Governor Walker on Who Should Be Considered an American

From Washington Post:

GOP presidential hopeful Scott Walker said Monday that children of illegal immigrants who are born in the United States should not automatically receive U.S. citizenship.

Then some clarification, kind of.

… When asked whether he believes any person born on U.S. soil should be considered a U.S. citizen, Walker responded: “Well, again, I think before we start talking about anything else beyond securing the border, enforcing the laws and having a legal immigration system that gives priority to American working families. Americans aren’t going to trust politicians that talk about other things until they feel confident that they’re going to do those things.”

I can imagine implementation of laws to determine who is or is not a legal resident will be conducted in an equally nondiscriminatory and equitable fashion, paying no heed to race, religion, and creed, under a Walker administration…but I can do so only under the influence of the proper hallucinogenic drugs, of course.

The Governor is not necessarily advocating deportation of said children of undocumented immigrants:

Hunt then asked Walker whether the U.S. should deport the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants, at which point Walker said: “I didn’t say that — I said you have to enforce the law, which to me is focusing on e-verify,” a system by which employers can check the citizenship status of potential employees.

Apparently, the children would be allowed to remain in the US, in a stateless and illegal status.

Update, 8/19 1PM Pacific: The irrepressible W.C. Varones who was worrying about hyperinflation before dollar debasement (still waitin’ for either) argues that citizenship on the basis of location of birth (essentially Jus Soli) is a minority approach in developed economies. In order to assess this assertion, I tallied population in OECD countries implementing unrestricted and restricted and mixed Jus Soli, and compared against total OECD population. The respective figures are 763.8 million population, out of OECD total 1274.7 million (60%).

Of course, this calculation is irrelevant to the main point of the post — whether one believes a Walker administration would tally up who is or is not a child of a “legitimate” US citizen, for assessing citizenship according to Jus Sanguinis (citizenship on the basis of parent’s or parents’ citizenship). It seems to me a literal interpretation would require one to track backwards in time to the founding of the Republic who was or was not a citizen at the time. In principle, if one’s parents were both “illegals”, or if one were descended from a long line of “illegals” perhaps broadly defined, one could be an “illegal” even if one’s parent, grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-great-grandparents were born in the US. This seems unlikely, but a narrowly defined interpretation of how citizenship is conferred by Jus Sanguinis would seem to allow this possibility.

Heck, if we went to this approach, we could determine citizenship on the basis of language/ethnicity. Perhaps this is the subtext of the assault on Jus Soli implicit in various Republican presidential candidates’ calls for an end of what they call “anchor babies” — it’s just the thin edge of a broader based approach of stripping citizenship from a larger group of perceived undesirables.

For reference to similar approaches in the past, see “Exclusion Laws”, which retroactively de facto eliminated some individual’s citizenship.

116 thoughts on “Governor Walker on Who Should Be Considered an American

  1. Zack T

    Most of the rest of the world doesn’t subscribe to the “Born in the country = a member of the country” laws. Outside of the Americas it’s practically unheard of: “Jus Soli”. Personal insults also seem base.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Zack T: Well, most of the developed countries do; I like to think the US is a developed country.

      In any case, it was not an insult to Governor Walker; it was a statement on what I could imagine iff I were under the influence of some hallucinogenic drugs. So it’s a statement on the limitations of my imagination. Don’t be so touchy!

      1. W.C. Varones


        “Well, most of the developed countries do”

        Care to back that up with facts?

        Your Madison liberal provincialism is showing; you really should get out more.

          1. W.C. Varones

            Please list the majority of OECD countries that give birthright citizenship to anchor babies of illegal aliens.

          2. Menzie Chinn Post author

            W.C. Varones: Geez, look up the wikipedia page, and do the correlation yourself of OECD and unrestricted and restricted Jus Soli. (And remember, Mexico is an OECD country!)

            You didn’t address my query regarding hyperinflation. I miss your not-prophetic references to “printmeister Ben Bernanke”.

  2. Massimo Heitor

    All nations and all groupings of people have always been discriminatory with respect to ethnicity and religion. That’s how humans organize themselves. Even civil rights icons like Mahatma Gandhi were very outspoken about supporting ethnic nation states and armed resistance to cross ethnic immigration.

    1. WC Varones


      Even your vaunted, supposedly authoritative “Wikipedia” directly contradicts your ignorant assertions.

      “Jus soli (Latin: right of the soil)[1] is the right of anyone born in the territory of a state to nationality or citizenship.[2] As an unconditional basis for citizenship, it is the predominant rule in the Americas, but is rare elsewhere.[3][4][5][6] Since the Twenty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland was enacted in 2004, no European country grants citizenship based on unconditional jus soli.”

      You may have noticed that, like the Sarah Palin episode, when you dive into complete partisan hackery, you obviously have absolutely no idea want you’re talking about. It might be better to stick to economics.

      1. Menzie Chinn Post author

        W.C. Varones: I repeatedly indicated unrestricted and restricted Jus Soli. I did not make mention of anchor babies in my post. Anchor babies was your term (and I was unsurprised by your use of the term).

        1. W.C. Varones


          No, your original assertions and attack on Walker made no such distinction.

          You made that up after it was pointed out how wrong you were.

          And, indeed, your attack on Walker makes no sense if you are making an exception for European-style “restricted” birthright citizenship for children only of legal residents; obviously Walker was not talking about ending citizenship for children of people who play by the rules.

          1. Menzie Chinn Post author

            W.C. Varones: See this comment. In my blogpost, I made no mention of Jus Soli relative to other countries. I merely commented on the manner in which I thought a Walker administration would determine who was or was not an “illegal immigrant”.

            You still haven’t responded to my query about that impending hyperinflation you mentioned. Or is that blogpost of your “no longer operational”?

          2. W.C. Varones


            Precisely as I said.

            Your response to Zach T “Well, most of the developed countries do; I like to think the US is a developed country” is flatly wrong, and you didn’t discover the distinction between restricted and unrestricted jus soli until after you made that statement, and your whole post attacking Walker makes no sense in light of your newly discovered “nuance” on global immigration reality; Walker’s policy would resemble your European worker’s paradise!

            As for your “hyperinflation” obsession, I’ve responded to that repeatedly on other posts and won’t belabor it here; suffice it to say that my blog history stands available for all to see and I think I’ve made some pretty good calls, and have consistently predicted Fed-sponsored asset inflation, but rarely mentioned hyperinflation over thousands of blog posts, and even explicitly disavowed it.

          3. Menzie Chinn Post author

            W.C. Varones: I don’t see how a distinction between Jus Soli unrestricted/restricted makes any difference to my assessment of a Walker Administration’s ability to make impartial judgments, separate from race, religion or creed, regarding who is or is not a US citizen, for purposes of determining which children are citizens. Help me please on this count.

          4. Menzie Chinn Post author

            W.C. Varones: So your new position is:

            I’m not calling for hyperinflation, just inevitable eventual debasement of the dollar. This could take the form of 70’s style stagflation, or Argentinian-style step devaluation, or slow and steady erosion of the dollar just like the Federal Reserve has done the last 100 years. The “political choice” is not hyperinflation, but inflation vs. depression.

            So, your previous predictions were lousy, and these are your new improved predictions? Just trying to figure out what has the dollar been doing over the past year? Inflation?

          5. W.C. Varones


            1) No, that’s not a new position. That post was from 2011, and referenced pro-gold and pro-equities calls from years prior.

            2) I recognize your desire to change the topic from your current ignorance of modern immigration laws, but appreciate your calling attention to my great call on owning equities and gold during a time of Fed asset inflation.

          6. Menzie Chinn Post author

            W.C. Varones: OECD countries for which Jus Soli restricted/unrestricted accounts for 763.8 million population, out of OECD total 1274.7 million (60%).

            Sorry, did you explain how the dollar’s ascent confirms your prediction of dollar debasement?

      2. sherparick

        And that is why Europe is having such a wonderful time with immigrants and that 2d and 3d generation children born in these countries are still not considered “citizens,” and live in pockets culturally and politically apart. A very similar to the experiment that we have conducted on the Black population in this country, whose citizenship status seems to be always questionable to Neo-Confederate Americans the last 150 years.

        The 14th Amendment was basically about repudiating the Dred Scott decision and “Republicans” are really arguing about reinstating that decision as the law of the land when they talk about repealing the 14th Amendment. And for those who “believe in original intent,” that we have to follow the Constitution as those who wrote it “originally meant it to mean,” then Roger Taney, the founder of the doctrine originalism that Antonin Scalia, Roberts, Alito, and Thomas (irony) follow, was right: the Founders original intent was that no slave or descendant of slaves could ever be considered a “citizen” of the United States. Given Scott Walker’s cultural and political goals, a process that would disenfranchise Black people and Hispanics at the same time, thereby securing permanent political power for a Republican Party that has become the White Nationalist Party, has to be considered a win win.

        As for the method in Donald Trump and Scott Walker’s rhetoric, look up Sean Trende and “missing northern white working class vote.” The strategy may be evil, but it may also work.

