Skip to comments.GOP-led push to end birthright citizenship brewing in U.S. House
Posted on 11/20/2005 12:51:07 PM PST by Icelander
McALLEN A Republican-led effort in the U.S. House of Representatives seeks to change a constitutional amendment that grants American citizenship to any child born on the nations soil.
In an effort to deal with illegal immigration, some congressmen are actively discussing the possibility of banning birthright citizenship, also known as "anchor baby provisions," claiming undocumented women have babies on U.S. soil so their children can gain access to this countrys services and benefits.
When those children turn 21, they in turn can petition the federal government for citizenship for their parents and siblings.
The 14th Amendment gives citizenship to anybody born within the United States. To change this or any other amendment, there has to be a proposal in Congress or a constitutional convention from two-thirds of the nations state legislatures. Thirty-eight of 50 states must approve any changes to the constitution.
The issue of birthright citizenship could be part of a larger immigration reform bill available for discussion in Congress by the end of the year. Authors of the yet-to-be-named bill will be looking at the Citizenship Reform Act of 2005 for guidance. The act, which would end birthright citizenship, was introduced March 2 on the House floor and given to the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims, where it still sits. The reform package with a possible birthright citizenship ban will be presented to the full House first before it is assigned to a committee. If the bill is voted on by the full House, it will follow the same process in the Senate before going to President George W. Bush for his signature.
U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, R-Georgia, authored the reform act, securing 60 co-sponsors; nine of them are Texas Republicans: Kevin Brady, John R. Carter, Michael K. Conaway, John Abney Culberson, Sam Johnson, Kenny Marchant, Randy Neugebauer, Pete Sessions and Lamar Smith.
Many civil rights organizations say this is just another reactionary effort that eats away at this countrys founding principles.
Nathan Selzer, a representative of the Harlingen-based Valley Movement for Human Rights, said he was concerned about the latest anti-immigration move because they were attacks against citizenship. He said passing an immigration reform bill containing a ban on birthright citizenship would create "second-class citizenship."
"Theres no place for it," Selzer said. "It would require a constitutional amendment and striking one of the best constitutional amendments weve ever had. Lets make it clear that everyone is equal under the law."
But Rep. Thomas Tancredo, R-Colorado, a co-sponsor of Deals bill, said birthright citizenship is simply an enticement for people to cross illegally into the United States and needs to be banned.
"I have not seen it cross both sides (of the aisle in the House), and I dont know the extent there might be for change on the other side," Tancredo said in reference to Democrats during a phone interview this week with The Monitor while he was on the House floor. "My guess is it would be something they would not latch on to."
Tancredo said he might not need the support of border Democrats who object to a ban on birthright citizenship and other immigration reforms. Because illegal immigration has grown from its traditional presence in border areas to become a national concern, he might be able to count on interior state Democrats to join Republican reform efforts.
U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, took offense at Tancredos comments.
"We deal with these issues day in and day out, and blatantly disregarding input from the border members of Congress in discussions about immigration reform would be a serious mistake," he said in a statement prepared for The Monitor.
Todd Smith, Deals deputy chief of staff, said the congressman has been concerned about illegal immigration because the poultry and carpet industries in north Georgia use undocumented foreign labor. Deal was unavailable for an interview. "Its just an issue that has grown, grown more out of control," Smith said. "You see the gang violence, the issues, the things that go along with it."
Demetri Papademetriou, president of the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., said citizenship reforms stem from a lack of solutions to stop immigration from becoming an anything-goes procedure.
"I get frustrated by people who casually say, Lets just change it, like its yesterdays sheets," he said. "These people tend to not know about history or law.
"I worry about the cohesion, the staying together of this country if we start distinguishing people on the basis of who were born here but (are) not part of this society," he said.
CAN IT WORK?
Rasmussen Reports, a nonpartisan polling firm based in Ocean Grove, N.J., released a survey Nov. 7 saying 49 percent of 1,500 adults polled in the United States said they supported ending birthright citizenship. Forty-one percent of them wanted the practice to remain in tact.
The survey included 37 percent each of Republicans and Democrats and 26 percent of people who were not members of any political party."To some people it (banning birthright citizenship) makes sense, because why should someone who is here illegally gain the benefit of citizenship?" said Scott Rasmussen, the firms president. "To others, it speaks of discrimination. There is, overall, a general feel that there is an idea that has some instinctive support and is worthy of a public debate. Where it goes from there, Im not quite sure."
Families at the heart of birthright citizenship are of particular concern to the Washington, D.C.-based Hispanic advocacy and civil rights group National Council of La Raza,
Michele Waslin, the organizations director of immigration policy research, said children are not responsible for the immigration status of their parents. Changes to birthright citizenship only would increase the number of undocumented immigrants and create a permanent underclass of American citizens.
Waslin describes talk of banning birthright citizenship as extremist and a way to attack American values.
