptionalism. But they don’t admire all European ways, Ezra Klein on Lindsey Graham’s possible floating of a constitutional amendment to repeal birthright citizenship:
How then to explain Graham’s announcement — on Fox News, no less — that he’s stepping into the immigration issue with a proposal that’s much more divisive, and much more dangerous? “I may introduce a constitutional amendment that changes the rules if you have a child here,” he said. “Birthright citizenship I think is a mistake. … We should change our Constitution and say if you come here illegally and you have a child, that child’s automatically not a citizen.”
Putting aside the cruelty of the position, which penalizes children for the sins of their parents, this is certainly “bringing up immigration.” And indeed, it’s trying to use birthright citizenship as a wedge issue against the Democrats. Worse, it centers the conversation on illegal immigration rather than the immigration system. That’s a much more toxic, and much less productive, conversation.
Many European states have restricted birthright citizenship within the last generation. It’s probably a corollary to a welfare state. I happen to agree with Will Wilkinson that birthright citizenship is probably a major impediment to any resolution of immigration flows where there has to be compromise, because the stakes are just too high for everyone involved.