SLCC holds an array of ideas and bases many of its courses on critical thinking, but how aware are students on hot topics such as immigration? Several leading members of congress are pushing to revise the first section of the 14th Amendment, which states all those born or naturalized here are considered US citizens, regardless of their background. The amendment originally was intended to address the citizen status of former slaves. The 14th Amendment was the clause that overruled Dred v. Sanford (1857), which ruled that blacks could not be citizens.
“I think it might need to be changed sometimes because society has changed from back when they wrote it…American was formed on immigration, you know, but at the same time it’s kind of contradicting itself if they want to change it to make a point that other people can’t come in this country, it’s a free country that’s based on people immigrating here,” said SLCC General Studies major Eric Petersen.
An informal poll of 20 SLCC students shows that only 30 percent of these students heard of the proposed reform, and only 15 percent of students even know what the 14th Amendment says. Many conservatives fear that the Constitution protects illegal aliens coming to the US to have babies just to gain citizenship. Progressives feel that this rhetoric has an anti-immigrant tone, and it is outright bad policy. Here’s what some of SLCC students think.
Lance Fatheringham, a 21-year-old Graphic Design major thinks the reform kind of makes sense and isn’t surprised to know that the majority of SLCC students aren’t aware of what the 14th Amendment says. He felt the issue was tough to take a stand on. Fatheringham doesn’t think the proposed revision is something most college students need to be aware of.
Ashley Brozowski, a 21-year-old Art major says, “I think it’s stupid, I think we should revise the amendment in the opposite manner…make it more equal opportunity.”
To make it clear, section one of the 14th Amendment reads, “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. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
It could be argued that this amendment as well as amendments within the Bill of Rights serves as the vein through which the values of America flow. Whether you agree with the conservatives or take a more progressive stance, knowing what is going on in this country can make a difference right here on campus. Students are the people that will propel American democracy forward. When one student was asked if she knew what the amendment says, she replied, “No, but now I’m going to check.” That’s all it takes.