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tv   Tenement Museum - Birthright Citizenship  CSPAN  March 20, 2019 6:35pm-8:06pm EDT

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melania trump's be best campaign and in the role of the first lady. and watch "washington journal" looknday for an in-depth at the freshmen members of the 160th congress their interviews committee events and moments from key hearings. ♪ announcer: coming up, a look at birthright citizenship and immigration policy in the u.s. broughtment museum historians and scholars together for the discussion. it runs about an hour and a half. everyone.ening, welcome to the tenement museum. my name is laura lee in and manage that program here at the museum. i am excited to have you for our discussion on birthright citizenship. we are here with our partners, the scholars strategy network,
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which we will hear more about later. how many of you have been to the museum before, i am curious? wow, excellent. thank you for coming back and for being connected to us in this way. we actually see these talks as an extension of the conversations we have on our tour. so what we do here is we tell the stories of immigrants, migrants and refugees. we are really site specific, some many of the stories we tell our of those families who lived on orchard street and i-97 orchard in the middle of the block. thousands of families call these buildings home it a they have lived there generations of labor law, housing law and voting laws changing, so we tell the stories of their daily lives, and how the historical context they are living in is impacting their lives. the conversations we have are really driven by our visitors and their curiosity, that comes
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from family connections, but also from the political context and conversations happening today. that means the conversations in our programs are ever-changing. one of the stories we tell at 97 orchard street is the story of the believe the family. they came to new york from palermo, sicily. the father came first, just before the johnson read act, which would severely restrict immigration from eastern and southern europe. and his wife would come a few years later. and so she would come after the law would be passed. we know she was undocumented. and we know that they had two children here in new york city, josephine and johnny. when we talk about this family at the museum, our visitors often acknowledge the children's citizenship status. they will say, they were born here, that is a given. they are citizens.
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but now that there is this challenge to birthright citizenship, the conversation about what that means, that given, is that going to be the case in the future? so really thinking about how statedcident -- this that was set in the reconstruction era that gave african american citizenship status, how that has evolved into an immigration issue today, that is what we are curious about. and so that is why we have invited experts here, and you all here, to be part of the conversation. we will hear from our panel, but we will also have a question and answer session, so that we can hear your questions as well. before i introduce our panel, i want to introduce our partner in the evening. h brown is a professor at the city university of new york and a coleader of the scholars strategy network. >> thank you so much. thank you tenement museum for having us.
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there are two reasons why i am so excited about this event, about organizing it and attending it. the first is my role as one of the leaders, one of the code leaders, along with my colleague diana romero, who is in the back somewhere of the scholar strategy network. we are a group of about 50 or so, mainly university-based researchers who have in interest in connecting what we do in the classroom and in our research and scholarship to a wider conversation. events like facing this with institutions like the tenement museum. if you are involved in civic organization that would like to collect test connect with us, that you feel like maybe what we have to say may be helpful to what you do, or as importantly maybe we need to hear about what you do in the community with the issues that you care about, please let us know afterwards. we are excited for this kind of event and future events.
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the second reason why i am so excited about this event is my great, great grandfather owned a drugstore at orchard and stanton, two blocks away from here. he owned a drugstore after he immigrated to the country. his story is not unlike the family we spoke about. he came to the country escaping persecution. came to the country with dubious paperwork, arrived in the country at a time period different from what we are in now. if he arrived today, his situation and my family's immigrant story would be greatly changed. third, my mother is here, so thank you to her for coming as well. [applause] heath: an immigrant as well. we are excited about the event and decided to hear about this. we have information in the back
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about our organization, if you want to pick it up when you are leaving. thank you for coming. >> ok, i will just give you some brief introductions of, our panelists, but know we will have a q&a session. we will pass around a microphone. when it is your turn to speak, wait for the microphone. c-span is here, they are recording us and we want to make sure that evening as part of that recording. i was die with the person closest to me. heather lee is an assistant professor of history at nyu, shanghai. her research has been featured in atlantic magazine and in a podcast on food science and history. she has curated exhibitions, including shows at the new york historical society, the national museum of american history, and the museum of the chinese in america. she is completing a book on the history of chinese restaurants
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in new york city. is the have -- who cofounding editor and a senior reporter at documented, a nonprofit news site that covers immigration in the new york area. he was a reporter at the guardian u.s. in new york at the national desk, as well as at in of innovation lab. he started his career covering the crisis in beirut, lebanon for the local units -- look at you wish newspaper, the daily star. garrett epps is a professor of law at the university of baltimore. he has written five books. and that includes a narrative account of the framing and adoption of the 14th amendment. he is a former reporter for the washington post and the author of two novels. now i will turn it over to heather. [applause] thank you for being here. this is -- when we plan these
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events, we give an estimate, maybe 20 or 30 people will show up, but so many of you came, so many more rsvp to'd, it is sucha delight to see every seat filled. it is such an honor to be here with my co-panelists. i'm a historian, so like the tenement museum, the present and past comes alive in the stories we tell it both of these individuals tell stories about the past connected to the present. and they explained to us why concepts like birthright citizenship should matter to each of us in our everyday lives, not just in the moment they become threatened by executive order, which is actually how we got here. i was at an event in the fall and heath and i were talking, we were like, what is going on with
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this executive order about birthright citizenship, we should do something about it. so here we are today. i want to give the panelists an opportunity to share about their work and what about this topic connects most of their work. >> thanks. theo -- thank you to the tenement museum for having me here. i am a scholar and we have a rule of thumb, when we start getting phone calls from people who want us to make speeches, the republic is in trouble. if things are going well, we cannot get arrested. [laughter] >> and certainly in this particular area, which is the area of citizenship and the constitution, the trouble is great and it has been growing year-by-year, since i have been working in this field.
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in the 1990's, we have seen it go in the following way, perhaps we should amend the constitution to do away with birthright citizenship. step two is, perhaps we can pass a statute to do away with birthright citizenship. we can do congress, congress can do it. maybe a court can do it. finally in the summer of last year we arrived at this deeply disturbing idea, clearly floated out of the white house, that the president can do it by executive order. just realizing how far we centrale from a real, anchor of our constitutional order and how little people understand about why our lot of citizenship is the way it is. so i will very quickly tell you or summarize what my book shows about that. and -- ok.
