Jeremy Lin is an unlikely superstar.
He received no athletic scholarships out of high school and was undrafted out of college. He started his pro-basketball career with the Golden State Warriors after he graduated from Harvard University in 2010. He was later waived by the Warriors and the Houston Rockets before joining the New York Knicks early this season.
Lin is one of the few Asian Americans in NBA history, and the first American player in the league to be of Chinese or Taiwanese descent. He is also the American-born son of Taiwanese immigrants.
But Lin might not be playing for the Knicks, or for any other team in the NBA, if the anti-immigrant restrictionists had their way.
Hiding behind a false veneer of moderation, retrictionist groups work to end virtually all immigration to the U.S., envisioning an America whose gates are closed to the best and brightest -- the scientists, entrepreneurs, artists and, yes, the athletes. The anti-immigrant nativists claim to stand for "legal immigration" which makes for an attractive sound bite until you read the fine print of their agenda. NumbersUSA, for example, calls for a "time-out" on practically all immigration. That extreme and economically dangerous position is echoed by other restrictionist groups like the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The restrictionists cite the "rule of law" as the basis of their radical anti-immigrant agenda. Yet their commitment to it is hollow. In fact, they endeavor to eviscerate a core provision of the U.S. Constitution, the Fourteenth Amendment citizenship clause. Directly overruling the infamous Dred Scott decision and codifying the common law rule that a person born within the jurisdiction of the U.S. is an American citizen, the Fourteenth Amendment forms the cornerstone of American civil rights by ensuring due process and equal protection to all persons.
So, it is nothing less than shocking that today, after more than 150 years, during which time Americans have fought and died for the right to be free from slavery, discrimination, and other forms of degrading and inhumane treatment, we bear witness to the nativists' brazen attack on the Constitution's guarantee of citizenship.
Make no mistake, the enemies of constitutional citizenship are the same folks that engineered the draconian "Show Me Your Papers" laws in states like Arizona and Alabama. Yet while they strive to turn the clock back to 1867, when Dred Scott was the law of the land, they fail to cite a single credible study supporting their ill-advised position that gutting the Constitutional Citizenship Clause will fix any particular problem. Nor do they bother to explain exactly what problem it is they intend to solve.
If the anti-immigrant restrictionists truly believed in the rule of law they would embrace Constitutional Citizenship as it is enshrined in the Constitution -- the supreme law of the land. But their commitment to the rule of law is limited to phoney lip service. Their true objective is to halt virtually all legal immigration, particularly Latino immigration, even at the cost of abridging civil rights and returning our nation to the days of Dred Scott when people were viewed as commodities to be bought and sold and abused for a price.
Which brings me back to Jeremy Lin, the unlikely NBA superstar. In just the few short weeks that Lin has been playing he has lifted the spirits of basketball fans all over New York, something that hasn't been seen since the Knicks' glory days. But if the restrictionists had their way his story would not be possible and America would lose out, just as it does when it closes its doors to those seeking the American dream who, over the course of American history, have helped make this country the greatest country in the world.
Lin, an American-born son of Taiwanese immigrants, is one more shining example of the value of immigration. His contribution is a gift, a blessing for all Americans to cherish and enjoy.
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