"I have to tell you I have [been] surprised, to say the least, that the discussions we have had about amending the U.S. Constitution [have happened] before we can even get to the table about amending the statues that carry out immigration policy," Napolitano said at a press briefing today. "Any talk of amending the Constitution is just wrong."
As Napolitano points out, the furor over amending the amendment that guarantees so-called birthright citizenship can largely be understood in relation to the larger hot-button issue of illegal immigration.
Championed by a growing number of Republican politicians, such as South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham, the move to do away with the 14th Amendment comes at a time when resentment against illegal immigration has struck a chord in America.
With U.S. unemployment high, and states like Arizona passing new laws designed to turn away illegal immigrants, suddenly the airwaves seem full of arguments about birth tourism and (in an even more incendiary phrasing) birth terrorism.
As Surge Desk reported on Wednesday, the Pew Hispanic Center estimated that there were 340,000 babies are born on U.S. soil to "unauthorized immigrant parents" in 2008, making up roughly eight percent of all births in the country that year.
But taking away rights enshrined in the Constitution is no simple matter, as AOL News' Dave Thier notes:
The process of amending the federal Constitution is so arduous that it hasn't been accomplished since 1992 (barring changes in congressional salaries from taking effect until the next term), and hadn't been used for broad change to the American political system since 1971 (when the voting age was standardized at 18).