Mr. Dan Grech
WLRN Miami Herald News Director
Dear Mr. Grech,
I am a law professor at the University of Miami. I am writing to express my concern about something I heard on WLRN this morning during the Miami Herald News segment. The segment concerned the discussion held yesterday in the Miami Herald editorial offices between competing candidates for Congress in FL-22. (I was in my car, but I believe it ran shortly after 7:30am. I can't find it online.)
In the discussion of the candidates' differences over immigration, Allen West's position was described as “hardline”; his position was that babies born in the US should not have citizenship. Whatever the merits of this idea as social policy (the so-called 'anchor babies' to which he referred have been shown to be pretty much mythical) it does listeners, most of whom are not professors of constitutional law, a great disservice to call this a “hardline” position. It is not a matter of policy that could be changed by Congress or the Executive. It is, quite simply, part of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.
Either the candidate is proposing that we ignore the Constitution as it has been understood for generations, or he is proposing that we repeal the 14th Amendment. Proposals to violate the law, or to amend basic rules that have served us for generations, may be called many things — I'd call them “radical” — but they cannot fairly be called “hardline” without substantially more context than your report offered.
We might call differences on how aggressively to attempt to enforce immigration laws — e.g. what resources to devote to factory or farm-worker raids — as an issue to which the “spend more on enforcement” position is fairly abbreviated as “hardline”. But the “ignore the Constitution” or the “repeal the 14th Amendment” positions are something else entirely, something I hope your future reports — even the very short ones — will make more clear.
A. Michael Froomkin
Laurie Silvers & Mitchell Rubenstein Distinguished Professor of Law