        By the way 14th Amendment also embodies the traditional, and exceptional, English common law doctrine on birthright citizenship. Sadly, the U.K, has turned its back on this heritage, since blaming immigrants and cultural/racist fears took hold in post-Imperial Britain. But it is one thing that has been truly exceptional about the United States. It was the glory of the Republican Party of the 1850s-70s, Lincoln’s and Thaddeus Stevens Party, the party of “Free Soil, Free Labor, and Free Men.” Nothing would please the NeoConfederates who have taken over that Republican Party then to replace their achievement with Alexander Hamilton Stephens’ “Cornerstone” view of America.

        On practical economic grounds, despite all the lies coming out from the anti-immigration grifters (google FAIR, Krikorian, and Taunton, etc. for the sinister background of these folks), it is simple arithmetic that if you want economic growth, you have to allow a substantial number of immigrants into the country. Immigrants, being usually withing the 18-54 age range are particularly productive people if you want consistent economic growth of 3% or more per year.

        In conclusion, immigration restriction and laws are almost always racist or tribal at root. They are saying to the stranger, “you are not a part of this community,” you are “an outlaw, second class.” That right-wing politicians in almost every other country indulge and fan this emotion is not a strong argument for the U.S. to adopt the same retrograde, racist, policies.

  3. Kirk

    Pretty sure all he said was before we even talk about changing the law we should secure the border so we can enforce our current immigration laws.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Kirk: Pretty sure he didn’t just say that. Read the article linked to:

      Do you think that birthright citizenship should be ended?”

      Walker, who is governor of Wisconsin, had been repeatedly asked that question earlier in the day, but this time he responded: “Well, like I said, Harry Reid said it’s not right for this country. I think that’s something we should — yeah, absolutely, going forward.” In the early 1990s, Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) introduced legislation that would have clarified the 14th Amendment of the Constitution and revoked birthright citizenship, a position that the Senate Democratic leader has since abandoned.

      Seems pretty conclusive, even if he kind of, sort of, maybe, perhaps, walked it back later on (not clear what he did, actually).

      See also Breitbart.

  4. Patrick R. Sullivan

    Prior to a footnote to a 1982 Supreme Court decision (Plyler v. Doe) no one thought that the 14th Amendment had anything to say about ‘anchor babies’. It was clearly designed to overturn Dred Scott, and was about the treatment of recently freed slaves. Then, mostly unnoticed by any legal scholars, William Brennan slipped in this language;

    ‘…no plausible distinction with respect to Fourteenth Amendment ‘jurisdiction’ can be drawn between resident aliens whose entry into the United States was lawful, and resident aliens whose entry was unlawful.’

    Pretty much without any logical reasoning whatever, as to why there was no difference between legal and illegal. So, if this is Scott Walker’s position–that Wm. Brennan was full of it–he’s on pretty firm ground.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Patrick R. Sullivan: Arguments about logic from someone who doesn’t acknowledge factual errors, eh? In point of fact, I am still waiting — nearly a year now — to hear you admit you were in error regarding depth of the downturn in Canada vs. US during the Great Depression. As you recall, you stated unequivocally:

      Canada … had a less severe depression than the USA.

      And this statement is wrong.

      1. Patrick R. Sullivan

        Well, some of us recognize the fallacy of ‘changing the subject’, when we see it. Especially when we see it over and over and over and over….

        1. Menzie Chinn Post author

          Patrick R. Sullivan: Just trying to keep you on topic, since you have consistently refused to answer the query.

          Hence, I am still waiting to hear you admit you were in error regarding depth of the downturn in Canada vs. US during the Great Depression. As you recall, you stated unequivocally:

          Canada … had a less severe depression than the USA.

          And this statement is wrong.

    2. jonathan

      Plyler v. Doe was about school funding for children who are here but aren’t citizens, who entered illegally. It has nothing to do with birthright citizenship. That is covered under the 14th Amendment: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” The only arguments have been about what “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” means – e.g., does it apply to the child of a foreign ambassador? Does it apply to jurisdictions like the Panama Canal Zone (where John McCain was born)? And Congress passes laws about the citizenship of children born overseas to US citizens (e.g,, Ted Cruz).

      But Plyler v. Doe is completely out of left field.

      1. Patrick R. Sullivan

        Could you point me to ANY jurisprudence in the years before Plyler, that indicated that the 14th Amendment had any relevance for the question of ‘anchor babies’?

  5. PeakTrader

    It seems, the goal is to allow the illegal immigrants to die off as illegal immigrants and absorb their children born here as legal citizens.

  6. Ricardo

    Current immigration law has been made absurd by a Progressive judiciary.

    The 14th amendment states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States…” Those Progressive jurists who wish to support their view that there should be “anchor” babies ignore the bold clause in the 14th amendment in relation to illegal immigrants, but are then caught in a logical dilemma because that would mean the children born to foreign diplomats or other foreign dignitaries and workers (in the UN or in an embassy) would be US citizens. Both Constitutional jurists and Progressive jurists recognize that the children of foreign diplomats are not subject to the jurisdiction of the US and so cannot be citizens.

    But this puts Progressive jurists into a position where rather that interpreting law they must create law and by so doing erode the rule of law replacing it with the rule of man. The Progressive jurist has to ignore the fact that a person who is not a citizen of the US is not subject to the jurisdiction of the US just as in the case of diplomats. It is clear that the 14th amendment was never intended to include immigrants who are not legal citizens. This was a “right” created by Progressive jurists.

    Because Progressive jurists often ignore the clear meaning of the law and replace it with political considerations, logically they have to replace the rule of law with the rule of man and, therefore, erode the bedrock of the US liberal, constitutional, democratic republic.

    1. Steven Kopits

      I think the 14th amendment is pretty clear: If you’re born here, you’re a citizen. It has been that way for a long time, and I doubt even a conservative court would over-throw the current interpretation, as that would leave many people in legal limbo.

      On the other hand, Zach’s statement is correct: “Outside of the Americas, [jus soli] is practically unheard of.” Only the US and Canada appear to have jus soli among the advanced economies. The more typical standard in, say, Europe is that one parent must be a citizen or legal permanent resident. In some countries, you can obtain citizenship via parentage. For example, I could become a citizen of Hungary, if I so chose, as my parents were born there, although neither was a Hungarian citizen when I was born.

      Walker’s proposed modifications would bring the US into line with European practice. However, given that jus soli is granted in the constitution, changing this would appear to require a constitutional amendment, and not merely a new law from Congress.

      1. Menzie Chinn Post author

        Steven Kopits: 60% of the OECD population is covered by Jus Soli restricted/unrestricted/mixed. Excluding the US, 46.4% of ex-US OECD population is covered by Jus Soli restricted/unrestricted/mixed. Hardly seems “unheard of” to me.

        1. Steven Kopits

          That’s a meaningless statement. How many advanced countries (excluding Mexico and Chile) provide jus soli to children born of parents of whom neither has at least permanent legal resident status?


          1. Menzie Chinn Post author

            Steven Kopits: Sorry, I don’t recall Governor Walker mentioning the parameters you did, i.e., at least one parent… I think he just said, let’s get rid of what we got now.

          2. Steven Kopits

            Let me quote back to you your own post:

            “GOP presidential hopeful Scott Walker said Monday that children of illegal immigrants who are born in the United States should not automatically receive U.S. citizenship.”

          3. Menzie Chinn Post author

            Steven Kopits: So, suppose one parent was “illegal” (Scott Walker’s language, not mine) and the other was not. Would that child be “illegal”? That’s not clear. And suppose that “legal” parent was legal by virtue of Jus Soli, which was no longer operative. Would that child be “legal” or “illegal”? It’s not clear. Or is the child legal if the parent is deemed legal at the time of the amendment?

            I think about this because retro-active application of Jus Sanguinis would have pretty big implications, if the criterion is applied thoroughly. I worry about selective application — and that was the main point of my comment in the blogpost, not “what do other countries do”. China has Jus Sanguinis, but I don’t think that’s what we (Americans) should do.

          4. Steven Kopits

            Generally, if you have one parent who is a citizen or legal resident, it is possible to obtain legal residency for the spouse. Now, I am not contending that it’s not a total pain, but it’s entirely feasible. I have friends who have had this experience, and I am sure you do as well.

            We have a process for immigrating into this country today, and it is not Jus Sanguinis. But it is lengthy and cumbersome. You are arguing that folks should be able to jump the queue without consequence. I think there is an entirely reasonable case against that point of view.

            Unrestricted jus solis creates adverse selection problems in a country with a welfare system (or good governance. for that matter). People will come here just to have children. (Actually, I have a couple of friends like that, too). There is a case that such a loophole should be closed.

            By the way, this is not my position. Having spent some time in a gray world of immigration myself, I have firm feelings about how I would like the system to work. You want to debate that–a sort of pay-to-play libertarian system–well, OK, let’s debate it. If you like, I am happy to write you a post (not like I am backed up with other analyses), and then you can take shots at me for a change.

          5. Menzie Chinn Post author

            Steven Kopits: Let me repeat — the main point of my post was whether a Walker Administration would with efficiency and equity determine who was and was not a child that was qualified to become a citizen, when one would have to verify whether the parents were legal or illegal, perhaps where the grandparents would have to verify whether they were legal, and/or the great-grandparents were legal, etc., etc. That would be the logical implication of changing to a Jus Sanguinis system (and one wanted to be fair). Somehow, I suspect a Walker administration would apply much greater scrutiny to individuals of certain ethnic groups than to others.

