THE POST & EMAIL’S EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH MITCH VAN BILJON
by Sharon Rondeau
This evening, Van Biljon will return as a guest in a lengthier interview hosted by WOBC Founder Mike Volin and guest host CDR Charles F. Kerchner, Jr. (Ret.) to discuss his research on the term “natural born Citizen.”
On Thursday, The Post & Email interviewed van Biljon on a number of topics from American history including the Framers’ intent when they wrote that only a “natural born Citizen” could occupy the presidency; the 14th and 16th Amendments, and a subject on which Van Biljon has spoken often before, that of “natural rights.”
Van Biljon was a guest speaker for the First Coast, FL Tea Party and at the Salt Lake City, UT Tea Party on several occasions between 2011 and 2013. His keynote address to the First Coast group occurred in conjunction with The Heritage Foundation. He told The Post & Email that he attends tea party meetings regularly, where he enjoys discussions on the topic of natural rights.
A brief bio reads as follows:
Born in Durban, South Africa. Served 4 years in the South African army and served a mission for my church in England in 1983-84. Completed a business degree with a double major in business and economics and an MBA through Brunel University in the UK. Run a consulting business focusing on program and project management. Married to Sonia and have 5 children and 5 grandchildren. Immigrated to the U.S. in Nov 1996.
After deciding to leave South Africa with his young family, Van Biljon considered a number of nations where he considered relocating including New Zealand, Australia, the UK, and the United States. He observed that because South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia had been colonies of the UK, their respective governments were based on that nation’s parliamentary system. “It was then a matter of looking at the U.S. Constitution, which allows us to pursue the things that are important to us as individuals,” he said.
He left South Africa because of rising violence there. “At the time that I left, there were 48 murders a day that were reported. There was an armed robbery every three minutes. There is no way I could take that risk with my family,” he told us. He attributes the deterioration in safety to a “very different culture” than in the U.S. and lower value placed on human life. “It is not what we are used to in the West. It’s a very violent culture, and in the tribal culture, it is who is the most powerful and the most ruthless. It’s not conducive to a peaceful society.”
Van Biljon said that he “started the process” of choosing a new home country in April 1995. In evaluating where he wanted to take his family, he studied the “types of skill sets” needed by his potential choices, visiting the U.S. later that year. He acquired training in the field of SAP which he found was in demand in the United States.
The Van Biljon family first settled in Southern California, then moved to Utah in 1998. He is a devout Mormon. Regarding Utah, he told us, “We love it. The people are great; the values they embrace are remarkable.”
Van Biljon is a student of history, America’s founding documents and politics and will be launching a website to educate the public on those topics within the next 30 days. The site is live but not completed as of this writing. He described his reasons for launching it as, “One of the things that has appalled me – and I love America and the American people – is that the detailed knowledge of what led us to the freedom that we have today and the founding principles is lacking. As an example, when people talk about natural rights, they can list them, but they can’t tell you the details of what they are. For instance, the “pursuit of happiness” [in the Declaration of Independence] was initially “the persuit [sic] of property.” Thomas Jefferson changed it from “property” to “the pursuit of happiness” because he believed that property was only a component of happiness. But the fundamental pursuit of happiness – and the Founders and Framers believed this strongly – was a desire to build a relationship with Christ that results in internal happiness.
“A second example, if you look at property, people deemed property to be hard assets, land, buildings. The Founders defined everything as property: your thoughts;, your creative, imaginative mind; your salary, your wages. We can talk a little later about the 16th Amendment, because if Americans knew what the definition of “income” was, they would realize that it does not include wages and salaries. Since the passage of the 16th Amendment, the American people have had money stolen from them by the federal government purely from deceit.
Alabama was the very first state that ratified the 16th Amendment, and during the ratification discussions in each legislature, the question was asked, “Does income include wages and salaries?” and the response was, “No, it does not.” The governor of Kentucky also stated that nobody regarded wages and salaries as “income.” If you go and look at the definition and the Supreme Court rulings, the statements are that income is referred to by law – and “by law,” I’m not referring to the IRS code, because the IRS code is in total violation of the passage of the law which regards the 16th Amendment, which is defined as “unearned income,” not earned income. That includes profit from sale of stock as well as dividends. Unearned income is where you don’t have to consume your time, your hours and your labor, which diminishes you. You would not be liable for paying taxes on your personal, individual income.
The Post & Email then said, “There is evidence which seems to show that the 16th Amendment was not ratified properly. Does your research show that?”
Absolutely. My research shows that there were ten components that defined whether or not the states had ratified the 16th Amendment, and not one of the states did so. In fact, the Secretary of State at the time, Philander Knox, said that the 16th Amendment had been ratified when it had not been ratified.
