A Lesson in History – After the Civil War: Birthright Mandates

Go Lean Commentary

The subject of nationality is dominant in the news right now. This is due to many illegal migrants fleeing their homelands seeking a better life abroad, for themselves and/or their children, many times at great risk to their lives. The issue of “children of illegal immigrants” is where this simple desire becomes complicated politics, and draws on a complicated history.

Do children of illegal immigrants have the right to stay in their new country of birth or be deported back to the homelands of their parents? What if one parent is a citizen of the host country, should gender of the parent matter?

These questions so strongly parallel a different time and place: the Antebellum times (before the Civil War) of the United States of America.

CU Blog - A Lesson in History - After the Civil War - Birthrights - Photo 2The US confronted these issues in a comprehensive way, giving a full measure, and a complete lesson to a watching world. The country had a bad legacy with the issues of racism, racial supremacy and discrimination. Even the Supreme Court’s decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), asserted that Americans descended from African slaves could not be citizens of the United States. American society never accepted a common definition of human rights. As a result, African-Americans suffered in this country, first slavery, then even after the abolition of slavery the oppression, suppression and repression continued with a Peonage system, Jim Crow and blatant discrimination practices. This dread was manifested in the impassioned chant:

Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere!

Since the early colonial period in America, slavery had been a part of the socio-economic system of British North America and was recognized in the Thirteen Colonies at the time of the United StatesDeclaration of Independence (1776). Since then, events and statements by politicians and others brought forth differences, tensions and divisions between the people of the slave states of the Southern United States and the people of the free states of the Northern United States (including Western states) over the topics of slavery. The issue and divisions of slavery became so irreconcilable and contentious [1] that only a violent clash – a war – would resolve. The war was a “Come to Jesus!” A Big Day of Reckoning!

Without a doubt, the Civil War was conclusive! The conflict transpired between 1861 and 1865; 625,000[5] Americans died…on both sides (365,000 total dead [4] on the Union side; 260,000 total dead on the Confederacy side). This blood should not be forgotten.

The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. – Genesis 4:10 New International Version

This backdrop was the basis for the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. Consider the encyclopedic details here:

Title: Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
Source: Wikipedia – Online Encyclopedia (Retrieved 10/14/2015) retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourteenth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

CU Blog - A Lesson in History - After the Civil War - Birthrights - Photo 1The Fourteenth Amendment (Amendment XIV) to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments. The amendment addresses citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws, and was proposed in response to issues related to former slaves following the American Civil War. The amendment was bitterly contested, particularly by Southern states, which were forced to ratify it in order for them to regain representation in Congress. The Fourteenth Amendment, particularly its first section, is one of the most litigated parts of the Constitution, forming the basis for landmark decisions such as Roe v. Wade (1973) regarding abortion, Bush v. Gore (2000) regarding the 2000 presidential election, and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) regarding same-sex marriage. The amendment limits the actions of all state and local officials, including those acting on behalf of such an official.

The amendment’s first section includes several clauses: the Citizenship Clause, Privileges or Immunities Clause, Due Process Clause, and Equal Protection Clause. The Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship, overruling the Supreme Court’s decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), which had held that Americans descended from African slaves could not be citizens of the United States. The Privileges or Immunities Clause has been interpreted in such a way that it does very little.

The Due Process Clause prohibits state and local government officials from depriving persons of life, liberty, or property without legislative authorization. This clause has also been used by the federal judiciary to make most of the Bill of Rights applicable to the states, as well as to recognize substantive and procedural requirements that state laws must satisfy.

The Equal Protection Clause requires each state to provide equal protection under the law to all people within its jurisdiction. This clause was the basis for Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the Supreme Court decision that precipitated the dismantling of racial segregation, and for many other decisions rejecting irrational or unnecessary discrimination against people belonging to various groups.

The second, third, and fourth sections of the amendment are seldom litigated. However, the second section’s reference to “rebellion and other crime” has been invoked as a constitutional ground for felony disenfranchisement. The fifth section gives Congress the power to enforce the amendment’s provisions by “appropriate legislation”. However, under City of Boerne v. Flores (1997), Congress’s enforcement power may not be used to contradict a Supreme Court interpretation of the amendment.

There are lessons from this history to be learned and applied in the Caribbean relating to nationality and immigration.