            The merits of Jus Soli vs. Jus Sanguinis was tangential (actually it wasn’t mentioned at all in the post).

      2. Ricardo


        The 14th amendment is very clear. Anyone not subject to the jurisdiction of the US cannot be a citizen. The 14th amendment was worded and was never intended to grant jus soli. And it is clearly not the case that every person born in the United States is automatically a citizen pursuant to the 14th amendment: U.S.-born children of foreign diplomats are not; nor are the U.S.-born children of American Indians (they were granted citizenship by an act of Congress in 1924). Given that it is not true that every person born in the United States is an American citizen under the Constitution, how difficult can it be to read the Constitution to not require something it does not require?

        Precedent is found in:

        The Civil Rights Act of 1866, “…”…all persons born in the United States, and not subject to any foreign power…”

        The adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution on July 9, 1868, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof…”

        The Expatriation Act of July 27, 1868 is considered by Dr. Edward J. Erler of California State University, San Bernardino, and Dr. Brook Thomas of the University of California at Irvine, as arguing that this Act was an explicit rejection of birth-right citizenship as the ground for American citizenship.

        An 1873 opinion of the Attorney General of the United States, “”The word ‘jurisdiction’ must be understood to mean absolute and complete jurisdiction, such as the United States had over its citizens before the adoption of this amendment. Aliens, among whom are persons born here and naturalized abroad, dwelling or being in this country, are subject to the jurisdiction of the United States only to a limited extent. Political and military rights and duties do not pertain to them.”

        From the 1973 The Slaughter-House Cases Supreme Court opinion, “… subject to its jurisdiction…” was intended to exclude from its operation children of ministers, consuls, and citizens or subjects of foreign States born within the United States”.

        In 1884 in Elk v. Wilkins the Supreme Court decision affirmed Indian children were “no more ‘born in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,’ within the meaning of the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment, than the children of subjects of any foreign government born within the domain of that government, or the children born within the United States of ambassadors or other public ministers of foreign nations.”

        Only in 1896 in United States v. Wong Kim Ark did the Progressive Supreme Court reverse decades of precedent by finding that children born to parents who, at the time of birth, are subjects of a foreign power are considered citizens.

        Steven, this was a clear case of legislation from the bench not judicial interpretation.

      3. Ricardo


        You might also find the following interesting.

        You may not be aware that the mere birth of a child in North America does not guarantee the child nor their parents the right to live in the United States or Canada, at least not until the child reaches the age of majority. Put another way, the family can be and often is removed from the U.S. or Canada, even if they have a native born child, because they do not have lawful status in the country. Some time in the future, once the child becomes an adult, they will be able to return to the U.S. or Canada, but that is down the road. It does not prevent deportation now.

        Once a citizen child reaches 21 in the case of the United States and 18 in the case of Canada, that child can return to North America and eventually sponsor their parents to legally immigrate to the country of citizenship. As for education in the meantime, unless the child can show legal guardianship or custody by a U.S. or Canadian citizen that would give them permission to reside in North America, they will not be able to study here, either.

        Andy J. Semotiuk, U.S. and Canadian immigration lawyer with offices in Toronto and New York.

  7. Robert Hurley

    I am 75 and I never thought I would live to see the rise of the “No Nothing” Party in my life time. My grandparents,who were immigrants, lived through that time. Im sorry but these are not the values that make us great! I am privileged to volunteer through my parish in an immigrant community. These children should be welcomed not hated.

    1. Steven Kopits

      I believe it is the “Know-Nothing” Party.

      At question is not whether children are nice or bad, but whether they should have legal status to remain in the country if their parents lacked such status. I would point out that I am an immigrant. It took my family about seven years to obtain the right of residency, and I obtained my citizenship 14 years after coming to this country.

      Are you of the view that anyone should be able to come to the US and obtain the rights of citizenship without condition?

      1. Robert Hurley

        Steven – Thanks for the correction – to your other point – we face two questions – first we have 11 millon undocumented immigrants the vast majority of who are productive members of society. Their children have the potential to contribute even more. It would be a waste to do anything else than offer them a pathway to citizenship. Going forward we should have a more rational immigration policy that matches our needs- then we have the problem of people fleeing appalling economic circumstances and violence. What do we do about those people? Can we have a rational discussion? From the chatter here it does not seem likely. How much of such chatted is due to racism and fear of people different from us I am not sure, but I think it plays an important part. My grandparents cam here in the 1880s fleeing poverty and seeking opportunity. They were poor but saw their children achieve success. They and many like them enriched our society. Are the current immigrants any different?

    2. PeakTrader

      You mean illegal immigrant community. You should know at your age people should follow laws, regardless whether they like them or not.

      How many more poor people do you want? I suspect, at least a billion want to live here. Can you handle that? And, how can anyone hate a poor suffering person?

      There are billions of dirt poor people. Doing a good job helping one of them your way can be a huge burden. Changing government policies or family values may be a better way.

      1. Robert Hurley

        So Peak, I wonder what you would do faced with the choice these immigrants face. I find the total lack of understanding and empathy appalling . Try imagining walking in their shoes – I hope that faced with similar circumstances I would have the courage to break the law to better my family

        1. PeakTrader

          Robert, I’m not surprised by your ignorance, including about understanding and empathy.

          Breaking the law is not a good solution.

          I think, you’d have the “courage” to do whatever it takes to better your family.

          And, understanding and empathy towards others can be justifiably dismissed.

          If you want to spend all day helping poor people, you got your work cut out for you.

          There are billions of them. Doing a good job helping one can be a lot of work.

          1. Robert Hurley

            As I said Peak, before you condemn these people try to imagine walking in their shoes. when faced with appalling consequences, you seem to say, immigration laws are more important than human lives /. Please correct me if I am wrong

          2. PeakTrader

            Robert, what I’ve been saying is American lives are more important than foreigner’s lives and U.S. immigration laws are to protect American lives.

            You seem to believe it’s one-size-fits-all or the same size shoe. All you know is the illegal immigrants are poor and need help – you don’t know much or anything beyond that.

            I guess, you wouldn’t mind flooding the country with a billion poor people and living in a country like the one they came from. You need more understanding beyond empathy, which I feel too, but there’s only so much I can do.

          3. Robert Hurley

            Peak you are very good at setting up straw men – billions of illegal immigrants! I am talking about people already here who are contributing to the economy. I am not sure how you know what I know. I work with many immigrants; so I listen to what they say. The ones I work with come from poverty and have made a better life for themselves . However, many undocumented immigrants are people who
            have come here legally and overstayed their visas. As to your empathy I have to wonder if it sympathy rather than empathy since you don’t seem to believe in any steps that might offer a path to citizenship hiding behind “there is only so much I can do”. I’m sorry what does it take to come up
            With an effective humane solution?

          4. PeakTrader

            Robert, I didn’t set up any straw men.

            You’ve been setting up straw men, like immigrants rather than illegal immigrants, they’re people overstaying their visas, you know lots of immigrants, and yet, know them well, what they’ll do, etc..

            Do you ever wonder why there are so many illegal immigrants in the U.S.?

            You may feel good helping a tiny fraction of the world’s poor a little, but what about the rest?

            You don’t need to give away citizenship to prove empathy.

            Is there an “effective humane solution” for billions of poor people, or do you just want to give citizenship to illegal immigrants in this country, or the ones you see?

            A secure border requires a tough stance on illegal immigration, to deter illegal immigration.

            And, I’m not “hiding” actually helping poor people with my time, money, and effort and saying I can only do so much.

            You want to pass on the problems to other people, because they overwhelm you.

            You want others to take in tens of millions of poor illegal immigrants and their children, with many more to follow, while ignoring the other 99.99…% of poor people.

          5. Robert Hurley

            Peak, you hold on to strawmen like a drowning person hangs on to a life preserver. I wonder if it is because of the poverty of your argument. No one is proposing we invite every poor person to come to the USA. If you look at the people fleeing to Europe, you have to ask why now to look at why people emigrate. It is usually due to two factors – life in their current country is unsustainable and there is a need for people (jobs) in another country. If there were little opportunity here immigration declines. Your premise is that undocumented immigrants are a complete burden. While I’m not denying there are cost, That is not my experience and over all I see them as being productive and a plus for GDP growth. So I am not certain what else you can call your billions but a strawman. And no one I’d proposing to give away citizenship but you. Try listening to points of an an argument rather than putting words into someone”s mouth. Another false dichotomy you use is having a pathwsy to citizenship
            And a more rational immigration policy going forward means we have to ignore the poor we already have – Nonsense /. That is just another strawman

          6. PeakTrader

            Robert, you incorrectly accuse me of creating straw men and then create more of them.

            I never implied “undocumented immigrants are a complete burden.”

            “And a more rational immigration policy going forward means we have to ignore the poor we already have” is another of your straw men.

            There’s no “poverty” of my argument. You just don’t understand them.

            If you just want to help the poor, which I do, why are we having this conversation?