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is that better? ok. the founders of the 14th amendment had a problem. and the problem was more complicated than we are likely to give it credit for today. i do not know if you remember the 2016 campaign, but senator paul -- who -- [mic feedback] garrett: he was still a candidate and he said the purpose of the 14th amendment was to make citizens out of the slaves. and therefore we do not need to apply it in any other context. that is clearly wrong, if you go back and look at the record. the central problem of course was that slavery had created a class of people in the united o had been living here but could never attain citizenship.
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they were a permanent underclass with no legal rights. that clearly had to be changed, as a result of the civil war, because it had torn the country apart. but beyond that there was this central problem, two problems. one was the rights of immigrants. one thing you are going to hear when people talk about this issue is the framers of the 14th amendment, they didn't understand about illegal immigration, they do not have the problem we have today. you go back and look at the census, the percentage of foreign-born americans at that time was as high as, maybe even greater, than today. extraordinarys an phenomenon and the population of the union grew 4 million during the civil war from streams of immigration from europe, 20% of the union army was made up of foreign-born people who came to the u.s. and fought in order to get citizenship. this was very much on the minds of people when they fashioned to
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the citizenship clause. in fact, most of the debate that you see in the congress on the framing of the citizenship clause has to do with the status of immigrants. oldthe democrats, who as an democrat i regret to say we are on the wrong side of the issue at this point, the democrats kept saying, you do not mean to make citizens out of x. to which the sponsor said, if they are born in the united states, they are citizens, right? and the chief exhibit in this debate was about chinese people. and at that time, chinese people who emigrated, they were lawfully present, but they were never eligible to be citizens. and so the debate was, well surely chinese people's children cannot be citizens, because they themselves cannot be citizens.
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and the answer in the record was, no, if they are born in the united states, they are citizens. the reasoning for it was we cannot let another group of people grow up in this country that have fewer rights as a hereditary matter. if we do it, we will have to fight the civil war all over again. and the movement now to take citizenship away from the children of the undocumented represents precisely the same impulse. one of the things that is talked about a great deal in the debate over the 14th amendment is the notion of caste. we like to think of it today as about racism or so forth, but they talked about caste, and that was a system that was hierarchical, lifelong and hereditary. you are born into a status and you could not change it. and they said this we cannot have in the united states, we
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cannot be a modern democracy and have a caste system. the assault on birthrights is that ship, and the -- birthright citizenship, and the scotia being used to justify it, really represents an attempt to reinstate the notion of caste, hereditary and lifelong. and in a way that would hear the country apart and destroy the democratic values that we care about them if it is allowed to progress. yeah. [laughter] [applause] >> that was incredible. i'm very happy to be here as well. and seniornder reporter at documented, as was mentioned. we are a small nonprofit news site dedicated to covering immigrants and the policies that affect their lives. so immigration right now is busy
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to say the least. no shortage of things to cover. and given we are in a moment around the world, it is also a complicated time to be a journalist. we really shape how people view individuals, issues, and influence policy. mazin: so, did i say something wrong? [laughter] mazin: good, ok. so as far as policy is concerned, immigration might be one of the most divisive issues we are dealing with right now. and the media has been weaponize on this issue for a very long time. go back to the 1850's, a newspaper out of louisiana titled, the american patriot, which supported the know nothing party. that advocated for indian irish catholic immigration to the u.s. and the paper was in favor of sending back poppers and criminals. polarization existed
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one of your 50 years ago and now we still have similar polarization in our media. whether it is right-wing outlets, or liberal outlets calling for more sympathetic policies. and the 14th amendment has propped up a lot in the media over the last few decades. usually in relation to like mainly to topic areas. one is anchor babies, the idea that people are coming to the u.s. illegally to have a child that can attain a status of some kind. this is the industry of people coming to the u.s., spending a lot of money, pregnant women coming to the u.s. to effectively buy an american passport. there was the issue of terror babies, this was where terrorists were sending pregnant women to the u.s. to have children that could come back 20 or 30 years later to commit some
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act of violence as a u.s. citizen. not a lot of data to support the long-term strategy behind that. that was something that was discussed in the media as well. so anchor babies is a favorite among conservatives, and it is interesting as a case in how immigration is discussed today. right-wing pundits take up the issue as a crisis, that immigrants are capitalizing on a loophole in the constitution and coming to the u.s. and taking advantage of american generosity, while some outlets are more sympathetic toward immigration. is anchor babies as a term dehumanizing to the children, to refer to a baby in that way. is more interesting because it kind of brings this theory across the board. there was a 2050 raided by hotels agents, who rated
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where the chinese women were reportedly paying tens of thousands of dollars to have their babies in the u.s. and there have been other stories about russian mother is in miami. there was a story about russian mothers staying in the trump hotel to have babies. yeah -- [laughter] mazin: there is a lot of interest in this industry and the subculture. in new york, we know the story about a hotel in queens. and it kind of draws interest from the left and right, people from both sides find it interesting, but the coverage can be alarmist, the undertone that people are taking advantage, where if you look at the numbers it is pretty small the number of people born to birth tourists. and you have to be extremely wealthy to do this, it is tens of thousands of dollars to come and live in the u.s. for months without working. it is not really the issue of
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size. maybe it is over reported. so the documented, we are trying to work around the people who are most affected by these issues, we try to look at the individuals most impacted by the system. so being at the museum and on the advice of heather, i wanted to highlight how the 14th amendment affected the people that we cover at documented. i called laura lie williams, who is with us, she is one of new york city's fiercest immigration attorneys. and she is the director of lgbtq andn for previously worked as an attorney for those miners house by the federal government. i asked if she had experience dealing with the 14th amendment and it she told me the story of a child, we will call that child john. john was born in connecticut to central america parents. shortly after his birth, his
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family returned to central america, to their home country. when things got dangerous there, he and thousands of other children made the trek to the u.s. and during this journey he lost his birth certificate that proved he was born here. his parents did not know that since he was a u.s. citizen he could've flown to the u.s. and he would have been allowed into the country. they were not aware of that. so he ended up at the u.s. mexico border, where he was met by federal agents and put in federal custody at a shelter. that is where he met laurali. she realized he was a u.s. citizen by birth, but he did not have his birth certificate, so she spent months dealing with local agencies, trying to get a hold of his birth certificate. he had to spend months in a shelter try to get released while this was ongoing. she was successful and he was released to a sponsor, but she told me that there are other children like john who come to the u.s., either not knowing