I can tell you that the states did not concern themselves too much with the ratification simply because they were of the understanding that wages and salaries were not taxable income, so the 16th Amendment was purely to “correct” a decision made by the Supreme Court in 1895. Prior to that, the appellate court had determined that unearned income could be taxes on an unapportioned basis, and the 16th Amendment came into effect because they wanted to ensure that the wealthy, who had more property and should be paying more taxation than the ordinary citizen who did not have that kind of wealth. So the Supreme Court corrected that and said, “You cannot have any indirect tax on an apportioned basis.” So that corrected the appellate case, which introduced taxation on unearned income for everybody who was wealthy. It was the industrial era, and there were a lot of industrialists who were making a lot of money who weren’t paying any taxes outside of consumption, import duties, etc.
The 16th Amendment was only intended to make sure that the wealthy, who had ten properties, weren’t paying the same as someone else paying on a consumption tax. If I’m being taxed on a consumption of, say, $10,000 a year on food and the wealthy person had ten times my property but spent the same amount on food, he’s getting more protection proportionally than I am. He might have 50 cars and corporate offices that need to be protected by the state, so the 16th Amendment was proposed to make sure that they paid their share.
The Post & Email then asked Van Biljon about whether or not the 14th Amendment, regarding citizenship and parents subject to a foreign jurisdiction, is interpreted properly today, particularly as it goes to “anchor babies.”
Citizenship to foreign-born was solely for a child born off U.S. soil to American parents. No person who is an illegal immigrant is under the jurisdiction of the United States of America. They are not citizens; their parents are not citizens, so they do not qualify.
“What happens when a couple comes over the border and the wife is expecting. She has the baby on U.S. soil. According to the framers of the 14th Amendment, what would the child be considered?”
The child would be a citizen of the country where the parents have citizenship, and we can talk about that when we get to Barack Obama. By virtue of the fact that they’re born to a foreign citizen under the jurisdiction of, let’s say, Mexico, that child is a Mexican citizen, not a United States citizen.
“So the birthplace alone is not the determining factor of citizenship?”
Exactly, yes. It’s the same with the U.S. As we talk about Barack Obama and his eligibility, we can speak to that concept, which falls under natural rights. The Founding Fathers also understood what a “natural born citizen” is. A natural born Citizen is one whose status cannot be changed by an act of Congress. Congress are the only ones who have the authority to define citizenship, but they’re not authorized to define a “natural born Citizen.” A “natural born Citizen” is one who acquired the rights by virtue or his birth through his parents. If the parents are U.S. citizens, you, then, derive that same privilege, and no legislature, no act of Congress, can change that. You’re born with natural rights purely because you’re born; the same with “natural born” citizenship. When you’re born, you receive that benefit, and that’s why the Founding Fathers differentiated very strongly between what a “Citizen” is and a “natural born Citizen” is.
“If the Framers could speak today with one voice and define Article II, Section 1, clause 5, what do you think they would say?”
It’s not what I think they would say, but what they have said. We can start with Hamilton, who made a recommendation that a person born on U.S. territory automatically becomes a citizen. That was rejected by the Framers, and specifically, John Jay, in his correspondence with George Washington, said, “That’s not good enough. You need to be born to an American citizen.” So territory is not the determining factor.
At the time, there were only two definitions that were available from a legal perspective: one was from Blackstone, the British jurist, who stated that a natural born citizen is one born to a father is a citizen of the country. The founders were really concerned about that, because at the time, you had a lot of colonists who had arrived from Great Britain and nobody knew what their allegiance was, so they didn’t want to restrict it to the father; they wanted to be sure that from both the father’s side and the mother’s side, the allegiance was to the United States of America.
“Was there a point at which it changed from one citizen parent to two?”
It didn’t change; what happened was that the founders refereed to Blackstone. They also referred to Vattel, who was a Frenchman who wrote The Law of Nations. He defined natural born citizenship as an individual born to two citizens of the United States at the time of the child’s birth. The Founders referred to Vattel; his works were used extensively by the Founding Fathers, and his definition, based purely on the concerns about allegiance, was accepted as the appropriate definition.
A lot of people turn around and say, “That’s not defined in the Constitution.” The reason it’s not defined in the Constitution is simply that the legislative process did not give Congress the power or authority to define a “natural born citizen.” They could only define what a citizen was because a natural born citizen is beyond the reach of the law. Based on allegiance, based on what they understood a natural born citizen to be at the time, Vattel’s definition was the chosen definition.
It’s been supported in four Supreme Court cases: Happersett, the Venus, Shanks v. Dupont, and Wong Kim Ark, all of which are from the 1800s.
Editor’s Note: The Post & Email’s interview with Van Biljon will continue in a subsequent installment in which he states what he believes Sheriff Joe Arpaio will announce soon.