Things That Matter

If Birthright Citizenship Comes To An End, All Americans Can Expect To Pay More If They Have A Child

Every time Donald J. Trump brings up the possibility of ending birthright citizenship there is a ripple effect in society. Birthright citizenship is one of the most unique characteristics of the United States legal framework. Birthright citizenship brings hope to millions of migrant families and generates an inclusive society. 

The discussion around birthright citizenship is not new, but it certainly has gained notoriety in the past few weeks. One of the biggest practical consequences of abolishing this right would be the resources and subsequent tax money that would be needed to prove that a baby can be a citizen. 

Of course, people on social media are quick to point out the irony of Trump’s intentions given his own family, past and present.

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Trump’s ancestors are German migrants who found a home in the United States and even pleaded with the authorities to be able to stay. His wife Melania is an immigrant who was able to bring her parents to the United States. So it is quite ironic that his stance on immigration is so severe and threatens to bring civil liberties to a precarious position. 

So this is how birthright citizenship works…

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From July 9, 1868, if you are born in territory belonging to the United States, you are a citizen, period. Birthright citizenship is established in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which reads in its Section 1: ” 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”.

This is pretty clear and there is no room for interpretation, so Trump’s willingness to change this would be a huge deal and an issue of constitutional law. 

Birthright citizenship was first established to protect former slaves: it is what makes the United States an inclusive society.

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Birthright citizenship was a consequence of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which was established to protect recently liberated slaves, guaranteeing their legal protection. Some free men and women were born of parents that were brought to America as slaves, whether from Africa or from slave trade epicenters in the Caribbean.

In many respects, as Martha S. Jones writes in The Atlantic, birthright citizenship is a triumph of diversity.

She writes: “In the U.S., birthright citizenship begins here, in the struggles of the marginalized and the despised to make this nation their own even as so many claimed that when it came to rights, it was a white man’s country”.

Let’s keep it what way, shall we?

In fact, the United States is quite unique among developed countries and that is what makes it special.

Credit: Quartz

Most developed countries including Western European nations, New Zealand and Australia have restrictions on who can become a citizen by birth. These restrictions mean that one of the parents must be either a citizen or a resident of the country. Proving this translates into huge amounts of paperwork, particularly when the parents were brought into a country under difficult circumstances.

In Australia, for example, hundreds of British and Irish children were sent to the country by religious institutions as part of a government initiative to make Australia racially white. Some of these children were not orphaned at all: they were simply taken from their families. For some of these children, proving citizenship once they are grown ups can be a bureaucratic hell.

Ending birthright citizenship would add a huge burden on local, state and federal bureaucratic systems.

report written by Margaret Stock for the National Foundation of American Policy concludes that: “Creating two classes of babies will necessarily be more expensive to administer than the current system. The parents’ status will have to be verified by a government official, who will then determine whether a newborn is a U.S. citizen (or not)”. More prosecutors, immigration lawyers, courts and administrative staff will be needed.

And, let’s face it, this overturn of the Constitution would be enacted under clear racial and racist undertones. She expands: “The parents’ status will have to be verified by a government official, who will then determine whether a newborn is a U.S. citizen (or not). After making the determination, the official will then issue different documents to the two different groups of children, resulting in a two-tier caste system for babies born in America. Distinguishing between the babies in each category will necessarily require more bureaucracy than what exists today”. It all sounds like a Kafkaesque hell to us! 

But there are even worse consequences.

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According to the Margaret Stock report, ending birthright citizenship would really alter what the United States looks like in terms of its moral, ethical and cultural composition. She argues that this change would bring the following consequences, among others.

First, “Creating a two-tier American caste system that will result in a significant decrease in the population of younger U.S. citizens”. 

Damn, and double damn. This sounds like out of Orwell’s 1984 or a bad science-fiction movie. Do Americans want a country of desirables and undesirables?

And second, it would lead to the “Creation of a centralized citizenship authority and National ID card”. Well, this would prove a bunch of conspiracy theorists right, wouldn’t it?

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Report Shows That Immigration Narratives On TV Are Latinx-Focused And Over-Emphasize Crime

Entertainment

Report Shows That Immigration Narratives On TV Are Latinx-Focused And Over-Emphasize Crime

The media advocacy group Define American recently released a study that focused on the way immigrant characters are depicted on television. The second-annual study is entitled “Change the Narrative, Change the World”.

Although the study reports progress in some areas of onscreen representation, there is still a long way to go.

For example, the study reported that half of the immigrant characters depicted on television are Latino, which is consistent with reality. What is not consistent with reality, however, is how crime-related storylines are still an overrepresented theme in these storylines.