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that they have birthright citizenship, or that they are citizens, or not being able to prove that they are citizens, even if they know it. and they spend months in immigration detention because of it. [applause] heather: thank you, both. i want to hold onto a phrase you had, the generosity of the american legal system, or our policies toward immigration. i want us to think about what you just described as the claim, the -- maybe this is better? no? [laughter] heather: i am sure everybody down the street also wants to hear me. i want to think about how hard and give us a little more space for how hard immigrants have
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fought to keep that. i am thinking of the constitutional case that took place in 1898, and how that really connects to the story of this young man, this boy, who had to prove his justification for being a birthright citizen. so, i guess, could you tell us a little bit more as a constitutional lawyer about this case, and how the proof of it was on the burden of immigrants? well, without going into a lot of detail that i will mess catches the hypothesis i was talking about, where it was said during the debates, yes much out of chinese immigrants born in the u.s. will be an american citizen. and he was born in the united
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states, but the federal government did not want to recognize his citizenship, so they had to go to court. over this. and there is a fairly exhaustive opinion where they sort of say, well, what class of people would not be borne in the united states -- born in the united states? what class of people who are born here would not be born here? and you can review the literature, and they say that there are a couple of things, and of course by this point we are way past the era of -- a lot of that language was put in to cover the language of india law, we are now way past that. so they say the only two groups here,re, you know, not even when they are here, are
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covered by diplomatic immunity. their children are not citizens. they can be born at g.w. hospital and they don't -- the dim mants don't want their children given citizenship, and an invading army coming in and have children while they're occupying u.s. soil. otherwise, you know, there is no racial characteristic to birthright citizenship. wong kim arc is very important case in that regard and very much under assault. when i write about birthright citizenship, what i write about is what happened at the framing of the 14th amendment. and whenever i publish anything on this subject, which is regrettably often, because it's so much in the news, i get dozens of emails from trolls saying, you know, you don't understand wong kim ark.
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wong kim ark is completely wrong. and there's a whole elaborate folklore that's grown up. i mean, fake news, you know, that is about what really happened in wong kim ark. it's pretty straightforward. but the forces -- what we call restrictionist forces, the ungenerous part of the american spirit, really senses that this case is in their way. and they are trying to find some rationale to get it reversed. and they are hoping that that will happen in front of the supreme court if they try to do something. now, i think trying to do it by executive order would doom the effort because i think even this court would say no, you can't do that. but statute or lower court decision, you know, we should not be too sanguine that it can't happen. and if it does, try to -- to
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game out in your mind what happens following that. what happens following that when we have four million or five million people in this country who suddenly have no state, they have no status, when every person who needs to deal with the federal government is required to prove citizenship. this has already started in south texas, for example. the -- routinely refusing to recognize the citizenship of latino people born in south texas whose parents used mid wives which is quite common. because they say well, we don't have hospital records. you must have been an unlawful immigrant smuggled across the border. this is covertly stripping citizenship from people born here. multiply that by a hundred and that's what you've got if wong kim ark is actually challenged. does that address what you wanted? >> no. thank you very much. for me, a dimension of that was
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for people who don't know the history of legislation against chinese immigration but there were a set of acts called the chinese exclusion act that passed in 1882 that said that chinese laborors would not be allowed into the country and this was made indefinite in 1905. but another dimension of this law was that chinese could not naturalize. so one of the arguments against wong kim ark is the framers did not intend the chinese who should not have been able to naturalize the right -- to bitter right citizenship. >> right. heather: you see a similar twist today in the arguments that are being made by paul ryan, trump, that the 14th amendment, the right of -- i'm going to butcher latin because i don't read or speak -- but yusoli doesn't apply to people who are not lawfully here and i
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would love for you to forecast a little what it means if -- if that interpretation prevails, if people who are not lawfully here, their children do not have access to birthright citizenship, what does that mean about wider patterns as you see on the ground? >> yes. it's an interesting question. i think it kind of gets at, you now, is the 14th amendment a factor for immigration? i think a lot of these things are based off the notion that people are coming to the u.s. specifically to have children. i think senator lindsey graham called it drop and leave. yeah. people were crossing the border dropping their babies and then like i don't know, leaving the country. i'm not sure. but either way, the notion was that the 14th amendment is somehow a magnet for illegal immigration and other kinds of immigration. and there's not a ton of data to support that. i think that migration flows are typically dictated by the
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economy and how much work there is in the united states. you know, and when there's a recession immigration tends to dip. people are coming here usually looking for jobs. and the statistics that they often use to support that are around the number of undocumented people that have children. and, you know, they're like 10 million or 11 million undocumented people and have been here for decades and some of them had kids. and the people are -- lived mere for 20 years and inevitable that they might start a family. so the idea that, you know, ending birthright citizenship is in some way going to restrict immigration in the future is unlikely. i think it's more probably borne out of limiting the number of rights that people ave currently living here. heather: thank you. when i was sort of -- i was researching the #birthrightcitizenship and one of the things that shocked me
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when somebody conflated all chinese tourism to the united states with birthright tourism. nd it said 25 -- $25 billion industry per year. well, that would really improve our economy if that were true. thank you very much, china. i want to talk about a lesser sort of -- talked about dimension of birthright citizenship, for me falls under the category of birthright citizenship and again, excuse my latin. but as -- sanguineee which is the concept that the children of u.s. citizens born abroad also have the right of citizenship. it's often called derivative citizenship. and garrett, would you mind telling us about how that came o be and how that works. >> well, go back to the original constitution. the only reference to citizenship in the 1787 constitution has to do with the qualifications to be president
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of the united states. you have to be a natural born citizen. and a resident of the united states for 14 years. and that term is actually a lawyer's term of art. it goes back to the 14th century when parliament passed a statute for -- to deal with the citizenship of her majesty's -- his majesty's subjects born beyond sea. and they said that if they are the children of his majesty's subjects, you know, there on business for england, then the children are natural born citizens. and so that's been a legislative prerogative since, you know, the 14th century. nd almost immediately upon formation of the government in 1789, congress passed the first immigration act that included