This commentary is 3 of 3 considering lessons that are especially apropos for application in the Caribbean region of 2015. The lessons are cataloged as follows:

  1. Before the War: Human Rights Cannot Be Compromised
  2. During the War: Principle over Principal – Boycott Over a Difference in Pay
  3. After the War: Birth Right – Assigning Same Value to All Life

The Civil War is being commemorated now, at the 150th Anniversary of its conclusion. But there is no need for “pomp and circumstance” in acknowledging these events in the “rear view” mirror – this was an American crisis. There is only the need to look and learn, as there is such an important lesson for Caribbean nationality consideration.

The book Go Lean…Caribbean serves as a roadmap for elevating Caribbean society, for all 30 member-states, with the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). The book does not ignore the subject of citizenship and nationality. In fact the roadmap provides perhaps the ultimate resolution to this perplexing problem, that of a regional entity providing a regional solution.

According to the foregoing encyclopedic reference, the Fourteenth Amendment changed the American standard of citizenship and nationality. The US “Super Power” status now influences the “normalized” view for many people in the Caribbean neighborhood for what is right and what is wrong with nationality recognition. The 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution addressed citizenship rights and equal protection of the laws, and was proposed in response to issues related to former slaves following the Civil War. This lesson was harvested from the sowing in blood.

Can other communities benefit from this now simple definition of citizenship?

“all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside”[24]

This is in effect, a citizenship rendition of the acclaimed Declaration of Independence (1776):

“All men are created equal”.

Early in the Go Lean book, this need for careful review of history was acknowledged and then placed into perspective with this pronouncement in a similar Declaration of Interdependence (Page 10):

As the history of our region and the oppression, suppression and repression of its indigenous people is duly documented, there is no one alive who can be held accountable for the prior actions, and so we must put aside the shackles of systems of repression to instead formulate efficient and effective systems to steer our own destiny.

As the colonial history of our region was initiated to create economic expansion opportunities for our previous imperial masters, the structures of government instituted in their wake have not fostered the best systems for prosperity of the indigenous people.

The sensitivities of the issue of migration is so heightened now because countries in the Caribbean neighborhood have been harsh in their treatment of Cuban and Haitian refugees, many even considering changes to their constitutions in an effort to tighten immigration policies so as to end the automatic birthright citizenship for children of illegal immigrants.[12]

The Latin phrases, jus soli (‘right of the soil’) and jus sanguinis (‘right of blood’), explain the applicable legal concepts in our region. But Latin does not describe the pain and suffering the African Diaspora experienced over the centuries in the Americas. We need more than language.

To apply lessons from the painful Civil War, this commentary urges the jus soli standard for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.

Caribbean member-states are badly in need of remediation, to lower the “push and pull” factors that drive so many to risk their ‘life and limb’, and those of their children, to take flight under dangerous circumstances to seek a better life.

This is not a problem just for Cuba, Haiti and the countries in the migrants’ path (Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico) to get to better living conditions. This is a problem for all the Caribbean. There is always someone doing better and someone doing worse.

The Go Lean book – and blogs – posits that the effort is less to cure the Caribbean homeland than to thrive as an alien in a foreign land. This is easier said than done! But this is the quest of the Go Lean roadmap, to make the Caribbean homeland a better place to live, work and play for its 42 million residents and 80 visitors, across the 30 member-states. The CU, applying best-practices for community empowerment has these 3 prime directives, proclaimed as follows:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines and ensure the respect of human rights and public safety.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines.

How exactly can the CU impact the most troubled countries that are the source of so many illegal migrants: Cuba and Haiti? The book relates the history of post-war Europe, where the Marshall Plan was instrumental in rebooting that continent, and also the Reconstruction Years for rebuilding the Southern US after the Civil War. The book Go Lean…Caribbean details a Marshall Plan-like / Reconstruction-like roadmap for Cuba and Haiti, and other failing Caribbean institutions.

The related subjects of economic, security and governing dysfunction among American, European and Caribbean communities have been a frequent topic for Go Lean blogs, as sampled below. These represent other lessons for the Caribbean to learn from considering history:

http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=6531 A Lesson in History – Book Review of the ‘Exigency of 2008’
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=6189 A Lesson in History – ‘Katrina’ is helping today’s crises
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=5183 A Lesson in History – Cinco De Mayo
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=5123 A Lesson in History – Royal Charter: Zimbabwe -vs- South Africa
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=5055 A Lesson in History – Empowering Families
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=4971 A Lesson in History – Royal Charter: Truth & Consequence
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=4935 A Lesson in History – The ‘Grand Old Party’ of American Politics
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=4720 A Lesson in History – SARS in Hong Kong
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=4166 A Lesson in History – Panamanian Balboa
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2809 A Lesson in History – Economics of East Berlin
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2670 A Lesson in History – Rockefeller’s Pipeline
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2585 A Lesson in History – Concorde SST
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2480 A Lesson in History – Community Ethos of WW II Detroit
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=2297 A Lesson in History – Booker T versus Du Bois
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=1531 A Lesson in History – 100 Years Ago Today – World War I
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=789 A Lesson in History – America’s War on the Caribbean

