The question is not, as Fox’s Megyn Kelly put it to Ted Cruz, whether to deport illegal immigrants whose children are American citizens.
On her show “The Kelly File,” Fox News host Megyn Kelly asked Sen. Ted Cruz, “If you had a husband and a wife who are illegal immigrants and they have two children who are American citizens, would you deport all of them? Would you deport the American citizen children?”
Kelly honed in on one of the most emotional and practical elements of the immigration debate. Donald Trump said he would deport the entire family. Cruz didn’t take the bait and dodged the question, focusing instead on policy changes to stop illegal immigration in the first place.
Some might be applauding Cruz for evading the trap, but neither is right—not Trump by giving the government totalitarian-type powers to deport American citizens nor Cruz in evading the realities of deportation. Even Kelly was wrong in her presumptive line of questioning because she presupposed that a pro-deportation plan is a no-win scenario: If you want to deport illegal immigrants, then you’re either guilty of breaking up families by deporting the parents or you’re violating the rights of children who are American citizens. Any politician who supports either position would come off looking like a bad guy. This, however, is a false dichotomy.
Make Illegal Immigrants Choose, Not Lawmakers
To begin with, current legislation before Congress to end birthright citizenship for illegal aliens says nothing about revoking the citizenship of children who are already here or sending them back to their native country. Rep. Steve King’s bill proposes that we should grandfather in those who are already citizens: “The amendment made by subsection (a)(3) shall not be construed to affect the citizenship or nationality status of any person born before the date of the enactment of this Act.” No one is going to violate the rights of American citizens, even if they are children of illegal immigrants.
But this doesn’t solve the problem of what to do about their parents who are here illegally. Do we deport them and break up the family? Or do we ignore the law and let them stay?