Commentary: Immigration debate hits a new low

The latest craze in the immigrant-bashing fad is the drive to deny citizenship to U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants — never mind what the 14th amendment says.

Incredibly, advocates of this notion are ready to toss aside nearly 150 years of legal precedent and the plain language of the Constitution in an effort to gain partisan advantage out of one of the most divisive and complicated issues on the national agenda.

Several top Republicans are calling for hearings to revisit the 14th Amendment, the Civil War era addition to the Constitution that grants American citizenship to most everyone born in this country, save for the children of foreign diplomats and Native Americans born on sovereign reservations.

This suggests either a profound misunderstanding of the law -- Congress cannot write a law explaining what the Constitution really means -- or a desire to plunge the country into a useless political brawl that would serve only to distract lawmakers from finding a real solution to the immigration problem.

Rewriting the amendment would require a super majority to win approval, followed by a ratification by 38 of the 50 states. Neither of these is likely. Or they could call a constitutional convention. That has never been done. Nor should it.

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