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that language and said that for children of parents born abroad, they would be natural born citizens of the united states, which is why this is a segue, but, you know, i wanted to write when obama was president, i wanted to write a piece saying i wish he had been born in kenya. because the truth of the matter is under the law, as it is, he would have been just as eligible to be president as he would have been if he had been in hawaii. and of course now we have -- we have ted cruz who was born abroad. but congress has the power to tweak that definition and in various ways they did for many years, for example, a woman who went abroad and married a foreign man could not transmit her citizenship to a child whereas a man who went abroad and married a foreign woman could. and there still are some of in our nder disparities
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law about americans born abroad. but that's something that's almost completely under the control of congress. and haven't seen an attack on that yet. but, you know, keep your eyes pen. heather: we have a pace, we need to go from one to the other. i want to think about some present cases that are affected by the challenge to birthright citizenship. i recently learned about a group called immigration equality that's based in new york that is looking to defend the children of same sex couples. the state department has started to refuse this citizenship -- derivative citizenship if the child does not share genetic material with a u.s. citizen. so you have a confluence of two
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different federal policies, right? the recognition of same sex marriages as well the concept of derivative citizenship. and i was wondering if you could sort of help us unravel what this might mean for the implications for either same sex marriages or derivative citizenship, where could we be going with a president like this? perhaps to the supreme court. >> yes. that's a mess. i don't know if i can really unravel it much. i would be interested to hear your thoughts on it, too. but yeah. the lawsuit that was filed last year by immigration equality about a group of same sex couples who had -- had children abroad through various different means, some i think -- one family through a surrogate and another family through a donor. and when returning to the u.s., they found out that their children didn't have -- they weren't able to pass their
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citizenship to their children because they didn't have specific d.n.a. i think one case was two twins. and one twin had the d.n.a. of the u.s. citizen parent, and the other twin did not have the d.n.a. of the u.s. citizen parent. and they gave the citizenship to one and not the other which is just like common sense. a little bit ridiculous in that sense because they're both on the birth certificate and it's been recognized by the state in which they were born. but trying to read the tea leaves on where that could go legally is like i have no idea. and i would love to hear your thoughts on that. >> well, as far as ending up -- let me just say at the beginning as far as ending up in front of the current supreme court, there is a quote from dickens that i used to people who say, well, let's go to the supreme court, i would say that of this court, there is not an honest practitioner in its bar who does not say to his
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clients, suffer any wrong that can be done you rather than come here. [laughter] it is not a promising field for civil liberties litigation. now, i will say that last term, the case the court had on what's called a shadow docket, it was not a fully argued case, the case of an arkansas statute and under arkansas law, as in many laws, when a child is conceived by artificial insemination and born to a married couple, legally, the father, the husband of the mother, is considered to be the father and the name goes on the birth certificate. but arkansas health department said we won't do that for same sex couples because we think this is a biological thing. that made no sense at all, right? because the father of a child born of artificial insemination is not biologically related to the child, either. that case came to the supreme
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court, and the court decided without hearing oral argument, they said no. what oberkefell and other same sex cases these same incidents of marriage as are afforded to opposite sex couples, there is not -- they're not -- what justice ginsberg called in oral argument there's not skim milk marriage. and if that principle is followed, then -- this would not stand up. because to the best of my knowledge, i don't know in the immigration and nationality act any discussion of d.n.a. testing, right? and so this would just be a misinterpretation of the statute. now, that being said, we have a different court. we don't have justice kennedy. and in the case i just described, justices gorsuch and thomas dissented and they said this is a perfectly reasonable
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distinction to be made. it doesn't violate equality at all. it's just biology, right? i mean, it really -- i hate to be unfair to my enemies. but it didn't -- [laughter] it did not make any sense to me what they were saying. but we don't know what's going to happen. this case is so -- has been so destabilized by the new appointments and the political controversy that surrounded the kavanaugh appointment that doctrine could go almost anywhere. and i would hope that these people would seek legislative accommodation as well. it may be that there is more hope for things like this in congress now than there is for the judges. >> yes. i would just add that adoption actually for families who adopt a child that they would get u.s. citizenship straight away
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which is an interesting wrinkle that the state department will recognize that and not recognize that. and they did -- it is important to know that they did -- it did happen under obama previously. immigration equality with obama, thinking they would change the state department policy and they didn't. and now they've taken it to the courts. heather: i mean, that is such a good reminder of the way in which these laws and our policies can be very contradictory and inconsistent. and sort of twisted however the situation that fits for who's deciding. speaking of who's deciding, the elephant in the room, i want to sort of help us think about executive power and garrett, you write so beautifully about andrew johnson, lincoln's vice president, a successor, when he was assassinated. you really beautifully captured his temperament and how he handled the responsibilities of reuniting the nation. what did it mean in this moment
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that he was our president and not lincoln? >> you know, i would say that andrew johnson was almost the anti-lincoln and was or was rtainly until recently the unquestioned holder of the title of sort of least stable dividual to hold the presidential office. [laughter] he was -- he was, i think, in my historical diagnosis, he was an alcoholic. one of his biographers defends him against the charge by saying that on sam days, he didn't drink four ounces of whiskey and he was -- you know, visibly sloppy drunk when he took the vice-presidential oath and made a speech which hannibal hamlin, the departing vice president, said i wish the
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earth would simply swallow me up rather than have to -- and he was like, i don't want to say -- hey, i want to say all power comes from the people and starts pointing at members of the cabinet and saying you, mr. stanton, you mr. seward -- who is that guy? yeah, you mr. what's your name. and he was -- he had been military governor of tennessee which gave him definitely an exaggerated sense of what power the president should have. because he hadn't really had to deal with legislation and so forth. he had been a military governor. and he approached being president the same way. it was well-known that the way to get something out of president johnson was flattery. that if you told him he was a great president, if you told him that people loved him, if you told him that people supported him, he would do what you wanted. and he did do that.
