The notion of history repeating itself is usually viewed as a negative statement, but some history is worth repeating because we might learn and be guided by it.
In last week's 5-4 ruling by the Supreme Court rejecting the Trump administration's claim that adding a question about whether a person is a U.S. citizen was for the purpose of helping to enforce the Voting Rights Act, Chief Justice John Roberts left the door open for the administration to come up with a more compelling reason. Whether this can be done in time for the 2020 Census is doubtful without an extension for document printing. The Court is on summer recess and won't re-visit the issue, if at all, until its next session.
Late Tuesday, however, a lawyer for the Trump administration said it is proceeding with the printing of the 2020 Census without adding a citizenship question.
The ultimate irony is that people employed to ask the questions must be U.S. citizens, or legal residents. A look at history should provide reason enough to include a citizenship question.
Since 1820, a question about U.S. citizenship has been on census forms with few exceptions. It was left off in 1960 and 2010.
Proof of citizenship is required when applying for most jobs in the country. When I travel internationally and return home, there are two lines at Immigration and Customs. One is for noncitizens and the other for citizens. A form requires me to state my citizenship and show my U.S. passport. To apply for a U.S. passport I must provide proof of citizenship.
In other countries, a stamp on my passport not only limits the amount of time I am allowed to stay, but also prohibits me from employment. In the UK, I can't use the National Health Service because I am not a citizen. Other nations have a right to pass and enforce such laws. Only in America do we pass laws and then allow people to get away with ignoring them.
Here, a definition might be helpful. Dictionary.com defines "citizen" as a person who is "a native or naturalized member of a state or nation who owes allegiance to its government and is entitled to its protection (distinguished from alien)."
That last part "distinguished from alien" is key. How does one determine whether a person is an alien, or a U.S. citizen, with the entitlements and benefits that go with citizenship? By asking the question, of course.
There is no right to be in America and no right to become a citizen, especially when some people break our laws to get here and then break them again to remain by failing to show up for a court hearing on the legitimacy of their asylum claims and ignoring deportation orders, which are issued after giving due process. The Trump administration says 2,000 are breaking deportation laws and avoiding forced removal from the country. President Trump says he will order ICE raids as early as next week to return them to their countries.
Democrats, including Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and presidents Obama and Clinton, have previously supported immigration laws designed to keep immigrants out and remove those who managed to get in illegally.
A case can be made that Democrats want the citizenship question left off the 2020 form so they can import more future voters for their candidates and skewer districts to create a permanent electoral majority.
Politics, not the law, has changed everything. Both parties are at fault for failing to enforce existing laws and by not reforming the broken system. It is not only a disgrace, but national suicide. If it continues, the country we inherited from our forebears will be no more.
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Cal Thomas, America's most-syndicated columnist, is the author of 10 books.