The Go Lean book details a series of community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to elevate Caribbean society so as to optimize the “push/pull” factors that currently send Caribbean citizens to the High Seas to flee their homeland. See this sample list of details from the book:

Community Ethos – Economic Systems Influence Choices & Incentives Page 21
Community Ethos – Consequences of Choices Lie in the Future Page 21
Community Ethos – Anti-Bullying and Mitigation Page 23
Community Ethos – Minority Equalization Page 24
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Future Page 26
Community Ethos – Ways to Manage Reconciliations Page 34
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Vision – Integrate region into a Single Market Economy Page 45
Strategy – Agents of Change – Globalization Page 57
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Department of Homeland Security Page 75
Implementation – Security Initiatives at Start-up – Border, Immigration & Emigration Page 103
Planning – 10 Big Ideas … in the Caribbean Region – # 10 Cuba & Haiti Page 127
Planning – Ways to Ways to Model the EU – From Worst to First Page 130
Planning – Reasons Why the CU Will Succeed – Germany Reconciliation Model Page 132
Planning – Ways to Improve Failed-State Indices – Cuba & Haiti on the List Page 134
Planning – Lessons from East Germany – European post-war rebuilding Page 139
Planning – Lessons from the Detroit – Best Practices for Turn-Around Page 140
Planning – Lessons from the Bible Page 144
Planning – Lessons from the US Constitution Page 145
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs Page 152
Advocacy – Ways to Foster Empowering Immigration – Case Study of Indian Migrants Page 174
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Justice Page 178
Advocacy – Ways to Impact the Diaspora Page 217
Advocacy – Ways to Protect Human Rights Page 220
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Youth – Citizenship Clarity Page 227
Advocacy – Ways to Re-boot Cuba Page 236
Advocacy – Ways to Impact the Dominican Republic Page 237
Advocacy – Ways to Re-boot Haiti Page 238
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Trinidad & Tobago – Indo versus Afro Page 240
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Guyana – Indo versus Afro Page 241
Advocacy – Ways to Impact US Territories – All is not well Page 244
Appendix – Puerto Rico Migrations to New York Page 303

All of the Caribbean needs to learn from the experiences of our neighbor, the United States during the Civil War. Too much blood – brother on brother – has been shed to ignore. As depicted in the Go Lean book, there is the need to minimize the push-pull factors that lead to our societal abandonment. Our citizens are dying in the waters trying to flee our homelands. The US learned its lessons from a Civil War (Page 145). As depicted in the foregoing encyclopedic reference, Reconstruction provisions can help to forge a New Society; see Appendix-VIDEO below.

Birth rights clarification is crucial for future progress.

If all in a community sacrifice, then all in the community should have the same rights and privileges. That is the very definition of birthrights.

When will we (in the Caribbean) learn? When is enough, enough?

The Go Lean/CU roadmap has proposed solutions: CU citizenship; and facilitating the Lex soli process at the CU level – thereby removing the subjectivity and bias to the nationality process. As depicting in a previous blog, fragments of this proposed system is already in place with the issuance of CariCom passports. The Go Lean roadmap calls for the assembling of CariCom organs into the CU Trade Federation, the Caribbean passport practice would therefore continue.

Now is the time for all of the Caribbean to learn the lessons from history of the American Civil War. Though not directly our homeland, we can still benefit from their bloodshed. We can hear the blood crying out to God for reckoning and reconciliation.

The Go Lean book posits that the Caribbean is in a serious crisis of its own, but asserts that this crisis would be a terrible thing to waste. The same as the blood of 625,000 Americans (Civil War dead) would have been a terrible thing to waste, we too can harvest progress from sacrifice. The people and governing institutions of the Caribbean region are hereby urged to lean-in for the empowerments described in this Go Lean roadmap.

This quest is conceivable, believable and achievable … without a war, nor bloodshed!


Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Appendix – VIDEO: US 13th,14th, and 15th Amendments – https://youtu.be/89fU1HvZLfA

Published on Sep 9, 2013 – Category: People & Blogs

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