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on the other hand, he had to al with a very determined, confiscated -- sophisticated, intelligent republican party in congress that had been there throughout the war. had seen war policy develop and had seen the problems developing from lib rarings, the passage of the 13th amendment and so forth. and his response whenever they questioned him was to call them traitors. and in a very famous speech on february -- on washington's birthday, in 1866, he said, you know, charles sumner and thaddeus stevens, they're traitors just like jefferson davis. we should hang them high, right? this is the president. and of course i'm sure -- i'm honestly quite sure he woke up in the morning and said i said what, you know? but it -- it had a tremendous impact. because he was so
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unpredictable. the civil rights act of 1866, which is really the foundation, the remains of it are the foundation of our civil rights system today, in terms of how it's litigated in court and so forth, was passed as a compromise measure. and the sponsor of that act, senator trumbull, see if anything about this is familiar. went every day to the white house, mr. president, here's what we're doing, what do you think of this? oh, that's a great idea, boss. i'm going to go back and do that. and he would go back and the thing was finally passed and he said, you know, believe me, folks, the president will sign this bill. he has promised me he will sign the bill. the bill goes over to the white house and the president is like i'm not signing this god damn thing. and he vetoes it. now, this is the first time in american history that a serious substantive veto by the president had ever been overturned. it was -- it was an extraordinary rebuke.
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and what happens with esidents who try to be strong, because that's not what lincoln ever did. lincoln didn't try to be strong. lincoln was constantly telling congress, as you wished, i am doing x, right? and they're like, did we wish -- i guess we did. [laughter] and he was always i'm complying with your instructions. i am but your servant. and johnson on the other hand was trying to be strong. and presidents who try to be rong often end up being very weak. and by the election of 1866, when johnson went on a tour around the country, he was kind of incoherent in his speeches, you know. remarkably for a president, to make speeches that didn't make a whole lot of sense. and he probably generated what i consider still to be the
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worst single political headline in the history of the united states where he made a speech saying they've accused me of all kinds of things. what have i done? am i judas iscariot? this runs in "the new york times" on the headline "johnson denies he is judas iscariot." [laughter] you don't want that headline. you lost that news cycle. so by his ineptitude and his igidity and his anger, he is seriously compromised the ability to achieve genuine social change in the slave south. by the time congress took over reconstruction, in 1867, the opportunity to really create a unified southern society had really passed. and the rest of the battle including the impeachment and so forth was just an attempt to
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stop the worst excesses of reconstruction. johnson's impeachment which i was taught as a boy in southern school was an act of vindictiveness by the evil yankees was actually a desperate attempt to get him as commander in chief of the military to allow the union troops in the south to protect african-americans from the new ku klux klan. he had ordered the troops to stay in the barracks, allow riders ters and night to slaughter black people who sought to exercise the right to vote and so forth. and the idea was we have to get him out of there because he's destroying any chance of a solid reconstruction in the south. we have never recovered from the damage that johnson did as president between 1865 and 1869. it's really chilling to see how much damage one person can do when he lacks the experience
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and the temperament and the mental stability to be in charge of a great nation. and i'll just leave at that -- [laughter] heather: well, there are some aspects of that piece of istory that i hope will repeat itself, congress standing strong, impeachment, hopefully ust around the corner. i also want to think about what we do today with an executive that feels free to declare what he wants, to use his office to test all kinds of limitations and expectations of how we think the president should act. trump has recently declared by national emergency to fund the border wall. if o you think, mazzin,
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this extra -- exercise of executive power is being spoppeded -- responded to by the people you cover? in many ways we've talked mostly about the higher ups. but maybe give us a sense on the ground of how people are affected by this. >> yeah. i'm still recovering from that. that was incredible. yeah. the national emergency. that happened. yes. a lot of our work is speaking to people like loralai on the front lines dealing with these executive orders as they come down, responding to them, they're incredibly busy. there's been a lot going on. stuff like the national emergency doesn't affect us as much in new york city but there are a number of different executive actions that have kind of ripped through a lot of immigrant communities in new york city. the one that comes to mind first is probably the travel ban.
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i'm sure you guys have heard about it. an executive order signed by the president a week in his presidency that banned citizens from seven mostly muslim majority countries. it went through the courts. but, you know, it arrived to the supreme court, and the third iteration of it was upheld and in effect today. and yemeni new yorkers across the city are being impacted by it. a really horrible war happening in yemen right now. and there are a lot of family members of yemenis living in new york who -- in refugee camps in jabudi two years ago would have been able to join their father, their husband, their son, whoever it may be, that they have in new york city and now they just can't. and there's this very complibted waiver process that's very -- complicated waiver process that's very opaque and nobody understands is subject to a lot of legal battles as well. so the travel ban is definitely something that we're seeing a lot of. the public charge rule, i'm not sure if you guys are familiar with that.
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but basically it's a rule that came down from the department of homeland security expanding what's known as public charge which means when somebody applies for a naturalization or a green card, they're questioned about whether or not they will become a public charge. so there's certain programs that -- if you've been subscribed to could affect your application so that's been expanded. and they now want to include more programs in that programs like food stamps, people in the city might rely on. and that's actually been a really hard thing for us to cover. we did a piece about how writing about public charges saying that they're considering public charge led to drops in enrollment from immigrant community. that of just fear that this is -- you know, if i keep using w.i.c. i'm not going to be able to get a green card down the line. so we're trying to grapple with like how do we responsibly cover these hectic decisions that are coming down, these leaks that are coming out in a
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responsible way? we're not fear mongering but keeping people informed at the same time. so that's definitely been really difficult. and just trump's cabinet at large has done a lot to shift immigration policy. i think for a very long time. like based on what you've said about what can happen in the space of four years, i think jeff sessions during his time as attorney general really revolutionized the immigration courts and put in a lot of different measures, very, very specific targeted measures that probably came from people that studied this issue very closely that made it very difficult for immigration judges to do anything but deport people, have pushed back cases so -- to the place where the backlog is going above one million cases nationally so this is a backlog of immigration cases waiting to be heard. like a million people in the country who are just in limbo waiting. yeah. just really undermining the
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kind of very -- the core of the courts. so there's been a lot -- and i think the fear right now, of all immigrant communities, to combat fake misinformation about things that they can do and things they can't do and things that i.c.e. can do, things that i.c.e. can't do. and people are extremely worried at all times. so it's been a challenge for sure. heather: thank you both so much. i want to turn to the audience and give you all an opportunity to ask our experts here your questions. we will need to pass -- please -- for the mic so >> as an emigration attorney in the room, my questions are actually for professor epps. i'm almost scared to ask this
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question aloud because i'm afraid it will give the government ideas but i would like to go back to you what said the exception to birthright being an invading army. since the fall, the administration has been using this rhetoric saying that there's an invasion at our borders. and as someone who goes to the border regularly to volunteer, it's very traumatic to hear that because it's not an invasion. it's not an army. at first i was thinking oh, this is because of the primaries. it's political. but now we also have the migeragse protection protocols, protection in quotes because it's not protecting anyone. i'm wondering if it is possible that the administration will use this idea of an invading army exception to limit birthright citizenship that might be coming out of the central american exodus right now?
