A controversial ad on the 14th Amendment that ran in Newsweek

Here at Arizona Attorney Magazine, we are accustomed to reading well-cited material. In fact, you could argue that some of our articles are, shall we say, excessive in the endnotes department. (Authors: You know who you are.)

So used to it am I that I am occasionally stunned by the lack of documentation in news articles. How often do we get to the end of a newspaper story with more questions than when we started? And it’s even more annoying when the supporting information could have been obtained without much work on the reporter’s part.

That’s why Laurie Roberts’ column in today’s Arizona Republic is refreshing.

As some Arizona legislators head to Washington to protest the 14th Amendment, Roberts takes the opportunity to give her opinion (which is her job) and to shed some light (which is part of her job but too often ignored by reporters).

How does she do that? By going back to some original material. In so doing, she goes further than just adding her two cents to the debate over whether children born in this country to undocumented parents should be American citizens (she says they should be). But she adds some actual language spoken by a senator in 1866 on the topic.

Anchor Baby by Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Amazing how little it takes to impress me, eh?

But so trifling has news coverage become that my heart races when I am given some actual evidence, or data, which my mind can then assess for itself.

She concludes her column with an insight into the so-called anchor baby debate—a vision of an America with two classes of citizens.

“Consider, for a moment, that the … proposal would give us a permanent underclass of people who can never become citizens. Generation after generation of people who have no allegiance to this country and no stake in what happens here. People who are told to go back to where they came from, even when where they came from is … here.”

Among the opinionated and loud debates over the topic, I must say that her question is intriguing. (The comments that follow her column online do not whole-heartedly agree with my “intriguing” compliment.) As we move into 2011 with a debate about a 19th-century amendment, let’s hope for more evidence to bring to bear.

Read her complete column here.