Comment: The 14th Amendment must be protected

Steve Jackson

Elephant in the Room
with Steve Jackson

HONOLULU—Yesterday, Charles Djou posted a letter in the Wall Street Journal supporting the 14th Amendment, a piece of legislation pushed by Republicans following the Civil War. Back then, abolitionists and the fledgling Republican Party were derisively called “Black Republicans,” for supporting legislation meant to provide equal opportunities for minorities.

The 14th Amendment passed in 1868 overruled the controversial Dread Scott decision, which held that blacks could not be citizens of the United States.

Abraham Lincoln, the founder of the modern Republican Party, recognized the need to provide legitimacy to many of the immigrant families who served the nation during its time of distress. Today, many immigrants continue to serve in times of distress, serving the nation’s armed services in return for citizenship. His support for the 14th Amendment shows recognition of the many people, past and present, who continue to sacrifice for our society.

To be sure, there are problems with illegal immigration that need to be dealt with in a comprehensive manner. ABC News reported in February 2009 that Phoenix became the kidnapping capital of the world—it was number two in 2010 behind Mexico. Kidnapping numbers of that immensity and crime rates cannot be disregarded as coincidence in an area so near the border.

Many citizens in Arizona called for the controversial legislation enacted this year. Those citizens witness the problems first hand along the border. The residents of Arizona and the border states have a right to demand proper enforcement of federal legislation. They pay taxes to the government, and in return they expect that the basic need of individual security should be provided.

Their need for protection, however, does not necessitate revision to an amendment added to the Constitution over a hundred years ago. The 14th Amendment has provided the United States many benefits and immigration has been a staple since our inception.

Djou’s claim that “it is simply unrealistic to believe that we can fix the problem by amending the Constitution” hits the mark and shows his freethinking tendencies. Many Republicans may not share this opinion, but his decision to do what he believes is right should be lauded for its courage and sensibility.

At this stage in government, America needs leaders who can work together to provide comprehensive solutions to the problems we face. Hopefully, Djou can work with his colleagues and the president to provide a sensible, logical solution to the problems our fellow citizens are facing along the border.

To read the full text of Djou’s letter published in The Wall Street Journal, click here.