  8. 2slugbaits

    Robert Hurley While I agree with the general thrust of what you’re saying, it was actually the “Know Nothing” movement in the 1850s. The “Know Nothing” movement was a nativist, anti-Catholic, anti-Irish movement. The term “Know Nothing” comes from their predictable response to any question about their position…they pretended to play SGT Schultz…”I know nussing….I know nussing.” A number of historians trace the nativist sentiments of the “Know Nothing” movement to the economic malaise that gripped the country in the wake of the panic of 1837. A lot of similarities to the far right’s response to the Great Recession. OTOH, there is some similarities between yesteryear’s “Know Nothing” movement and today’s “No Nothing” approach to passing any of Obama’s policies…they say “No” even if they agree with what he proposes.

    At the time this clause of the 14th Amendment was being debated, there was a serious question as to whether or not it applied to native Americans. It was tricky because the US government was making treaties with the Indian nations even though those nations were on US territory. So it wasn’t obvious that they were citizens even though they were born on American soil. But if you have a treaty with another nation, then can the peoples of that nation also be US citizens. But it’s pretty much of a moot issue today.

    It’s incredible how all of these closet racists and nativists that make up the far right nutjob wing of the GOP can simultaneously talk about 4% or even 6% growth while at the same time talk about mass deportations and severely restricting immigration.

    1. PeakTrader

      You need to get over your hang-ups with race. Maybe, voting for Ben Carson will do it 🙂

    2. Steven Kopits

      Interestingly, I had a little debate over just this issue with John Cochrane over on his blog. He suggested that 4% GDP growth was possible. I suggested that implied immigration on the order of 4-5 persons million per year. My numbers suggest that legal and illegal immigration to the US in 2015 should be running around 1 million persons. So 4% growth implies 4-5x the immigration we’ve seen recently. You think the US could handle 40 million immigrants in a decade? I have my doubts.

      I don’t think he was too happy with that comment, but in any event, to your point, Slugs, if you want robust GDP growth, pretty much you need a high level of immigration.

      1. Ricardo

        Steven Kopits wrote:

        “…if you want robust GDP growth, pretty much you need a high level of immigration.”

        Actually, if you want robust GDP growth crank up federal spending. China did it with ghost cities. Woodrow Wilson (and most Democrats BTW) did it by entering WWI. As Krugman has pointed out the best way to generate GDP is to start a war even if it is with Martians.

        1. Steven Kopits

          Oh come now.

          And I do see your points on immigration. But it’s in the 14th amendment, and there is long established practice. So arguments are fine, but if you want to change practice, you will need a constitutional amendment, best I can tell.

          Immigration is not a threat. Immigration of undesirable people is a threat. You can use incentives (that word again!) to draw the people you want to your country. To me, those are people who work hard, support themselves, and obey the law. If you can meet those criteria, welcome aboard. If you cannot, I want it to be easy to go home, for a while or permanently. I could tell you some heartbreaking and equally stupid stories about immigration policy. We are causing unnecessary suffering and we should stop it.

  9. Rick Stryker


    I don’t understand your point at all.

    Walker said he agreed with Harry Reid on “birthright citizenship.” And from that statement, you jump to the unsubstantiated allegation that a Walker Administration is going to be investigating people in a discriminatory way to ascertain the citizenship of children. What evidence do you have for such a statement, other than your obsessive animosity for Walker?

    Maybe a focus on the facts will help. What did Harry Reid do that Walker endorsed? Reid introduced the Immigration Stabilization Act of 1993 and Title X of that act clarified citizenship under the 14th amendment. Everyone who wants to modify the prevailing legal understanding of citizenship under the 14th Amendment has one play-the jurisdiction clause-and that’s the play that Reid attempted. The 14th amendment says that a person is a citizen of the of the US if he was born in the country and if he is subject to the jurisdiction of the US. The jurisdiction clause’s meaning is unclear and so Reid’s bill said that if you are born in the US but your mother is neither a citizen nor a legal permanent resident but is rather a citizen of a foreign country in which one her parents is a citizen, or if the mother is entitled to citizenship in that foreign country, then the child is not under the jurisdiction of the US at the time of birth but rather under the jurisdiction of the foreign country. In that case, the 14th amendment doesn’t apply, and you are not a citizen merely by being born in the US.

    Of course, that law would have been challenged if it had been enacted and I doubt the Supreme Court would go along with it. But that’s what Reid proposed and what Walker was endorsing.

    What does it mean practically if Reid’s law were passed and it survived Court scrutiny? It means that possession of a US birth certificate is no longer enough to establish citizenship. Bruce Lee was a US citizen because his parents, both from Hong Kong, were travelling with an opera in the US and Lee was born in San Francisco. Years later, he had to show up from Hong Kong with his birth certificate to claim his citizenship. His parents’ status didn’t matter. Under the Reid/Walker bill, Lee could not have done that. He’d also have to produce documentary evidence that his mother was a US citizen or a pemanent legal resident at the time of his birth before he could claim US citizenship.

    What is this Walker Administration discrimination that you are talking about? How would it happen? Right now, if you go to the DMV, they will not give you a license unless you produce several forms of documentation–passport, birth certificate, etc. Similarly, if the Reid-Walker bill were law, you could not get a US passport without producing some documentation that your mother also has a passport, a birth certificate, etc, just like people do at the DMV now.

    Are you saying that if Walker is President, the DMV’s will start a subtle campaign of discrimination? Will Walker have the INS raid suspect apartments demanding birth certificates? Is that what you are saying?

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Rick Stryker: Suggest you read the difficulties in implementation of ending birthright citizenship, here. Betcha, somehow, in implementation, appearances/accent etc. will somehow bias scrutiny. But maybe I’m wrong — we are after all in a post-racial society.

  10. Descended from immigrant scum

    So, will illegal immigrant status extend down the generations to infinity and beyond?

      1. Steven Kopits

        It is exactly this attitude which caused your error in this post. Ready, fire, aim. If you had gotten the sequence right, Zach wouldn’t have nailed you right out of the gate.

        1. Menzie Chinn Post author

          Steven Kopits: What error? Zack T (Zack with a “k”, not “h”) wrote about most of the countries of the world, and numerically he is right (lots of Luxembourgs and Mongolias in the world). I wrote: OECD countries for which Jus Soli restricted/unrestricted accounts for 763.8 million population, out of OECD total 1274.7 million (60%). Excluding the US, 46.4% of ex-US OECD population is covered by Jus Soli restricted/unrestricted/mixed. You think these facts irrelevant, I do not.

          Now, what is wrong in the comment you’re responding to? Is it the logic? If A and B, both undocumented, procreate and C results, and C and D (another undocumented) procreate and E results, and E and F procreate, and G results, and then G and H procreate, and I results, would we not then have 4 generations of undocumented (this sequence requires both parents to be legal residents; I think some frameworks would only require the mother to be a legal resident. The same sequence could still occur. Please indicate the specific error in logic.

          1. Steven Kopits

            What’s wrong with it is that Walker explicitly said “the children of illegal immigrants”, not “children with one or more illegal parents”. So the metric is unrestricted jus soli. And that’s limited to the US and Canada and is essentially unheard of outside the Americas, as Zack-with-a-k said.

            You know, you ought to get a few hedge funds as clients doing some macro consulting. It’s quite lucrative, and humbling. By my calculation, oil prices are a solid $30 / barrel below marginal cost, and the markets just don’t care. So if you’re using a fundamentals model, you’re screwed. So what model should we use instead? Interesting question. It would make a good blog post. And it will.

          2. Menzie Chinn Post author

            Steven Kopits: Actually, Zack T wrote: “Most of the rest of the world doesn’t subscribe to the “Born in the country = a member of the country” laws.” And he then referenced Jus Soli. I used the Wikipedia page, looked up countries that used “Jus Soli” variants as the basis for my calculation. You take what you want.

            By the way, this is all tangential to the main point of the post — and that is the manner in which a Walker Administration would determine who is or is not an American, under either approach. Just remember this Tea Partier’s views.

  11. Barkley Rosser

    For the record, the official name of the Know Nothing Party was the “American Party,” how surprising.

    I think that this is what Lester Maddox called his party that ran him for president in 1976, and I think they were around for a couple of other runs, although he may have been their most prominent candidate. Curiously, his running mate was Bill Dyke, who had served as Mayor of Madison, WI until he was defeated by Paul Soglin in 1973, who is currently in his 8th term as mayor, although this is now his third discontinuous segment as mayor. Back then he was a former student radical defeating a man who had run on keeping all the radical student protestors in their places, whereas today he is pretty much the voice of the local business establishment.

  12. JBH

    America is a tribe. One of untold numbers that have populated the earth. The original tribal members fled their homelands for a colonial land where they would be free to practice their diverse religions without interference. In 1776, they successfully freed themselves from the mother country establishing their own sovereign nation. The document that laid out the conditions under which they would rule themselves has been universally acclaimed as the most advanced in the history of civilization. It has never been improved upon. It has however been modified in proper manner as evolving conditions warranted. But also all too often watered down in improper manner by the judiciary charged with interpreting it who instead usurp original intent and legislate from the bench.

    This document is the law of the land. It insures personal liberty for all citizens – all members of the tribe. All who live in America implicitly agree to abide by this law. The rule of law is the foundation of personal liberty which ramifies into all spheres not just religious. Notably, the overarching theme was to protect the otherwise helpless individual from the magnitudes-greater power of the state. That is, protection against tyranny. Tyranny is by far the greatest of evils. Those in office who allow any form of subversion of the law are themselves petty tyrants. Those not in office who support this subversion are tyrants at arm’s length.