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>> i think it is important to oferstand that the rhetoric "the invading army" has been a mainstay of immigration law since the 19th century. caseeason the travel ban came out the way it did was that there is generations of immigration-law precedent saying the power to control our borders is unlimited. it must be because otherwise, foreign countries would send immigrants and they would take over, likening immigration to an invading army. so that entire, rhetorical frame is already in place. the other problem with immigration law is the extraordinary amount of discretion it gives to the
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executive. thought that when the travel ban case got to the supreme court, they -- the administration would win simply es, the the staturt chief justice said in his statement that the statute exude authority. they give the executive so much authority. so rhetorically, yes. now whether they could seek in theseay to proclaim caravans and so forth to be a military situation, i don't know. it had not happened today as of the time we got here. [laughter] but we see ourselves moving in this direction.
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the entire point of the national emergency is apparently to move money into so-called military construction projects, which is the wall, which until 90 days ago really didn't seem like a military construction project. essential to support our military mission on the border. so the ongoing militarization of the southern border and the immigration on the southern border, the fact of the matter is, a lot of what the trump administration is doing in a lot of areas is really lame brained. it is blowing up in their face. trump is af areas, lot like wiley coyote -- wile e. coyote, he sets up a roadblock and it blows up when the roadrunner comes by the area.
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but not when it comes to immigration. do? can we and he recently made the statement, i would be happy if there was another another immigrant to the united states. so i think they are moving forward on this in a lot of ways and doing it very effectually. youn't know how, legally, could use that but i certainly expect to see that analogy. and the problem is, it gets deference from the courts also. when you say military, when you say national security, the courts are very reluctant. it can happen. it happened to bush in the guantanamo cases, but courts are very reluctant to substitute their judgment for his. so i doubt that miller is listening to this c-span program. [laughter]
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>> we have a new attorney general who may or may not approach things in the way our old attorney general does. change of senior leadership in the department of justice mean for some of these issues? will there be likely changes in the way laws are interpreted, will there be changes in the way justice pursues its mandate? >> they have done some backgrounders on all the and not manys, people's views on emigration match jeff sessions' views on emigration. it was an important issue for him for a long time. i don't think he will be as
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proactive as he was, but the damage is pretty much done as far as immigration courts are concerned. even if the state's quell remains, it doesn't appear the ag will pull back any of the things sessions did. he could write decisions to overturn sessions's, but that doesn't appear to be the case. like quotas, immigration judges now have quotas that they have to meet over a certain amount of time. i think that is going to stay in place. and tools that were available to immigration judges to speed up cases and provide relief in an easier way have been removed. it doesn't look like they are going to get reinstated. as far as immigration courts are concerned, i think you're going to see more of the same. barr and just add that sessions are quite different animals. previousa part of
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republican administrations that had relatively generous views on emigration. he is not someone for whom xenophobia has been an animating characteristic. on the other hand, he is coming in, he works for the president and he is going to have a lot on his plate, a lot of things going on. will it be a high priority of his to soften immigration policy? my guess is, not in and of itself. on the other hand, if i were immigrantsning and rights lobbying group, i would not assume you are going to be received at the justice department the same as you would have been if sessions was still there. because barr is a very conservative guy. he is not the person i would have chosen to be the attorney general, but he is not sessions. sessions was a person who at the
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time he was named was not credible to be an attorney general. barr knows the justice department, he knows how these policies work. if advocacy and pressure could be brought to bear on him from the hill, it might at the margins produce positive results. enemy,ssions was the let's not kid ourselves. i don't think barr should be viewed the same way. we will see what he does. >> does that make sense? >> definitely. >> my understanding is that our law provides for refugees to apply for asylum, and that includes with respect and dignity. you just mentioned softening the system. i wonder, is there some
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legislation we could propose that would just honor the law, carry out the law if the law says yes, with dignity and respect. professor epps: the asylum cases a really interesting one. that is still pending. int is one of the few areas my experience with the immigration and nationality act, where the act is first of all clear and secondly, relatively humane. an immigrant in the united states shall be , whethero apply asylum or not he or she is found at a port of entry. always amazed when congress writes a sentence that is clear. [laughter] but there it is. so the administration issued a regulation saying, pursuant to
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the statute we will not allow them to apply for asylum status if they are not at a port of entry. judgeoes to court, the enjoins the policy and says it completely contradicts the statute. it is not a constitutional issue, congress said to do it this way and you are not doing it. that is great, but notice what happens next. it goes to the supreme court, the administration rushes to the supreme court and says, please let us put the policy into effect while they cases pending. and the court says, as it should, let me back up and say, it goes to the ninth circuit first and the ninth circuit writes an opinion to-one, but the majority says no, you can't do this, look what the statute says, what is the matter with you? are you stupid? and the author of that opinion authorge jay bybee, the of the torture memos under the bush administration, in the
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early days after 9/11, basically saying unless you are causing organ failure, you can do all these things to detainees. this is not what i would call the aclu poster guy. [laughter] and he writes this opinion saying, what, are you stupid? get out of here. but it goes to the supreme court , and the administration asks, please stay this so we can put the policy in place while you consider it. and the court says, as it rightly should, no, you lost below, the injunction is in place. but the vote was 5-4. ur justices were convinced by this argument that the statute literally didn't mean what it said, or that the administration can change it. so i think we have a problem. the idea of getting amelio to
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rative legislation to this congress, i think hearings and advocacy would be good. that mcconnell would let it through the senate strikes me as unlikely, but there is a lot of education that needs to be done before, because we are moving in the other direction, we are moving toward lawlessness as far as asylum goes. and what most americans don't realize is that we not only have obligations under our own statutes, but i asylum as a matter of international rights law. we are bound by all these things which we are completely ignoring. so we have to fight to stay where we are, and anything that you think of that could be advocated, it is all for the good to humanize and ring to the
