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Point: Political Russian roulette


Carlos J. Toledo September 16th, 2010

Politicians are jeopardizing their viability in the long run by targeting citizen children of illegal immigrants, for it risks alienating the fastest-growing voting bloc in Oklahoma.

I wonder why some so-called "conservative" Oklahoma Republicans are echoing their national counterparts, favoring either circumventing or a change to the Constitution's 14th Amendment that would forbid children of illegal aliens born in the state from becoming Americans.

This is not only the equivalent of political Russian roulette, but it is "un-conservative," cheap politics, bad policy and even bad electoral strategy.

In Oklahoma, a local TV station reported that Republican state Reps. " Mike Christian from south Oklahoma City and 1804 immigration law author Randy Terrill from Moore " were discussing a "birthright citizenship" bill; if introduced and passed, it would ensure that any child born from illegals in Oklahoma would not be granted a birth certificate.  

I am a proud conservative, yet this approach is "un-conservative." Does Oklahoma want to send the message that if your parents came to this country illegally or overstayed their visa " as an American and an Oklahoman " you would be punished for the decisions that somebody else took when you were not even born?

I doubt that depriving an individual from having a legal category for the illegal actions of his parents is conservative. I thought that as conservatives, we wanted to give parents the right tools to make the appropriate decisions regarding their unborn children and young citizens, since they can't have a say of their own. Aren't children sacred for us conservatives?  

Politicians are jeopardizing their viability in the long run by targeting citizen children of illegal immigrants. On this issue, this is harmful for Republicans, for it risks alienating the fastest-growing minority and voting bloc in Oklahoma: Hispanics. This plays political Russian roulette and ignores that Latinos share more common ground with Republicans than with Democrats.

That's why circumventing the 14th Amendment or denying birth certificates equal bad electoral strategy. Karl Rove, political adviser to President Bush, knows that playing the immigration card in this manner is risky for Republicans. Bush, when re-elected, won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote. John McCain got only 31 percent of Hispanic support in 2008 after a primary season in which he moved to the right on immigration issues.  

Circumventing the 14th Amendment is like trying to conceal the sun with one finger. There is immigration to the U.S. because this is the land of opportunity; but then, there is illegal immigration because we don't have a system that responds to our economic reality and our demand of workers.

This problem is created by the omission of the legislative and executive branches. Insightful immigration reform is needed " one that addresses border security, economy, verification of legal status, work eligibility, verification of criminal background, deportation of criminals and an earned path to legalization. 

A bill like this one is cheap politics, for it plays to the concerns and fears of conservatives; some of these are legitimate, but misguided.

Toledo is news director at KTUZ-TV, the Telemundo affiliate in Oklahoma City.
 
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