    When the law is diluted from its original intent, or from its properly legislated duly voted upon amended form, a dynamic arises which loosens the benign bond of individuals to the law. Each loosening, or deliberately turning a blind eye to the original law or its legitimately legislated amended form, descends society downward toward chaos. The early stage of chaos is now visible in America. These are its evil roots. They have been nourished by the dark force of political correctness which descended upon the land this past half century. It is not yet consciously comprehended by most, but is nonetheless empirically so and viscerally felt, that the political correctness emanating from Hollywood, the media, and academia is a stifling force which encourages corruption and flaunting of the law by otherwise law-abiding citizens. Suppressing free speech via political correctness is the quintessential opposite of the law of the land. It floats in the ethereal space of culture never having been voted on. Yet it is silently and unmistakably ripping this great nation apart from sea to sea. Its handmaidens are deception and propaganda. PC directly attacks free markets and to no small degree is responsible for driving the economy into its box canyon of slow growth. What can the common man do when representatives of both political parties are to one degree or another corrupted, and the public is muzzled in their everyday workspace from speaking out against the deception and propaganda they do see? To whom does one turn for remedy from coercion? Speak up and you will be shouted down — or worse. Thus the silence.

    The frustration of silent long-suffering Americans has risen to a pitch now palpable. It is greater than that of the Vietnam era. Tension akin to though not yet of the degree of that of the War between the States. The very underpinnings of the good life in America and the common man’s standard of living are being eroded. And people know it. For all this a sleeping giant is awakening looking for someone – anyone – to lead them out of the quagmire they sense this nation is in. Illegal immigrants are but one face that marks the descent and is precipitating the awakening.

    1. Steven Kopits

      America’s not a tribe. That’s the whole point. That’s why all these people of different religions and ethnicities can live together with no violence. It’s almost incredible, viewed from, say, a European perspective.

      In America, it’s still mostly what you do, not who you are. (Being a Bush or Clinton does confer its advantages.) That’s a liberal society. It’s about the principal, ie, can you make me money? In a tribal society, it’s about the agent, ie, the relationship of the individual to the group. ie, are you loyal to me? Issues of tribe / loyalty split the world into ‘us’ and ‘them’, and this split is the source of violence.

  13. baffling

    … When asked whether he believes any person born on U.S. soil should be considered a U.S. citizen, Walker responded: “Well, again, I think before we start talking about anything else beyond securing the border, enforcing the laws and having a legal immigration system…”

    interesting, at least the way it is reported, that walker gives priority to denial of citizenship over the protection of citizenship.

  14. Barkley Rosser


    Looking at the link on jus solis, it looks like unrestricted birth citizenship is nearly universal in the Western Hemisphere, with Colombia the largest exception, and some also scattered around the Carribean. Of those, Mexico and Chile are also OECD members along with US and Canada. It is much rarer in the rest of the world.

    So, those wanting to restrict it want the US to become part of the Old World.

    1. Steven Kopits

      That’s one way to look at it. Restricted jus solis reflects the maturing of an economy, and in many ways, that’s true.

      There is a socially conservative read on this as well. And that’s the well-founded fear that immigrants may damage US exceptionalism. Democracy works well in those countries where the median voter believes government is about providing services, not redistributing income. In those countries where the median voter believes democracy is about redistributing wealth, both governance and growth have lagged. In this latter group belong Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal…well, you get my drift. The last presidential election, as I recall, hinged on one county in Florida, Philadelphia, and a lack of white males voters in Ohio. So, as I recall, the Hispanic vote in Florida, the black vote in Philadelphia, and white union voters staying home in Ohio cost the Republicans the election. Immigration absolutely has the potential to upset national politics and make it look more like Latin America–just as southern Italians made New Jersey adopt a good bit of the political culture of Sicily for nearly a century, and Wisconsin and Minnesota remain defined by their northern European heritage.

      I have lived in Latin America–I was born in Argentina–and I cannot have a conversation with our Argentine friends and relatives without literally becoming angry. To them, politics is about theft, being stolen from and stealing from others. It is this attitude which explains why Argentine GDP is a fraction of that of Australia. I don’t want to import it to the US, thanks. And the Mexicans can keep their corruption at home, too.

      However, I would note this attitude is not anti-immigrant. It’s anti-egalitarian.

      To me, there are two–and only two–conditions for working and living in the US.

      1. You have to support yourself or your family.
      2. Obey the law.

      That’s it. The rest is pay to play:

      – $500 one-time background check
      – $1500 for annual work permit
      – $1500 annual acute health care insurance
      – 10% flat income tax, no deductions
      – no FICA, no unemployment, none of it, and the worker is not eligible for related services either
      – you can come and go as you please, get a drivers license, bank account, buy property, etc. (does not lapse if permit does)
      – if you’re convicted of a crime, you lose your permit for a fixed period of time (5-10 years)
      – you can apply for citizenship after a fixed number of years
      – you do all this online or at your local mall; no visit to the embassy or consulate

      So, in this approach, we separate status from citizenship. Immigrants don’t need citizenship. They need status. For the illegals already in the country, it gives them status overnight. They would have a right to live and work here immediately. They just can’t vote or receive benefits from the federal government.

      So if I’m a Republican, I make the terms of status more attractive than the terms for citizenship. I allow foreigners to be here if they so choose, but I give them a big incentive not to vote or be a burden on the system. And I put the welfare state right on its heels, just as a bonus.

    2. Steven Kopits

      By the way, Barkley, Tyler Cowen made, to my mind, an important point regarding immigration. He writes:

      “…truly, fully open borders probably would, due to backlash, result in a lower level of immigration than the pro-immigration, immigration-increasing, low-skilled immigration increasing policies I favor. But the idea of maximizing subject to a backlash constraint is unpopular in libertarian circles, let me tell you, including at GMU lunch table. Nonetheless we are learning, I am sorry to say, that the backlash constraint is more binding than many of us had thought.”

      Cowen is making a socially conservative point: that societies have ‘speed limits’ on their ability to absorb change. I saw this first–hand in Hungary and other eastern European countries in the post-socialist days, where citizens showed resistance to change beyond a certain point, even to reforms which were unquestionably positive overall. A classical liberal is essentially risk-neutral in attitude. If the expected outcome is positive, he’ll take the chance. Not so the social conservative. The conservative is more worried about loss than gain; change is unwelcome because it implies both effort and risk. There is significant risk aversion.

      This also features into the immigration debate. I’d be curious for your views.

      1. Barkley Rosser


        I know, like, and respect Tyler, but I am not in his department, and I was only a libertarian when I was much younger than I am now, although I retain a sort of default classical liberalism.

        As it is, I do not disagree substantially with Tyler on this matter. I think there is a difference between attitudes in Germany and the Old World in general than in the US and the New World in general, reflecting their very different histories. The New World is just generally much more open to immigration and making it relatively easy to become a citizen. I generally side with the New World position on this, although I do not support completely open borders.

        To respond to some others, I have no problem with birth tourism. In gneral I think that more immigration into the US is preferred to less, up to some point that I am not sure what it is, which is why I am not for completely open bordeers. And immigration is falling. All this hysteria about Mexico is just a joke, given that since the Great Recession hit ,net immigration from Mexico has been around zero. That whole Mexican immigration wave stuff is so yesterday; it is over.

        As it is, while US citizans, msotly poorer, working in certain selected sectors get hurt by it, it improves the economic well-being of the vast majority of our citizens. Cities with lots of immigrants are doing well economically, and also immigrants have lower crime rates than those already here, even the illegal ones, even taking into account their lawbreaking due to their illegal entry. This whole thing is just racist hysteria completely out of touch with reality.

        So, that is my view.

        As for Walker, I am glad to see that he is falling in the polls in Iowa, down to fourth place in the latest, and all his pandering to the Trumpists will not save him, so we shall amost certainly not have to suffer through having him in the White House. He has already done enough damage in Wisconsin, but people there seem to have tired of him as well, and his unpopularity is now very high. Heck, Jeb Bush does better against Hillary in WI than he does, with neither of them ahead of her. Like the Mexican immigration wave, it incrasinly looks like Walker is just so yesterday.

        1. Steven Kopits

          If you agree with birth tourism, then you would by default also agree with selling citizenship, no? These are tantamount, I believe.

          As for illegal immigration, it will be a function of the economy. Given the strength of the labor market here, I would assume illegal immigration has already begun to reaccelerate.

          1. Barkley Rosser

            But, Steven, it simply is not going to go back to where it was. A good deal of that is simple demography: the birth rate in Mexico has simply fallen sharply and it wll not reaccelerate, and the rates in the poorer nations to its south in Central America are also seeing falling birth rates, with some of them more responsible net migrants into the US than Mexico.

            In general, this issue really is so over. We could probably do with more migration of all sorts than what we are going to get. OTOH, I have no idea what the ideal level of immigration, and also clearly its composition is important, but I do not have all the answers on this stuff. I’ll leave that to others here, :-).