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four -- and bring to the fore this issue. people are dying, and we as a country are ignoring the law. >> some immigration judges have tried to reinterpret the decisions by jeff sessions. jeff sessions family said that due to -- that victims of domestic violence could no longer claim asylum in the u.s. but some have found creative ways to work around that by viewing, i think it was one case where they viewed all women as a in guatemala, i believe there was. anyway, they found ways to get i think theresue is creative learning around this
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, but the professor best laid it out. to what extent could we see different states and cities go separate ways on this, disregarding some of what is decided that the federal level? sanctuary cities or states suing over the border wall, even if we legally still have the federal framework, to what extent could we see states and cities that have larger immigration populations disregarding it? mr. sidahmed: they are trying. a lot of cities and states are pushing back against drunk. numbertistics about the of people obama deported versus trump deported has been bandied about, cities and states are
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working so hard to prevent the trump administration from being able to deport people. there is a lot of things local police departments have been doing around not cooperating with immigration authorities. there is a lot of things other city and state agencies have done to protect people. there is certain legislation that has been stopped for a long time in new york state, like recently the dream act was state,in th new york providing undocumented students with tuition aid and driver licenses. a lot of people in new york state want to provide undocumented people with access to driver's licenses. a lot of times what is happening in rural parts of the state is, people drive without a license, they get pulled over, they end up in some kind of law enforcement situation and get important. even close to the canadian
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border, local police department will call customs and border protection at the northern border and tell them to comment translate for them. that oftentimes leads to them ending up in ice detention. and they have close relationships. kindration enforcement is of an up state and city divide on the issue of immigration enforcement. at some point there isn't much that can be done if you are really trying to find ways around the public charge issue. theat city council has been holding so many hearings and trying to do a lot of things, putting out resolutions that say, we do not support this, we oppose this. but fundamentally if it goes into place, it will impact a lot of people in new york state. there is not a whole lot the city and state can do then. as sheo epps:
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was coming down the pike and it is one that i am less pessimistic about than others. the whole issue of sanctuary cities, when you analyze it what it basically means is, we as a city are not going to be an adjunct to the federal immigration system. we will not routinely report people that we encounter as part of law enforcement if we think they are undocumented. we will not hold prisoners in our jails who are entitled to release. they have this thing called ice detainers, where you arrest someone, charges are dropped, under the constitution you are supposed to let them go. holdce detainers says, no, them for another 48 hours to check if they are a citizen. it's a gross violation of the constitution. called 1373tatute
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that makes it illegal, purports to make it illegal, for cities to have policies of not cooperating with ice. the question is, is that constitutional? a lot of conservative jurisprudence over the past 20 years has been built up around the idea that we are going to stop the federal government sending these mandates to the states, or what is called commandeering the states. and this is a classic commandeering. detainers,, the ice it is not simply that you are violating the rights of people. if you hold a few american citizens with no warrant in jail for 48 hours, you are looking at major civil rights damages. the federal government does not pay the states or the cities the cost of jailing these people. some places like san francisco, it is nearly half $1 million a year that would cost to hold
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these people on the ice detainers. it doesn't pay or defend or indemnify these cities or counties for the cost of the damages. the federal government says, suck it up, we tell you to do this. there was a case last term that has nothing to do with immigration, it has to do with sports betting. and in this case, at the behest of the ncaa and the nfl, the federal government had passed a statute that said no state shall legalize gambling on sports, because the idea was supposedly that this will corrupt the purity of american sport. [laughter] if you can walk with me that far. [laughter] and the supreme court struck that down in an opinion by justice alito, one of the most conservative justices, who basically said, to tell a state
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it may not have certain policies is gross violation of the 10th amendment. and i was reading this and i was thinking, do you realize what you just said? perfectlyalmost covers the situation of the sanctuary city. so as this comes along, the court is going to be caught, i think the court may be a lot more ambivalent about saying the federal government can order local governments to do things, because when the composition of congress or when the white house to aes, that could lead lot of things, like you shall seize guns, you shall do x. so the sanctuary state battle is very interesting. and i think everything being done at the local level in the sanctuary city area, in new york, for example and other arees now, immigrants getting free legal representation, which is not required by the constitution. things like this are very effectual, they are very
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important and really having an impact on the ongoing debate. a smallt to make comment. i found -- i think we found this little optimistic island here. good night, everybody. [laughter] we have plenty of historical precedent of movement or changes of federal legislation that comes at the state level. prohibition, women's vote, same-sex marriage, and now we see this going on with legalization of marijuana as well as the dream act. vet --s plenty of good good evidence that states are able to push back against at centralized government. >> thanks for the enlightening conversation. i would be curious to hear your impressions of the prospects of this citizen the spaceship
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question on the census, -- the citizenship question on that senses, where their historical precedent in new york city or elsewhere -- whether there is historical president in new york city or elsewhere in the united states? >> what is important to understand is two things. the senses is required by the constitution. it is quite unusual, actually. the censusntries, is held as they are deemed necessary. there has to be a new one every 10 years. it is explicitly linked to congressional representation. and the phrase used in the constitution for the census is, actual enumeration, which of course can be read to mean, you really have to count. say,he language does not
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you have to count citizens, you have to count everybody. and in 1787 there was a large number, a huge population, probably more people who weren't citizens one way or another than were, whether they were slaves or immigrants or other things. you counted them all. but the question is, does that mean you can't ask about citizenship? the argument is, and the statistics are clear, that if you do that, you will produce a less accurate count, you will know less, you will have less knowledge about how many people live in a given state, than if you don't ask it. so there is a strong argument to be made that this is an actual enumeration, and you should be doing an actual enumeration. there is a secondary argument to be made, and people who have litigated this case in your cap
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done a wonderful job of simply bringing out the evidence on the that this question is not being put in place for any reason other than politics. so the question then becomes, does that contaminate the result? the problem hand, that the anti-question people face is that, there was a citizenship question on the census up until, i think, 1960. so this is not some radical innovation. and the final problem with this is, this case is, at its core, political. this case is about who holds political power. and if you look at the track record of this court in cases like that, it is pretty mixed.
