Immigration Essay Sparks Anger at Rollins College

Denise-Marie Balona, Orlando Sentinel, March 24, 2011

Jamie Pizzi, a freshman at Rollins College, said she never meant to come across as racist or hateful in the opinion piece she wrote for the campus newspaper last week.

But the essay that’s sharply critical of immigrant children has spurred an outcry from some students and faculty.

And while she’s upset by all the negative attention–including nasty e-mails and comments left on The Sandspur website–she said she stands by her writing.

“I don’t regret what I wrote,” Pizzi said. “I regret it was taken that way.”

Pizzi’s essay questions whether babies born in the United States to illegal immigrants should be automatically given U.S. citizenship. It’s accompanied by a picture of a green alien that has apparently taken a guy’s clothing and TV.

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The strong reaction from faculty, students and others prompted a big gathering Thursday afternoon in the Bush Science Center auditorium. An estimated 200 to 300 people turned out–a significant crowd for the small private college in Winter Park, organizers said.

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Although members of the paper’s staff said they were shocked at the criticism the piece drew–two faculty members even blasted it in e-mails they distributed campus-wide, they said–they were also glad so many people turned out for Thursday’s discussion.

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How would you feel if a stranger broke into your home, began to eat your food, wear your clothes and watch your television? I am assuming you would not be the slightest bit welcoming to this intruder. Your home and all its contents were purchased with the finances you strenuously worked to obtain.

Under the 14th Amendment, birthright citizenship allows a pregnant foreigner to waltz right over our borders, have a baby, and the baby receives the benefits of being an American citizen.

These benefits, of course, are footed by our tax dollars–not the dollars of their primarily non-tax-paying parents. These “anchor babies,” as they are commonly referred, gain full citizenship from simply being born on American soil, and they are entitled to all the same benefits as you and I, including: free public school educations, financial aid for college and even Medicaid.

The 14th Amendment was adopted in 1863 and was a repudiation of the 1857 Supreme Court ruling of Dred Scott v. Sanford that those of African descent could never become citizens. The amendment applied to “all persons born or naturalized in The United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.”

The country is divided on the decision of whether to remove the law or not. Some claim it takes more than walking across the border to become a citizen, while others say intolerance compels people’s desire to eliminate it.

Migration scholars report that the desire for better-paying jobs drives migrants to America, not the citizen status for their children.

When our own citizens are struggling to afford adequate health care and public schools become more and more crowded, we should not even consider keeping birthright citizenship. Last year there were a reported 11.2 million illegal immigrants in the Unites States.

Eliminating the law would cut down the number of illegal immigrants drastically. I do not at all feel that it is fair that these children receive automatic citizenship simply for being born here.

Who even pays for the hospital bill when the child is born? In October of last year, illegal immigrant’s unpaid hospital bills totaled $35.7 million.

When my grandmother migrated here from Germany after World War II, she had to work tremendously hard to gain citizenship. She needed to have both a legitimate reason for coming here and an established citizen willing to pay, house and mentor her. She was tested extensively on her knowledge of American history and the English language before she could gain permanent citizenship.

In comparison to my grandmother, it offends me how easily these “anchor babies” can enter the country without paying their way, while my grandmother did it without the help of the government.

America has a crucial decision to make: continue to attract those who want a free ride, or return to a time where America attracted only the best and the brightest to its golden shores.

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