  15. Rick Stryker


    Steven Kopits is making a simple point that seems to me right. Zack T said:

    Most of the rest of the world doesn’t subscribe to the “Born in the country = a member of the country” laws. Outside of the Americas it’s practically unheard of: “Jus Soli”. Since he said “outside of the Americas” and then linked to a wikipedia article that says “As an unconditional basis for citizenship, it is the predominant rule in the Americas, but is rare elsewhere,” Zack was clearly referring to unrestricted jus soli in his comment. It thus makes no sense for you to respond to his point with a calculation that mixes unrestricted and restricted jus soli.

    But you responded that way for a reason. You mixed together unrestricted and restricted jus soli to imply that Walker was proposing to eliminate jus soli, which is actually in common use in the developed world in some form or another. But here, you demonstrated that you don’t understand what Walker is actually advocating. As my previous comment made clear, Walker is actually advocating a move from unrestricted to restricted jus soli, just like in some other advanced countries. He’s not advocating getting rid of jus soli altogether.

    Given that other advanced countries have managed to have implemented restricted just soli without the efficiency and discrimination problems you are implying will occur under a Walker Administration, why would the process go awry under Walker?

    Also: do you oppose the elimination of unrestricted jus soli?

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Rick Stryker: When only people protesting Walker’s measures and/or just singing in the rotunda get arrested by the Capitol Police (with almost all cases dismissed subsequently, but the arrests continued), and a 71 year old’s being handcuffed resulting in injury, and the governor outright states he was not a subject of a criminal investigation, despite the fact he was (could’a called his high priced lawyers I venture), excuse me if I’m just a little wary.

      These are emblematic of a attitude, such as when Governor Walker’s office said the office had nothing to do with getting rid of the Wisconsin Idea (lie) and the elimination of open records (also a lie).

      1. Rick Stryker


        I see what you mean. That sort of thing would never happen in the U.S. Capitol in Washington if people started protesting in large numbers without a permit.

        It’s true, Walker should never be trusted to enforce the immigration laws fairly. How can you trust an Administration that allows conservative prosecutors to send swat teams in to harass and intimidate progressives in their homes, in the middle of the night, and in front of their children, forbidding them to tell anyone what happened under John Doe laws? How can you trust an Administration that used the IRS to audit only progressive groups to limit their influence in Walker’s re-election effort? And how can you trust a governor who was so obsessed with secrecy that he flouted government rules and installed a private email server in the governors mansion to conduct official business? And then when asked to produce official emails, how can you trust a governor whose team decided what emails were relevant to produce and then wiped the server clean? And look at the way Walker keeps changing his story on the emails.

        Not to mention his use of the Walker Foundation, in which entities that had business before the Wisconsin government donated large sums. Did you see the whopping speech fees the Governor’s wife got? It’s amazing. I guess I wouldn’t trust Walker either.

    2. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Rick Stryker: Not to mention the funds funneled to Walker contributors via the widely acknowledged canonical crony central that is WEDC. I’ll let you google that for the full enormity of that story. You’ll note that Governor Walker is relatively reticent on emails, given the various convictions of individuals from his office circumventing official records laws (on the books still, until the Governor and his allies in the legislature can revoke them) by setting up a parallel system.

      1. Rick Stryker


        Doing favors for political donors is unfortunately standard practice of all Democratic and Republican politicians. The Donald is exploiting people’s revulsion for this politics as usual. But that’s not what we are talking about. We are talking about personal enrichment on a breathtaking scale. According to the Boston Globe, Walker has a negative net worth: -75K. If you want to understand the difference, I recommend a close reading of this book.

        The few Walker supporters working in government who used private email on the job to campaign for Walker and were prosecuted for it is a very different situation from the candidate himself doing it. Walker didn’t use a private email server. If you think Walker’s supporters should have been prosecuted, then surely you believe that if a candidate conducted official business on a private email server, that candidate should be disqualified, right? Especially if that private email server contained information that was classified at the time or would be subsequently classified, then an investigation and possible indictment should be forthcoming, right? Especially if upon lawful request for that email, the candidate unilaterally decided what was relevant, provided only that in hard copy, and then wiped the server, that would be worthy of disqualification, right? That candidate wants to be unaccountable to the people and we can’t have that in our leaders. You believe that, right?

        Surely if you don’t trust Walker, you could never vote for a candidate who did all these things, right?

        1. Menzie Chinn Post author

          Rick Stryker: See Scott Walker, Crony Capitalist:

          Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker tends to be tightfisted with taxpayer money, unless that cash is lining the pockets of one of his political donors.
          Over and over during his presidential campaign, Walker has declared that, as president, he’d stand up to “special interests.” But by signing legislation a few weeks ago committing $250 million in public funds—which, once interest is included, balloons to more than $400 million—to the construction of a new stadium for the Milwaukee Bucks, Walker has made it clear, once again, that he’s willing to use taxpayer money in ways that help his political allies, like Bucks co-owner and longtime Walker donor Jon Hammes.
          This is classic crony capitalism—a hefty dose of corporate welfare doled out to the benefit of a deep-pocketed political ally—and Walker has a long history of it in his home state. Indeed, one of Walker’s first acts as governor was to overhaul Wisconsin’s Department of Commerce, transforming it into the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), a poorly run crony capitalist boondoggle that has benefited his political allies at taxpayer expense.

  16. Rick Stryker


    One more point. In doing a post that questions Walker’s motives, you have skirted the real issue, which is: Is Walker right?

    Consider this. Unrestricted Jus soli in the US has encouraged a birth tourism industry. For example, USAHappyBaby is one company that advertises in China a complete citizenship package that it markets to wealthy Chinese families. For a fairly substantial sum, these companies will manage the whole process of coming to the US for the purpose of giving birth. Typically, these companies will arrange for the mother to come over, provide housing, food, shopping trips, and doctors appointments before the birth, arrange for doctors and the hospital, provide housing to recover after the birth, with nursing and nanny care services, and, very importantly manage the paperwork so that the mother and her baby return to China with a social security number and US passport for the baby.

    Why do people pay a lot for this service? Because it gives their child big advantages. If they want to come to college in the US, they can apply as US citizens and have financial aid programs and loan programs available to them as US citizens. After college or graduate school, if they want to work in the US, they can avoid the stress and difficulties of the work visa process and just start working. Also, if they stay in the US, as citizens they can apply for green cards for their parents, who can then come to live in the US. You may have to pay 50K or more to the birth tourism company to get these benefits, but many people are paying. If I were in a foreign country and had the money, I’d pay too.

    Walker doesn’t think this makes sense. Here’s my question: Isn’t Walker right? Is Menzie or any progressive reader willing to answer this question? (Hint: you can also chicken out and answer this question with silence)

    1. baffling

      rick, you don’t like the idea of buying your way to citizenship-understood. we also have an immigrant investment visa program (EB5 i believe), which allows an investor to buy a green card on their way to citizenship if desired. are you against buying your way to citizenship with this approach as well?

        1. baffling

          rick, in essence that is exactly what you are doing. and the purchase price is contributing to the american economy. now this process requires an investment (payment) of $500k to $1000k, signficantly more than the contributions from your birth tourism. so really, the question becomes at what price are we willing to sell citizenship?

      1. Rick Stryker


        You are being silly. There are a number of green card programs designed to attract the people that Congress thinks are beneficial for the country. That EB5 program is designed to attract entrepreneurs and was enacted in 1990 as a job stimulus program. There is also another green card program you can use if you are a scientist with a substantial reputation and publication list.

        1. baffling

          rick, the eb5 program requires the entrepreneur to invest $1 million into the economy. he or she does have to pay for the privilege of the green card. it does not simply attract entrepreneurs, it attracts entrepreneurs with money. poor entrepreneurs need not apply. it is a means of purchasing ones way to citizenship. look, i am not arguing against the eb5 program. i am simply calling it like i see it in terms of buying the process. we have laws that allow this to occur.

  17. 2slugbaits

    Ricardo Your history is as bad as your economics. The idea that the 14th Amendment only applied to citizens of the US is both circular and contrary to the purposes of the 14th Amendment as it was debated at the time. It is circular because your construction of the 14th Amendment effectively means that people are only citizens under the 14th Amendment if they are first citizens! Go reread what you wrote. It’s gobbledygook. It’s also historically wrong. The Dred Scott decision said that blacks (both free and slave) were not citizens and could never be citizens. But yet it is clear that blacks were under the jurisdiction of the US government. The Amendment defined citizenship in such a way that all blacks born in this country were citizens, which resolved the limbo status they were in between the adoption of the 13th Amendment and the 14th Amendment. For a good history on this see Eric Foner’s famous book on Reconstruction. There is a new updated edition out.

    If find it very strange that you can twist things so that someone like Sen. Cruz, who was born outside of the US and whose parents were NOT under US jurisdiction is considered a citizen while someone who was born in the US is not a citizen if that person’s parents are illegal aliens, who clearly are under US jurisdiction. Truly amazing amount of mental gymnastics.

    JBH Sometimes when I read your posts I imagine you walking down the street with a sandwich board proclaiming that the END IS NEAR…REPENT! Let’s get back to reality. Illegal immigration has always been part of the American experience. It was true long before 1776 and it is still true today. In the bigger scheme illegal immigration is a fairly small problem, with plenty of upsides that almost certainly outweigh the downsides. When your mind’s eye envisions “illegal immigrants” I’m guessing that you are not imagining Canadians and Norwegians sneaking across the northern Minnesota border. Be honest here. What you fear is change such that white European culture will no longer be pure and dominant. You’re frozen in time. Your arguments are no different than the arguments of the Know Nothings in the 1850s…only the ethnic group has changed.