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shelby county for example. think we will get any ruling against partisan gerrymandering out of this court. i think the campaign finance cases, this court has a certain approach to politics, which is basically thelet powerful forces do what they want. so it is up in the air. the case has been lived -- has been litigated extremely well, and the record that has been produced and the opinion of the district judge in new york is a brilliant piece of work. i think we have time for one more question. i don't know if this is going fielde its way into left , but up until recently i
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thought birthright citizenship was a given, like it is not a conversation, not a question. and i think about the administration's reaction to puerto ricans on the island after the hurricane. and it seemed like puerto rico is not a part of this country. and there is this thing, i'm puerto rican, i was born here, i don't think my citizenship is a question, at least at the moment. but i had family that was born on the island then considered themselves americans. and i just wonder if this issue we are talking about now, if people have been thinking about what the possibilities are for ,erritories of the country commonwealths, pacific island rico, ites, and puerto is in debt and the administration thinks it is a real drag on the country, will carrielationist thinking
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over into those kinds of over into -- carry those kinds of scenarios? >> it is perfectly clear that right now,ve branch puerto rico is not regarded as really a part of the united states. there were leaked quotes out of the white house of president wantp saying, i don't one dime going to puerto rico. and he is talking about emergency funding, funding that keeps people alive. and by comparison to what was done after hurricane harvey in texas, it is just simply not -- on the other hand, and it is really important not to be too downhearted about o a lot of things. on the other hand, the greatest
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force i find from my limited study of immigration history, moving usst force in to in your terms more generous policies, has been family. families, families come here. the reasons that a lot of the anti-latino policies that are being tried to put in policy and the south, and california for example you remember pete wilson in the 1990's who booked the booked theibility entire credibility of the republican party of california around opposing immigration, not realizing that even undocumented immigrants in the united states have anson uncles and children who vote. and puerto ricans on the island can't vote for president, but there are a lot of puerto ricans in the u.s., continental u.s., who can. and i would say there are
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probably people in the white house who would love to take away puerto rican citizenship, but they are a long way from being able to do that. and i think after the 2018 elections, the prospects for real political action around things like this is pretty good. aboutnd of optimistic puerto rico in that sense. i do think the connections of -- connections between puerto rico and the mainland are now so deep. you saw in florida during the legislative races, one of the candidates who was facing the fact that a large number of puerto rican people had come to his district as a result of the hurricane said, i don't think they ought to let puerto ricans vote. , they the end of that day state republican party had issued an apology, they had said we repudiate this, we don't know what this guy was smoking,
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[laughter] because it is politically suicidal. friend ofs the generous immigration policies and we need to keep doing it, much more than courts, much more than the executive branch. may be fooling myself, but i'm optimistic on that particular issue. littlent to give a context on the status of puerto rico. 1898 was a funny year for the u.s. on a global stage. we required a lot of global spaces and they became part of america, but they are not states. o we do we do, what do with the people who were born there? so we gave them kind of a funny status. we said they were nationals so they could immigrate and move across state borders and into
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the continental united states, but they weren't quite citizens. we may church a draw that boundary. so there is this weird limbo we continue to maintain. part of the reason that we did that, we said there would be nationals, is extend to some of our federal policies to these areas, immigration being one of them. we wanted to make these places places of border control so that who would come into the continental united states couldn't use puerto rico, the philippines, hawaii as a backdoor to the country. that's maybe a sad note to end on. i want to use a more optimistic twist to this. i like what you remind us of, the power of families. i also want to add to that, the coincidence, the unexpectedness of laws and how they become interpreted in the eyes of immigrants. i am going to tell you a story
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about the visa lottery. the visa lottery was created into policy at the behest of irish-americans, who were peopleing that their under 1965 would be -- were being disadvantaged. they were not getting enough of the visas, they were not able to use the family unification clause to bring people into the country. day, as historic contributors to america, should have a right to those things. visaw have two kinds of lotteries, open to anybody around the world to apply for. there are visa days around the country at internet cafés for people to sit and apply in hopes they would be one of the lucky few. the greatest places of sending -- they recognized places that are often underrepresented. one of the greatest places of human migration, turns out, are
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places in africa. who knew that the irish visa lottery would be empowering americans to come into the country. the randomness of design, the randomness of people's action. i hope that leaves us on a more positive note that we can all go out there and change things. [applause] announcer: we are happy to announce the winners of this year's c-span studentcam video documentary competition, answering the question, what does it mean to be american. we received almost 3000 entries from 48 states with more than 6000 students. congratulations to all our winners. our first prize middle school winners are edith chan and hannah lee. industry --food companies like burger king,
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wendy's, and kfc. fast food impacts and reflects our society in so many more ways than we realize. it is something that fits with our nation's values and landscape and is something that makes us america. announcer: the first prize high school east goes to these students from winter park high florida, winter park, for honoring america's right to a free press. they are also the fan favorite winners and won an extra $500. >> being an american is about so much more than national pride. it is about the freedom that allows countries to function in a fair and just manner. >> we often forget the important role that journalism plays. announcer: the first prize high school central winners are jacob salmon, matthew moran, and riley vander hart from urbandale high
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school for fighting for a better tomorrow. >> did you know it is almost the 50th anniversary of the tinker v. des moines supreme court case? it helped extend first amendment rights to students. in protest of the vietnam war, john and mary beth tinker were armbands, leading to ---conception -- leading to announcer: this award is for what it means to be american. >> we often lose sight of what america was founded on. one of the most important ideals was that every man is represented. this is what makes us american, the concept that everyone represent a by government gets a say. announcer: the grand prize winners of $5,000 are mason from texas for their video what it means to be american. >> our american institution is
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one of the most unique in the world where students have powers to hold government accountable rather than sit around and complain. the greatest thing about the issue of corruption in the united states is that citizens are vocal about doing it. in most cases, citizens are willing to recognize the nation 's flaws even when politicians don't. announcer: c-span has given away millions of dollars in prizes to the studentcam documentary competition. the top 21 entries will air on c-span in april and you can watch every documentary online on announcer: we will show you a recent campaign stop with democratic presidential candidate beto o'rourke, followed by jerome powell on the u.s. economy and the fed's inte


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