The study shows that on television 22% of immigrant characters have crime storylines show up as part of their narratives. These types of storylines further pedal the false narrative that immigrants are criminals, when in reality, they’re just everyday people who are trying to lives their best lives. Ironically, this statistic is an improvement on the previous year’s statistics in which crime themes made up 34% of immigrants’ stories on TV.

These numbers are further proof that the media feels stories of Latino immigration have to be about sadness and hardship in order to be worth watching.

According to Define American’s website, their organization believes that “powerful storytelling is the catalyst that can reshape our country’s immigration narrative and generate significant cultural change.”

They believe that changing the narratives depicted in entertainment media can “reshape our country’s immigration narrative and generate significant cultural change.” 

“We wanted to determine if seeing the specific immigration storylines influenced [viewers’] attitudes, behavior, or knowledge in the real world,” said Sarah Lowe, the associate director of research and impact at Define American to Variety. “And we were reassured and inspired to see the impact it had.” 

Define American’s founder, Jose Antonio Vargas, is relatively optimistic about the study’s outcomes, saying that the report has “some promising findings” and the numbers “provide [him] with hope”. He added that there are still “many areas in which immigrant representation can improve”.

via Getty Images

Namely, Vargas was disappointed in television’s failure to take an intersectional approach to immigration in regards to undocumented Black immigrants. 

“Black undocumented immigrants are detained and deported at higher rates than other ethnic groups,” Vargas told Variety. “But their stories are largely left off-screen and left out of the larger narrative around immigration.” 

“Change the Narrative, Change the World” also showed that Asian and Pacific Islander immigrants are also under-represented on television compared with reality. Also worth noting, male immigrants were over-represented on television compared to reality, while immigrants with disabilities were also under-represented.

The study also showed that when viewers are exposed to TV storylines that humanize immigrants, they’re more likely to take action on immigration issues themselves. 

The effect that fictional entertainment narratives have on viewers further proves that representation does, indeed, matter. What we watch as entertainment changes the way we think about other people’s lived experiences. And that, in turn, can change the world.

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The Trump Administration Just Announced That They’re Banning TikTok Downloads Starting on Sunday

Things That Matter

The Trump Administration Just Announced That They’re Banning TikTok Downloads Starting on Sunday

On Friday, the Trump administration announced that it would be blocking future downloads of social media app TikTok starting on midnight on Sunday.

“At the President’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations,” said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross

The Trump Administraiton is also taking action against the popular messaging and payment app WeChat, banning American companies from hosting the app’s internet traffic or processing transactions for the app (one of its key features).

Both TikTok and WeChat are the two most popular tech exports from China.

via Getty Images

TikTok is a popular video-sharing platform that allows users to share 15-second videos of themselves dancing and lip-syncing to popular music (among other things). The app recently exploded in popularity, racking up 99.8 million downloads in the first six months of 2020.

TikTok and WeChat have both been recent targets of the Trump administration due to their data-collection practices.

TikTok, specifically, has recently come under fire for violating Google privacy policies. TikTok collects and documents massive amounts of data from their users, like videos watched and commented on, location data, device type, and copy-and-paste “clipboard” contents. The app even records people’s keystroke rhythms as they type.

The Trump Administration has long been suspicious of TikTok’s data-collection, speculating that TikTok might be sending the data to the Chinese government.

The Trump administration has argued that such massive amounts of data in the hands of a foreign government is a threat to national security. TikTok denies that they are handing over the data to the Chinese government.

TikTok, for their part, are not hiding their displeasure about the ban, releasing a public statement saying: “We will continue to challenge the unjust executive order, which was enacted without due process and threatens to deprive the American people and small businesses across the US of a significant platform for both a voice and livelihoods.”

This isn’t the first time TikTok has gone toe-to-toe with the Trump administration. The social media company sued the administration in August after Trump signed an executive order enacting broad sanctions against the app. TikTok claimed that the order denied the company of due process.

The TikTok ban is making waves because it marks the first time the U.S. has banned a tech app on the basis of national security concerns.

But some critics are saying that there doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason behind the ban. “It just feels to me to be improvisational,” said cyber-security expert Adam Segal.

Both TikTok users and concerned Americans have taken to the internet to express their anger at the Trump administration’s decision.

“Don’t be mistaken folks,” said one Twitter user. “Sunday it will be TikTok. Tomorrow it will be twitter, FB, Instagram…you name it…We must protect free speech!”

Another pointed out the hypocrisy of Trump targeting China when he doesn’t seem to be as concerned about Russia meddling in our internet affairs. “I live in a world where TikTok is a threat to national security but Russian interference in our elections is not,” she said. “This is Trump’s America.”

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