Republicans target birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants’ children

August 4, 2010

Fresh from a bitter row over Arizona’s tough crackdown on illegal immigrants, top Republican lawmakers in the U.S. Congress are pushing to review a constitutional amendment that grants automatic birthright citizenship to anyone born in the United States.

USA-IMMIGRATION/ARIZONAIn the past week several Republicans have called for or supported hearings on Capitol Hill reviewing the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which was enacted in 1868 following the Civil War and granted citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States.” 

Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and erstwhile supporter of comprehensive immigration reform granting a path to legal status for the nearly 11 million illegal immigrants living stateside, kicked off the row with an interview on the Fox network a week ago in which he said automatic citizenship attracted illegal immigrants, and that a review was needed.

“People come here to have babies. They come here to drop a child, it’s called drop and leave,” Graham said. “To have a child in America, they cross the border, they go to the emergency room, they have a child, and that child’s automatically an American citizen. That shouldn’t be the case. That attracts people for all the wrong reasons,” he added.

Graham said he was considering introducing a constitutional amendment to change the rules on automatic citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants. A study last year by the Pew Hispanic Center estimated at 4 million the number of U.S. citizen children of families where at least one parent was an illegal immigrant.
   
Challenging birthright citizenship has until now been an issue pushed by conservatives on the right of the Republican party. That stand has also gained backing in the past week of Senators Jon Kyl, the second ranking Republican in the Senate, and Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Judiciary Administrative Oversight and the Courts Subcommittee. OBAMA/
   
The latest drive by Republicans follows hot on the heels of Arizona’s tough immigration law — a measure crafted by Republican state lawmakers that sought to drive illegal immigrants out of the Mexico border state, but was blocked by a federal judge last week, arguing that immigration matters are the federal government’s responsibility.
   
Tensions over that law have inflamed a decades-old national debate over immigration, which promises to play into the elections in November, when President Barack Obama’s Democrats are fighting to retain control of Congress.
   
While taking a tough stance on illegal immigrants may play well with the Republican’s conservative base, it runs the risk of alienating U.S. Hispanics, an increasingly weighty voter bloc that turned out for Obama in 2008 by a two-to-one margin.
   
Senator John McCain, who ran for president against Obama and faces a tough primary battle this month in Arizona for his party’s nomination to run for the Senate, also lent his support to the process of reviewing citizenship rights, although he sounded a note of caution about changing the Constitution.
   
“Our Founding Fathers intentionally made the process of amending our Constitution extremely difficult. I believe that the Constitution is a strong, complete and carefully crafted document that has successfully governed our nation for centuries and any proposal to amend the Constitution should receive extensive and thoughtful consideration,” he said in a statement released by his office.

Photo credit: Reuters/Joshua Lott (boy holds sign protesting Arizona immigration law), Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Obama’s shadow on a copy of the U.S. Constitution during speech at the National Archives)

2 comments

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You know, for a party that likes to wrap themselves in the Constitution, they sure do seem to want to obliterate it. We had the “Tenthers” screaming about state sovereignty. And the Tea Parties have called for the repeal of the 16th and 17th Amendment and a new 13th Amendment. Now, the Republicans have decided the key to electoral success this year is to take aim against the 14th Amendment. These old white guys who are afraid of children are known as The Dred Scott Republicans.
Make no mistake, this is just more of the Republican tactic of pointing to some other victimized subset of the population as the reason why your life isn’t all that it could be. Now it’s those wicked little anchor babies–and not the Republican policies of corporatism, favoring the top 5% of the population, dismantling social safety nets, deregulated markets, and union busting–are keeping you from magically being one of those elites who actually stand to gain from the elimination of estate and capital gains taxes. They are not just saying we need a re-examination of the fundamental idea of birthright – but a repeal of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution which includes our right to due process and equal protection. They truly do want to take “their” country back – back to 1868.

Posted by Yellow105 | Report as abusive

There is a small phrase in the Fourteenth Amendment which it seems EVERYONE is ignoring…”All persons born or naturalized in the United States AND SUBJECT TO THE JURISDICTION THEREOF,. . . .” Rather important phrase there. Senator Jacob Howard, author of the 14th Amendment, remarked, the requirement of “jurisdiction,” understood in the sense of “allegiance,” “will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States.” (source: Heritage Guide to the Constitution, 2005)
Because the Indians were also ‘excused’ from citizenship as long as they retained ‘tribal alliance’, even they do not receive birthright citizenship under this Amendment.

Posted by LitlBits2010 | Report as abusive

[...] – Referring to the new Republican mission to keep Mexican’s from having babies in the United States. Forget the debt, let’s worry about “anchor babies” [Comment via Yellow 105 on Reuters] [...]