Let me say first that I don’t use the word “racist” lightly. I know it comes as a politically-loaded bomb, something deployed to most often end debate rather than encourage one, but there really is no other way to see this.
A group of California “fiscal conservatives” are working to get a proposition on the June 2010 ballot which would essentially deny citizenship rights and benefits to the children of “illegal” immigrants. The effort is meant to end what supporters call “birth tourism” and, in so doing, save the state a “billions” of dollars.
Named the “Taxpayer Protection Act,” the effort is nothing more than an attempt to deal with a real problem (immigration policy) by rationalizing it as something pretend (“birth tourism”).
I suspect there are people who believe the immigrant flow of the past 40 years has been largely (or even substantially, minimally, or otherwise) motivated by the desire to birth children in the U.S. These people are wrong. There is no research to prove it or even suggest it. There is ample research to suggest otherwise. Simply put, immigration is an economic phenomenon taking place in a political context. The most common motivation is the continuation of life.
I suspect there are people who believe this will save the state money. It won’t. While they are right in that there is not a lot of clarification at the federal level about “automatic citizenship,” that is only because there has never been any confusion about it in the modern era. Furthermore, it’s a clear violation of what a state can do regarding a federal question (citizenship). Anyone who wants to know what the courts thought about that can read the decisions related to Prop. 187. And that’s the rub. This will end up costing the state massive amounts of money and human time to adjudicate what we already know: it is illegal.
I also suspect there are people who don’t think this is racist. These people might not know about the long, historical pattern to criminalizing “brown” and “yellow” immigrants over white ones. They might not know of the equally long practie of fearing the womb of women of color. Both of these ideological histories translated into real and horrific experiences for people (mass deportations, death, forced sterilizations, etc.). Certainly, these people don’t know how their current diatribes are reflective of almost every facet of these histories, but they are.
This is a racist, illegal waste of time and money for the State of California. And you know what? I am also sure that some of the supporters know this. But they also know that fear and hate-mongering in this state can be effective. They also know (as the chronic Republican minority) that when those practices are unleashed on voter-initiated propositions the state has a tendency to swing the right in the governorship. And, finally, they know that even if this proposition fails, or passes but is thrown out by the courts, or doesn’t result in a Republican governor (or competitive nominee), THEY still may be successful. Racism, fear, and hate help mobilize people’s worst and saddest tendencies and, as the poster children for this fight, the authors and political supporters will look like people who actually care.
They don’t care about people. They don’t care about Constitutional laws. They do care about power.
For more information on the measure, see this article from the Modesto Bee.