Kent Conwell: Congress without backbone

Published 10:19 am Monday, April 11, 2011

Notice came out a couple of weeks back that almost a quarter of a million Mexican citizens along its northern border had disappeared.

I’m not making this up. The 2010 Mexican census stated that down in Praxedis G. Guerrora, a border town east of Juarez, 61 percent of the 3,616 homes are uninhabited, as in empty, vacant, unfilled.

And Reynosa follows with 33% and then Juarez with 23% of its half million homes. All abandoned, left to crumble. That’s a heap of Mexican citizens bidding adios to their homeland.

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Well, I have news for those wise census officials and their missing citizens. Those 230,000 Hispanics ain’t disappeared. They’re in my back yard, and my neighbor’s, and his neighbor’s.

I can’t blame anyone for wanting to get away from the violence wracking Mexico along the border. At the same time, I blame our own Congress for doing nothing over the last several years to stem the arterial spurting of illegal immigrants into the United States, regardless of reasons.

And I hold our Texas legislators as much to blame. They didn’t even have the guts to make an effort as Arizona. They dump it off on the feds, claiming the big boys up there prevent any local efforts.

In 2000, the U.S. census bureau claimed eight million illegals lived in the U.S. In 2010, it was up to an estimable 12 to 20  million. That is a 50 to 150 percent jump. In fact, a Hispanic columnist claims it is over 50 million as of today.

To put controls on this tsunami of illegals flooding us won’t be easy, but surely, those jokers up there in the legislature or Congress who were slick enough to con a majority of votes should be slick enough to come up with a solution.

The obvious starting point to a simpleton like me is to admit they ain’t no way we’re going to send 23-50 million illegals back.

That said, where do we start?

First, let’s understand what caused it.

As usual, it was a screw up in Washington.

The Civil Right’s Act of 1866 (read it if you don’t believe me) declared that people born in the United States and not subject to any foreign power are entitled to be citizens without regard to race, color, or previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude.

It does not say folks can pop in from Mexico, Canada, China, or Pluto, have a baby, and it is a U.S. citizen. Why can’t they? Because they are already citizens of another country. You know, A FOREIGN POWER! Get it?

A similar provision was written a few months later in the proposed  Fourteenth Amendement to the United States Constitution. Section One states in the beginning: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thererof, are citizens etc…”

To repeat, the Civil Rights Act of 1866 granted U.S. citizenship to all persons born in the United States, as long as those persons were not subject to a foreign power.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know babies are subject to the whims of their parents. If their parents are citizens of another country who come here illegally, that means they are not subject to U.S. jurisdiction, but that of the country in which they hold citizenship. They do not go to the American Embassy if they have problems, but they go to the Mexican Embassy or the Russian or the Polish, or whatever.

How did this misinterpretation come about? Simple! Some of the 1866 framers of the Fourteen Amendment were probably lawyers who tried to get fancy with words and stuck in the vacuous expression ‘jurisdiction thereof’ instead of using plain, simple words like ‘not subject to a foreign power.

If we were to obey that intended precept, the inflow of illegal immigration would decrease dramatically. No citizenship? Then, Amigo, let’s vamoose our los extremos out of here.

But what about those youngsters who’ve been here for years, who are in school, some of whom have children of their own?

If they want to become legal citizens, give those who have been here five years or longer and completed high school a temporary residence for six more years during which they must complete two years in the military or two years at a technical school with a certificate or a four-year college degree.

And we have to accept the fact that many illegals will be with us forever, but at least, this way we have a start of putting some kind of control on it.

Now all of this is based upon the assumption that those who conned us into electing them will take steps to seal the stinking border, and that I am afraid is a lost cause because of the rampant congressional and legislative disease, ‘Deterioratous of the Backbonis’.

Don’t forget Pogo’s edict, ‘we’ve met the enemy and he is us.’

Kent Conwell of Port Neches is a retired educator. Contact Conwell at He blogs at