There was a famous saying about wartime Germany:

"First they came for the Communists and I was silent, because I wasn't a Communist. Next they came for the Jews and I was silent, because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me."

I must start by emphasizing emphatically and categorically that there is no comparison whatsoever between the goals of America's immigration opponents, which are merely to limit or reduce immigration, and the goals of the Nazi movement, one of the greatest evils, if not the greatest, in all of human history, which not only tried to exterminate at least two entire races of people from the face of the earth (Jews and Roma - "Gypsies") and engaged in inhuman persecution of millions of other people in occupied Europe, but wanted to put an end to human civilization as we know it.

But for those of us who support more, rather than less immigration, there may be a parallel in our reaction to the attacks against a fair and open immigration system coming from America's right wing, and the failure of opponents of Germany's rulers to speak out. As the above saying points out, it is all too easy to think that it is only someone else who is under attack, not oneself.

In the case of America's anti-immigrant movement, it has been common for many Americans and immigrants alike to think that the target is limited primarily to unauthorized immigrants, i.e. people who have entered the US without permission or who entered legally, but overstayed their visas.

See, for example, a powerful 25-page report by the Alliance For Citizenship dated May, 2015 entitled:

The 2015 GOP Mass Deportation Agenda: An Overview of Anti-Immigrant Attacks by the 114th Congress

(Sorry, I do not have a URL for this report; please use Google.)

Yet, despite all the indications in the above report and the articles mentioned below that support for mass deportation is only part of a larger anti-immigrant agenda, many immigrants who are in the US with legal visas tend to look at the "illegals" as merely a nuisance or a hindrance to reform, because, after all, they have broken the law, haven't they?

And besides, most "illegals" are regarded as uneducated and unskilled, so it is understandable that, say, a senior computer engineer seeking an H-1B job paying a six-figure annual salary (and, yes, many H-B jobs do pay high salaries) might not feel much in common with a Mexican restaurant worker who came across the Southern border without permission. But, as we are now finding out more and more, the same people who have built their political careers advocating for mass deportation of unauthorized, unskilled immigrants are now going after legal, skilled immigrants, especially with regard to H-1B visas.

A prime example, of course, is Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) one of America's fiercest advocates of mass deportation for unauthorized immigrants, who is now leading the charge against legal H-1B skilled workers as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration. One of POLITICO's top immigration reporters, Seung Min Kim, writes the following in her March, 2015 article The Senate's Anti-immigration Warrior:

"Sessions has long been a critic not just of legalizing undocumented immigrants but of allowing more immigrants into the United States at all - a view to which many in the GOP take exception."

"But the fourth term Senator is quickly moving on from defeat [in his attempt to block Obama's executive action for unauthorized immigrants] to his next crusade: attacking high skilled immigration."

For an even less charitable assessment of Senator Sessions, see Matt Hildreth in America's Voice, April 18, 2013, Anti-Immigrant Senator is leading the Gang of Hate. Who else will join him?

But the anti-immigrant right (which does not by any means include all Republicans - there are many fair, moderate Republicans who genuinely care about immigration reform and want it for the good of their own party) is not only going after immigrants, whether illegal or legal. It is now targeting Americans too, at least American children. See Huffington Post, April 29,

House Republicans Go After Birthright Citizenship

According to the above article, opponents of birthright citizenship are arguing that granting citizenship at birth to US-born children of unauthorized immigrants is based on a misunderstanding of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.

But the hoary old argument that the 14th Amendment can be interpreted to grant birthright citizenship only to the children of legal immigrants (or even just to children of lawful permanent residents or US citizens - as some of the most extreme immigration opponents are advocating) was thrown out 117 years ago by the US Supreme Court in US v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 US 649 (1898).

In that case, which was decided in one of the worst periods of anti-immigrant prejudice in all of US history, but still refused to make American-born children victims of that prejudice, the Court held that the US-born child of Chinese parents was an American citizen at birth, even though his parents were barred by law from ever becoming US citizens themselves.

While it is true that the concept of birthright citizenship for every child born in the US (except for children of foreign diplomats) is not spelled out in the 14th Amendment as clearly as it might have been, and that it depends almost entirely on this single US Supreme Court decision (from which two of the Justices dissented for openly racial reasons, according to their dissenting opinion), it should be virtually unthinkable that even today's right wing Supreme Court would overturn this decision and thereby take away citizenship retroactively from tens of millions of Americans over the last century and a quarter (or so one would hope - with today's reactionary Supreme Court majority, almost anything could be possible).

Yet, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia), whose committee is reportedly considering, or has already approved, harsh bills against unauthorized immigrants, is quoted in the Huffington Post as saying:

"The question of whether our forefathers meant for birthright citizenship in all circumstances to be the law of the land is far from settled...In any event, we must still determine if it is the right policy for America today."

"Far from settled'"? Has Goodlatte, a former immigration lawyer, never heard of or read Wong Kim Ark?

It is easy to see why Nancy Pelosi, according to the Huffpost, accused those Republicans (who do not speak for all Republicans, by any means) who support taking birthright citizenship away from millions of American children of pandering "to the most radical, anti-immigrant corners of their party", with "one of the most loathsome, xenophobic proposals in recent memory." (Bold added.)

First, immigration opponents wanted to impose mass deportation on 11 million men, women and children without exception. Next, they wanted to end or drastically reduce skilled worker legal immigration. Now, they also want to take away citizenship from millions of American children. Which Americans will they go after next?

Hint: there is an answer to the last question: all Americans, or at least those who come into almost any contact with immigrants - see my forthcoming post.
Roger Algase is a New York lawyer and graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been helping employment-based and family-based immigrants overcome the obstacles of our complex immigration system and achieve their goals of living and working in America for more than 30 years.

Roger welcomes comments and questions at