The shooting was at a federal building in downtown Manhattan that houses the immigration court and processing center.
Anybody who has been listening to Donald Trump rant about a supposed illegal alien crime wave might have imagined that the gunman who inexplicably drew one of two .38 caliber revolvers he was carrying in a plastic bag and fatally wounded a security guard on Friday was a homicidal foreigner.
But after the gunman had stepped beyond the dying guard and passed through the metal detector and fatally shot himself, a search of his wallet showed that he was a 68-year-old retired U.S. Army Reserves officer, a onetime government employee named Kevin Downing, from a place no more distant than just across the Hudson River in Fort Lee, New Jersey. He had briefly worked as an economist with the U.S. Department of Labor, which has offices in the building. He had been let go before he completed the one-year trial period and he had unsuccessfully sued to be reinstated, charging he had been fired for being a whistleblower who reported “a gross waste of funds.” The hearing board found he had “not revealed anything not widely known” and had “failed to make a non-frivolous allegation.”
Detectives noted that Downing had opened fire without exchanging so much as a word with the ill-fated guard. The guard, 53-year-old Idrissa Camara, had been due to go off duty at 4 p.m., but he had agreed to work an extended shift when he could have gone home to his wife and children. He was a native of the Ivory Coast, which means in this case the immigrant was the victim. He had died simply because he had the terrible luck to be there at 5:05 p.m. when Downing appeared with his two handguns.
One thing that could be said with certainty about the killer was that he should not have been allowed anywhere near firearms.
Of course, the same can be said about virtually all those who murder by gun, most particularly those who kill kids. An average of seven kids in their teens and younger are shot to death in this country each day, for a total of nearly 30,000 over the past decade.
Not that the reality of one murdered child after another after another has dissuaded Donald Trump and other gun-rights advocates from passionately supporting the Second Amendment.
“It is so important that we maintain the Second Amendment and that we maintain it strongly,” Trump said the other day.
Yet when it comes to the Fourteenth Amendment, the same guy who makes no mention of actual dead kids invokes the myth of “anchor babies” and a supposed illegal alien crime wave as if they were something real. He speaks as if the Constitution were just so much parchment.
“It’s not going to hold up in court,” Trump said on Fox News after Bill O’Reilly correctly stated that the 14th Amendment says anyone born in the United State automatically becomes a citizen.
Actually, the Fourteenth Amendment was upheld by the Supreme Court in U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark back in 1898. Wong was born in San Francisco to Chinese parents. He visited China when he was in his teens and had no problem returning because he was deemed to be an American citizen by virtue of his birth.
But when he returned from a similar trip in his early 20s, he was detained for deportation by Customs officials who cited the Chinese Exclusion Act. He fought it in the courts with the help of a Chinese benevolent group and prevailed.
"The child of an alien, if born in the country, is as much a citizen as the natural born child of a citizen, and by operation of the same principle,” the court ruled.
That very same principle has in recent years prompted a number of foreigners to visit the U.S. with the primary purpose of having their child born here in America.
Trump conjures visions of hordes of pregnant Mexicans, poised at the border and then dashing in to have an American-born child.
Likely, most undocumented immigrants of whatever origin who give birth here are already living here. An American-born child is traditionally the giant step toward assimilation.
A great many of the folks who come here with the sole and express purpose of having a baby in America are not immigrants at all, but well-to-do “maternity tourists” from China. A majority of them are said to be seeking to elude their own country’s prohibition against having more than one child. Others are simply seeking to have their kid become an American the same way Wong did more than a century ago.
Most of the “birthing centers” that cater to the Chinese are in Southern California. A number of them have websites.
“Congratulations! Arriving in the U.S. means you’ve already given your child a surefire ticket for winning the race,” one announces. “We guarantee that each baby can obtain a U.S. passport and related documents.”
A Yelp-style site offers consumer reviews of the various centers. One happy customer reports, “Many activities in confinement center here; dumplings, English training, Yoga.”
In March, a federal undercover investigation culminated in a series of raids. A number of individuals were charged with immigration fraud for having said they were tourists when they applied for visas rather than revealing the true nature of their visit.
But even though one press report called the investigation an “anchor baby probe,” none of the people charged seem to have been seeking to have an American-born child so they themselves could become citizens.
In truth, there are no real anchor babies. An American-born baby does not give you an edge in securing citizenship until the child reaches the age of 21.
Only then can your former child sponsor you for citizenship. And, if you happen to have been in America illegally, you have to wait at least an additional 10 years.
Which means that an illegal immigrant who hopes to secure citizenship through an American-born baby can expect to wait at least 31 years.
But that does not stop Trump from speaking of “anchor babies.” And because he talks about anchor babies, Jeb Bush has taken to talking about anchor babies.
When Trump was informed that some people find the term offensive, he shrugged.
“You mean it’s not politically correct, and yet everybody uses it?” Trump said. “You know what? Give me a different term.”
And because Trump shrugged, Bush shrugged, using much the same language and issuing the very same challenge to a reporter.
“Do you have a better term?” Bush asked. “You give me a better term and I’ll use it. I’m serious."
One better term:
An American citizen as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, as the latest gun victims come to include a 9-year-old Ferguson girl killed as she sat on her mother’s bed doing her homework and a 53-year-old security guard working overtime, Bush has joined Trump in declaring his passionate support for an amendment they do like.
“I will match my record against anyone else when it comes to support and defense of the Second Amendment,” Bush said in a speech to the NRA.
He condemned those who approach the Constitution as a “breakfast buffet” and “pick the amendments they like—and the ones they don't like, they just leave alone.”
“But here's the thing,” he went on. “You honor all of it. You protect all of it.”
Down at the shooting scene in the federal building in Manhattan, investigators were saying that the murdered guard Camara was the doting father of a year-old daughter named Zaniya. The girl had become a U.S. citizen at birth thanks to the Fourteenth Amendment.
Camara was also the father of a grown daughter. She is serving with the U.S. Army, as had the man who killed her father with one of two guns he possessed thanks to the Second Amendment.