    BTW, you need to get beyond this notion that the nation was Founded in 1776 & 1787. A nation was Founded, but that nation was reborn with a new Foundation during Reconstruction. The 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments are every bit as relevant and important as the Bill of Rights and the Federalist Papers. In fact, I would argue that the 1787 Founders made a hash of things and the Radical Republicans during Reconstruction were much wiser than the 1787 crowd. The 1787 Constitution lasted 74 years and fell apart at the seams. The Reconstructed Constitution has lasted twice as long. You conservatives are always worshipping the dead.

    Rick Stryker I have no problem with birth tourism. On balance it’s a winner for the US.

    1. Rick Stryker


      Right now, your progressive friends are thinking in their secret thoughts that Walker is right. They would love someone to be able to defend birth tourism so that they don’t have to admit it. I’m sure they are disappointed with your answer. Why don’t you elaborate on it for their sakes? Why is it a winner on balance?

      Why can’t I say, “I have no problem with Walker as President. On balance, it would be a winner for the country,” If birth tourism is a winner on balance, why don’t we eliminate the middle man and have the US government sell citizenships for a fixed cost, say 50K a pop?

      1. Barkley Rosser

        Sorry, Rick, do not include me in your list of secretly racist progressives. Bring on the birth tourists!

    2. Rick Stryker


      You badly misunderstood Ricardo’s point. His point was that being born in the US is not enough by itself to establish citizenship under the 14th amendment. The jurisdiction clause puts some limits on that. Ricardo cited a number of court cases to illustrate that point.

      Ricardo also suggested that the 14th Amendment does not automatically confer citizenship on the children of illegal aliens just because the children were born in the US. The Donald has also recently made that argument. Actually, I think there is decent historical and legal evidence for that position. However, as I said before, I don’t think the Supreme Court would go along. As always, it would come down to Justice Kennedy and my reading of him is that he would not sign off.

    3. Rick Stryker


      In your reply to JBH, your history is completely flawed when you say: “Illegal immigration has always been part of the American experience. It was true long before 1776 and it is still true today.”

      No, at the time the 14th amendment was adopted, there was no concept of illegal immigration. Immigration was completely unregulated at that time and the US had an open border policy. The first true federal legislation on this came in 1875, when convicts and prostitutes were excluded. Before that there were a few abortive efforts that went no where. The Alien Act of 1796 authorized the President to expel aliens he felt were dangerous but the act was criticized and withdrawn in 1800. State efforts in the first half of the 19th century to limit immigration were set aside by the Court as an encroachment on the Federal government’s authority to regulate foreign commerce.

      It’s important to understand this historical reality when trying to understand what was going through the minds of the authors of the 14th amendment.

    4. JBH

      2slugbaits I address the erosion of personal liberty, the blatant condoning of illegality, and the phenomenon of political correctness. And point to what is happening to this country as a consequence. You start out with some fluff ball of an image of me in your head meant to be disparaging. You go on to presume to “guess” what is in my head, tell me what I “fear,” and have the audacity to tell me what I “need to get beyond.” Then slap on another slice by labeling me and telling me what I worship. This is your norm. Doesn’t your arm get tired carrying around such a big picnic basket of ad hominem sandwiches?

    5. Ricardo


      It is a question of jurisdiction. When the slaves were freed they fell under the jurisdiction of the US government and so were granted citizenship. All others born to parents pledging loyalty to another country do not qualify. You should try unbiased reading to gain understanding.

      1. baffling

        “All others born to parents pledging loyalty to another country do not qualify. ”
        i don’t believe that is what the 14th amendment states at all.

  18. Descended from immigrant scum

    If we’re going to change the rules so that being born in the US doesn’t qualify a person for citizenship, then let’s change the rules so that anyone descended from a US citizen is automatically a citizen. In 10 generations or so, when everyone on earth becomes a US citizen, this conversation is over.

    1. Ricardo

      immigrant scum,

      Any descended from a US citizen is automatically a citizen. Duh!

      But you make an interesting point. If immigration law is ignored as with President Obama’s executive orders and with ICE (lack of) enforcement you are right. Every person in the world will soon be a US citizen. Couple that with Democrats unrestricted voting and the whole world will be eligible to elect US politicians. The Chinese should love that.

  19. 2slugbaits

    Ricardo others born to parents pledging loyalty to another country do not qualify

    This is irrelevant because undocumented aliens do not ordinarily pledge loyalty to another country. The reason they’re here is because they want to be here. They would jump at the chance for American citizenship. Duh. And when the 14th Amendment was written the “jurisdiction” clause wasn’t about children of foreign diplomats; it was a way to fudge the problem with American Indians who were in one sense part of another “nation” and Chinese railroad workers out west.

    Rick Stryker at the time the 14 amendment was adopted, there was not concept of illegal immigration. Immigration was completely unregulated.

    Well..that was my point. I guess you missed the snark. That’s why the Reconstruction Congress didn’t give a second thought to the issue of whether or not the parents of children born here were immigrants or not. Alexander Hamilton is probably the best example of a pre-1776 undocumented immigrant. Pretty much all immigrants 200 years ago were undocumented, which is what people today would call “illegal immigrants.” And by the way, I’m all for opening up the borders for pretty much anyone who wants to come here, with very few exceptions.

    I think there is decent historical and legal evidence for that position

    You can always find a few crackpots, so I’m sure there are a few legal “scholars” who would be willing to sign onto the view that birthright citizenship does not mean what it plainly means. As to how the SCOTUS would vote…who knows? Justices Scalia and Alito are the modern day versions of Roger Tawney, and I suspect that a hundred years from now that’s how they will be portrayed by most legal scholars.

    Why don’t you elaborate on it for their sakes? Whis is it [birth tourism] a winner on balance?

    Let’s take your Chinese story as an example. In that case the Chinese pay for the rearing an primary education of some unproductive child, who then goes to the US to get an advanced education paid for by the Chinese. That education is equivalent to an export. And if that person decides to stay in this country, then the US will get the benefits of that person’s higher productivity. Better yet, if that person’s parents later emigrate to the US, then they also bring with them their savings, which gets spent in this country. Sounds like a winner to me. As you yourself noted, this country effectively had an open border for the first 100+ years, and back then we seem to have done just fine.

    Birth tourism also makes good sense in terms of international politics from a “systems” perspective. For example, during its Middle Republic period Rome used Roman citizenship as a tool for diplomacy and alliances. Rome was pretty much unique in that regard. It’s a major reason for its successful expansion during that period (e.g., see “Mediterranean Anarchy, Interstate War and the Rise of Rome”

    Afterall, if you know anything about ancient warfare, then you would know that Rome didn’t conquer the Mediterranean because of its excellent military leaders. Except for Fabius Maximus and Scipio Africanus most Romer generals were exceptional only in their incompetence. It was the way Rome was able to use citizenship as a way of binding alliances during the Middle Republic era that was key.

    1. Rick Stryker


      Nice try, but “undocumented” and “illegal” are not the same thing. You said that illegal immigration has been a constant since before this nation was founded. That’s false, since they were no laws governing immigration until the latter part of the nineteenth century.

      I think if you knew the history of this topic you would not be referring to “crackpots” who are denying what the 14th amendment plainly says. Do you think Harry Reid was a crackpot in 1993? He was obviously advised by legal experts when he put his bill together. What Ricardo is saying about the jurisdiction clause is right.

      1. 2slugbaits

        Rick Stryker Yes, Harry Reid was a crackpot when he said that. Perhaps he spent too much time in the boxing ring.

        You have a problem understanding nuance and context. I thought it was pretty obvious that I was pointing out that if the same people who are entering the country illegally today had entered the country 200 years ago, then the far right would have groped for some other excuse to keep them out. And vice versa; if all those Scots-Irish that came to this country 250 years ago without documentation tried to enter the country today without documentation, then they would be illegal immigrants but I doubt Ricardo and JBH would be especially concerned. In other words, it’s a little hard to see how something could be so horribly criminal and civilization ending today when that same physical fact was seen as perfectly okay 200 years ago. The only difference is that today you need a stamp of approval from some bureaucrat at the State Dept. That’s a technical and utterly contingent violation and not the huge affront to life-as-we-know-it that folks like Ricardo and JBH seem to believe. If you have to rely upon a contingent and arbitrary fact of law to support your argument, then you’ve made a pretty bad argument for everyone who lives outside of a courthouse.

    2. ottnott

      Ricardo wrote: others born to parents pledging loyalty to another country do not qualify

      2slugs responded: This is irrelevant because undocumented aliens do not ordinarily pledge loyalty to another country.

      I consider it irrelevant, because the citizenship-by-birth is a right granted to the newborn, not the parents. The newborn clearly has no loyalties to another country, and it has not violated any immigration laws. With relatively few exceptions, a person on American soil is subject to jurisdiction of the U.S. The 14th Amendment offers no grounds for denying the right to the child on the basis of the immigration status of the parents.

