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Alberto Gonzales on the 14th Amendment

By Ed O'Keefe
Alberto Gonzales
(Photo by Brent Humphreys)

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales writes in this Sunday's Washington Post about his opposition to conservative proposals to amend the 14th Amendment.

"Such a change is difficult to carry out, as it should be, requiring a new amendment ratified by three-quarters of the states," Gonzales writes in a column posted early by

"I do not support such an amendment," he writes. "Based on principles from my tenure as a judge, I think constitutional amendments should be reserved for extraordinary circumstances that we cannot address effectively through legislation or regulation. Because most undocumented workers come here to provide for themselves and their families, a constitutional amendment will not solve our immigration crisis. People will certainly continue to cross our borders to find a better life, irrespective of the possibilities of U.S. citizenship."

"As the nation's former chief law enforcement officer and a citizen who believes in the rule of law, I cannot condone anyone coming into this country illegally," he states. "However, as a father who wants the best for my own children, I understand why these parents risk coming to America -- especially when there is little fear of prosecution. If we want to stop this practice, we should pass and enforce comprehensive immigration legislation rather than amend our Constitution."

Gonzales concludes by calling for immigration reform that "complements our national security policy as well as our economic policy," promotes "commerce and strengthen(s) our economy" and that is "practical, enforceable and capable of effective implementation."

Thoughts? The comments section is all yours.

By Ed O'Keefe  | August 19, 2010; 5:30 PM ET
Categories:  From The Pages of The Post  
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Laws are already in place for immigration, And if any new laws are inacted they should be laws that punish the established leadership that will not allow those laws to be enforced. I'd start with a fence pole, bucket of Tar and some feathers and the first person to call these law breakers undocumented, Thats when I'd use the feathers..

Posted by: jack77 | August 19, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

I do not think this is really about the 14th amendment. It is about denying the children of the immigrants federal and state assistance.

I am amazed at the heightened sensitivity of the opposition to the feelings of the 9/11 families. It is such a deviation from the attacks on the concept of "empathy", and the total insensitivity to the needs of children.

It seems to be a situational sensitivity which can be called up whenever the occasion requires it.

Posted by: bewildered1 | August 19, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

The people who lived here before Columbus came didn't invite any of us to come steal their land. But we did. And then we invited more of us over and we took the rest of their land.
But we were white. These people who are coming here uninvited are brown. Makes a difference.

Posted by: joel_franz | August 19, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe it, but I actually agree with Gonzales on this issue. The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is probably the most important Amendment to ever have been ratified as it basically made the "Bill of Rights" applicable to the states, which up to that point in time could do what the heck they wanted to oppress minorities and women. And, they did. Only white males were somewhat protected as they had the right to vote, but even then the states oppressed groups of whites such as Mormons, abolitionists, etc., when majorities of white citizens were opposed to them and their beliefs.

In proposing the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments (the civil war amendments), the debates in Congress made clear that the purpose of these Amendments was to limit the powers of the states in specific instances. Thus, "tenthers" are dead wrong, when they make their argument that all powers not given to the federal government are specifically reserved to the states and the people by the Tenth Amendment. This is so because they fail to take into account the broad reach of the civil war Amendments and the very real limitations they place on the powers of the states. "Tenthers" also fail to take into account the necessary and proper clause of Article I of the Constitution, which provides that Congress shall have the power:

"To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof."

All laws "necessary and proper" is a very broad grant of power to Congress.

Posted by: Caliguy55 | August 19, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

I too, find it hard to believe that I am in agreement with General Gonzalez. There are enough immigration laws on the books and the federal government needs to enforce those laws. We need to seal our borders and come down hard on people that employ illegal workers. Americans too, must take those jobs that they have refused to work in the past.

Posted by: hgreblo | August 20, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

We do not need an amendment to end birthrith citizenship. Professor Petr Schuck of that far right law school Yale in that far right newspaper the New York Times noted that congress has the right to confer citizenship and all we need in congress to pass a law that simply ends birth right citizenship. It was printed in last Friday's paper and everyone can read it.

Posted by: jeffreed | August 20, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

But Congress may pass statutory clarifications of the original intent of the proposers and ratifiers of the ill fitting portion of the 14th Amendment that NOW threatens our national security.

We will lose the Islamic "Battle-of-the-Babies" in their multi-generation plan to conquer the west if we do no remove this error that has been tolerable in the past.

Even if it is established that "Anchor Babies" NEVER were truly Constitutional
that is no reason why we should not or cannot graciously naturalize those family loving, good working, neighbors that contribute much to our culture and prosperity. It seems foolish for US citizens to offend them when we can profitably embrace them.

Our US PROHIBITION on recreational drugs other than alcohol has unintendedly caused our nation great suffering, much as our experiment with ALCOHOL PROHIBITION did. It is evident that, as a people, we mature in time. Look at the GREAT progress we have made with alcohol and tobacco abuse that has come about just because we understood that the abuse was rude and stupid.

Now the financial cream of our economy is being dumped upon our neighbors to the south and it is poisoning their homelands with violence and corruption more significant in harm than many actual wars.

Posted by: Russell_P_Davis | August 20, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

I can think of no more "extraordinary circumstances" than the invasion of the United States by illegal aliens. Unfortunately, the majority of illegals do not contribute to the U.S. economically or culturally, but instead are a drain that taxpayers cannot and should not support. The 14th Amendment was not intended for use as a means of lifelong welfare and unearned benefits by people who break our laws to be here.

Posted by: wmpowellfan | August 21, 2010 4:12 AM | Report abuse

that is a weird picture

Posted by: jiji1 | August 23, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I never thought I would agree with anything Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has to say, but I do believe he got it right with respect to the Fourteenth Amendment. He would probably disagree with my contention, however, that the latest drive to amend the Fourteenth Amendment vindicates my longstanding judgment that ALL Immigration law is based on a racist desire to keep out those we fear.

Posted by: phburris | August 23, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

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