  20. Descended from immigrant scum

    No Duh! Because it isn’t true. A child born to American parents living in a foreign country has American citizenship, but the next generation doesn’t.

    1. Descended from immigrant scum

      But if you’re going to reject citizenship based on birth location and instead have citizenship based on family descent, then your fear that everyone will eventually become an American citizen will become true. Not because of Obama, it’s because of you.

  21. Rick Stryker


    I wonder if the Wisconsin Supreme Court has been drinking that cool aid. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that you are defending the despicable conduct of your fellow Wisconsin progressives. As the court notes below, executing armed searches before dawn increases the chances that something bad is going to happen, i.e., somebody is going to get killed. A search like that is very intimidating, which is the point. Of course, if you are searching a meth lab housed with violent drug dealers this kind of search can make sense. But why was this done on non-violent government workers who had not committed any crime? Here are some quotes from the decision ending the John Doe investigations:

    “On October 1, 2013, Reserve Judge Kluka authorized 29 subpoenas duces tecum to, among others, Unnamed Movants Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 8, based on an affidavit submitted to her by Investigator Stelter. These subpoenas compelled production of documents evidencing the conduct of coordination among the subpoenaed parties and a candidate committee, particularly the interaction between Unnamed Movants Nos. 1 and 2. That same day Reserve Judge Kluka authorized search warrants for the homes and offices of Unnamed Movants Nos. 6 and 7. The search warrants were executed at approximately 6:00 a.m. on October 3, 2013, in pre-dawn, armed, paramilitary-style raids in which bright floodlights were used to illuminate the targets’ homes.”

    “Having reached our conclusion about the scope of conduct regulated by Chapter 11, we now turn to the special prosecutor’s theories of coordination and whether the alleged conduct is regulated under Wisconsin law.[23] The special prosecutor has disregarded the vital principle that in our nation and our state political speech is a fundamental right and is afforded the highest level of protection. The special prosecutor’s theories, rather than “assur[ing] [the] unfettered interchange of ideas for the bringing about of political and social changes desired by the people,” Roth, 354 U.S. at 484, instead would assure that such political speech will be investigated with paramilitary-style home invasions conducted in the pre-dawn hours and then prosecuted and punished. In short, the special prosecutor completely ignores the command that, when seeking to regulate issue advocacy groups, such regulation must be done with “narrow specificity.” Barland II, 751 F.3d at 811 (quotations omitted).”

    “As part of the totality of the circumstances, courts have also considered whether safety concerns of the public or the officers justify the timing and the manner of a warrant’s execution. Although a paramilitary-style search in the darkness is undoubtedly justified in some circumstances, the current state of this record provides no indication that Unnamed Movants Nos. 6 and 7 “posed an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others,” were “actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight,” or were “themselves violent or dangerous.” See Estate of Smith v. Marasco, 430 F.3d 140, 150 (3d Cir. 2005) (holding that these facts are important for determining whether a SWAT-type search was reasonable). In the present case, executing the warrants in paramilitary fashion during pre-dawn darkness arguably might have actually increased the risk of injury to the public or the officers. See Bravo v. City of Santa Maria, 665 F.3d 1076, 1086 (9th Cir. 2011) (“SWAT officers’ nighttime searches . . . both constitute much greater intrusions on one’s privacy than ordinary daytime searches and carry a much higher risk of injury to persons and property.”).”

      1. Rick Stryker

        You claimed that it was drinking cool aid to believe that these raids on Walker’s supporters happened. And yet, the Court stated as a fact that

        The search warrants were executed at approximately 6:00 a.m. on October 3, 2013, in pre-dawn, armed, paramilitary-style raids in which bright floodlights were used to illuminate the targets’ homes.

        Are you denying that happened?

        1. Menzie Chinn Post author

          Rick Stryker: I doubt they occurred in the way described. Look at page 16 of the document, note the sources (National Review, Lowry, etc.), and the fact there is no independent verification, as noted. The majority is merely recounting those journalistic accounts uncritically. I certainly don’t find similar accounts in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (not! a leftist publication), Wisconsin State Journal, and Capitol Times.

          1. Rick Stryker

            No Menzie. The Justices did not rely on National Review or other such sources to establish the facts. You are looking at a separate concurring opinion in which that Justice wanted to consider 4th Amendment concerns with the paramilitary, nighttime searches. The Justice was asking why the searches occurred several days after the warrants were signed and why they were executed pre-dawn, so that floodlights were necessary to light up the houses.

            You missed this statement from that section:

            “Although not critical to my analysis, it is worth noting how some news outlets have
            described these searches. Had a hearing been held on the manner in which these searches were executed, it is uncertain whether the facts established in such a hearing would be consistent with these news reports or whether there is nonetheless “a legitimate government interest” in the execution of the search”

            In the majority opinion some pages back, the Justices noted that they were relying on the documentary record, but would make public only those facts that were necessary to write the opinion. The pre-dawn, paramilitary-style execution of the search warrants with floodlights was one of those facts.

          2. Menzie Chinn Post author

            Rick Stryker: If floodlights and the agents armed, I’d think that as appropriate as if they were raiding a marijuana dealer’s home. Did they come in shouting, guns drawn? I don’t know, but this context is important for figuring out what “paramilitary” means (Ferguson seems “paramilitary” to me). If you read this article, you’d see that there is some dispute over the use of violent intimidation in the search. I suggest you read the article, listen to the audio tape of the event.

  22. Rick Stryker


    Data wonk uses the audio tape to make much of two facts: the prosecutor was polite and he did Mirandize Archer, contrary to Archer’s complaint. From these facts, he thinks there is a “huge discrepancy” between what really happened and what Archer is saying, and by implication, what the right wing press has been saying about the other cases. I don’t think the tape shows any such huge discrepancy.

    1) The tape can’t say anything about many of the important facts, such as the time of the raid, the behavior of the other officers, etc. You can mainly hear the voice of the prosecutor. Nonetheless, the tape does confirm some facts as alleged, such as that Archer was partially dressed when answering the door, her partner was in the shower, she was very worried about her dogs, and that an officer did tell her to sit down and he mentioned “handcuffs.” This latter fact is crucial in my view. But the prosecutor was polite and he did eventually Mirandize Archer.

    2) Datawonk makes much of the politeness of the prosecutor but he misses the point of that. If you are a prosecutor, your goal is to get a target to answer questions with a very broad scope without his lawyer present. If you execute the warrant in the middle of the day, and you don’t send a huge force but rather just a few plain clothes officers, and then you invite the target down to the prosecutors office to answer questions later, you’ll never get anyone to show up without a lawyer, if they show up at all. When Archer came for the subsequent prosecutor interviews, she did have a lawyer of course.

    On the other hand, if you come in before dawn with large, intimidating force, you are very likely to find people confused and disoriented, for the same reason that armies often attack right before dawn. People are very likely to be partially or totally undressed, which humiliates and intimidates them. Then you do the classic good cop, bad cop routine. The prosecutor was clearly playing the good cop role on the audio tape. The good cop works to establish the subject’s trust. He offers you a cup of coffee or a cigarette. He commiserates with you. The bad cops are intimidating.

    You can hear the prosecutor do all that. You can hear Archer protesting that she’s done nothing wrong and never did, and the prosecutor says that someone in his office speaks very highly of her, as if he really believes it too. Then the prosecutor says that it’s time in his opinion for Cindy Archer to think about Cindy Archer and that people she thinks are her friend really aren’t. (Actually, it’s the prosecutor who is not her friend in this despicable little exchange.) Psychologically, the goal of this is to get Archer to want to cooperate with the prosecutor. She is scared and wants them all to leave. She doesn’t want the prosecutor, who seems to sympathize with her, to think she has done anything wrong. So, contrary to every defense attorney’s advice, she agrees to waive her constitutional rights and answer questions without a lawyer.

    Yes, the prosecutor was polite, but that’s very consistent with a paramilitary raid before dawn.

    3) I’m not part of the case and I don’t know what Archer’s legal strategy is, but I think the issue they are raising is the timing of the Mirandizing. I think they are saying that at the moment that she was legally in custody, when handcuffs were mentioned, and she agreed to sit down, cooperate and answer their questions, they should have Mirandized her. But instead, they Mirandized her after they went through the process of first intimidating her and then establishing her trust. I think that Archer’s lawyers believe that a jury and judge will looks askance at a process in which, after a process of intimidation and psychological manipulation, the prosecutor Mirandizes when he’s convinced that process has worked and subject is psychologically ready to waive his rights. You can still be coerced legally, even if you have been Mirandized.

    Based on my understanding of the facts, I believe this prosecutorial misconduct did violate Archer’s rights under the First and Fourth Amendments and that she was gravely harmed in the process.

    1. Rick Stryker

      By the way, we should also talk about why this sort of outrage can happen in America. Why don’t we see these types of raids more generally? The reason is the peculiar Wisconsin John Doe laws. Prosecutors do not generally engage in these kinds of raids because of the public scrutiny that will inevitably follow. The first amendment is a huge counterbalance to government oppression. In this case, these prosecutors thought they could get away with the raids because of the secrecy requirements of the John Doe laws, which shielded them from accountability The prosecutors did not count on the fact that their conservative targets would defy the secrecy and speak out. Now, the prosecutors must answer publicly for their conduct.

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