"I think the American public is opposed to punishing innocent children," she said. "Its irresponsible. It does nothing to enhance the immigration debate."
Tancredo, asked if reinstatement of the old immigration "quota" system would work, said quotas may limit who legally can enter the United States each year, but would separate families.
He said an equivalent of such a system already exists with the issuance of work and immigration visas.
"I think it would be harder to stop family unification than it would be to eliminate anchor baby provisions because people would say, my goodness, you are stopping people from being able to have their families join them," Tancredo said. "Its an emotional argument that is made."
TWEAKING THE U.S. CONSTITUTION
What indeed would cause debate would be a birthright citizenship ban that contradicts the U.S. Constitution, which allows that anyone born on U.S. soil automatically is a U.S. citizen.
Tancredo and Deal are using arguments made in Congress in 1868 to solidify their beliefs that the 14th Amendments language could be interpreted in different ways.
"In passing the 14th Amendment, (Sen. Lyman) Trumbull argued that the U.S.s jurisdiction was meant to cover only persons who did not ow(e) allegiance to anybody else, " Tancredo wrote recently in an op-ed piece his congressional office circulated. "(U.S. Sen. Jacob) Howard was even clearer, noting that the amendment 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."
The 14th Amendment states, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
Texas rejected the amendment on Oct. 27, 1866, but ratified it Feb. 18, 1870, according to information from the Emory University School of Law in Atlanta.
"It was never intended to grant citizenship to the children of illegal aliens," Smith said.
Mike Morrison, an immigration and municipal government professor at the Baylor University School of Law in Waco, said the words that could be up for interpretation in the amendment are "and subject to the jurisdiction thereof." He said the United States recognizes a citizens jus soli, Latin for "right of soil." People can be American citizens if they are born in a U.S.-held territory or land or on an Indian reservation.
"It does not matter, as long as they are subject to our jurisdiction," Morrison said. "It does not matter how the parent entered the U.S."
But the 14th Amendment would not apply to children born on foreign ships in American ports, he said.
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, said in a prepared statement for The Monitor that he did not like tampering with the Constitution.
Chris Paulitz, spokesman for U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, said homeland security needed to be considered if changes were made in how the 14th Amendment is interpreted.
"When parents from terrorist-harboring countries come to America temporarily and have children with no intention of those children growing up American or supporting our country their children are still U.S. citizens," Paulitz said in a statement prepared for The Monitor. "After growing up taught to hate America, they still have the ability to freely come and go in our country."
Deal chief of staff Smith, and Will Adams, Tancredos spokesman, both said the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately could decide whether a birthright citizenship ban would go against the Constitution.
Morrison said overruling the 14th Amendment could be done with a proposal from Congress and with a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate and three-fourths approval in the nations state Legislatures backing a new amendment that would nullify the original amendment.
Any decision to tamper with the 14th Amendment, whether in court or through legislation, could be considered an attack on the Constitution and American values, La Razas Waslin said.
"The Supreme Court has upheld birthright citizenship many times, and this is just one of those things that makes the U.S. a great country," she said.
William Gheen, president of the Raleigh, N.C.-based Americans for Legal Immigration which is against undocumented immigrants coming to the nation, said defeated congressmen sent back to their home districts would make room for new people who could bring fresh ideas on reforming immigration issues.
Tampering with birthright citizenship would be an "unfortunately necessary move" to shore up what he considers the exploitation of American generosity and sensitivity, Gheen said.
"You cannot bring millions of people (from) the Third World rapidly into your country without the country becoming the Third World environment they left," he said. "We can all enjoy higher crime rates, gang rule, once-vanquished diseases, lower income rates, more poverty, lower education rates, greater tax burdens."
Voters also could have a voice in the matter of birthright citizenship and Constitutional amendments, the Migration Policy Institutes Papademetriou said, and some races for public office next year could face, as a hot-button issue, how America treats foreigners.
"More people will decide to run on or against immigration," he said. "I dont think we want that. Its too much of an emotional issue to decide who our representatives will be. The country has more important fish to fry."
and a foreign born should never become the President of the USA. No, not even Arnold.
'subject to the jurisdiction' is the critical phrase. So long as illegals are getting gov't assistance of any kind, they are subject to the jurisdiction.
Interesting debate, and I can see the argument that with modern transportation systems and medicine, being born in a particular place is not as meaningful as 50 or 100 years ago. 75 years ago one did not just happen to be born someplace while your 8 month pregnant mom was visiting.
"Every Person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States. This 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, but will include every other class of persons."
Senator Jacob Howard,
co-author of the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment, 1866.
Visiting? More like searching for a green card.
It doesn't require a constitutional amendment. It just requires the courts to apply the 14th amendment as written.
Could it be that congressional Republicans are finally growing a spine after being patsies all this time??
The same courts that hold the McCain-Feingold Act to be constitutional and any reference to God or the Ten Commandments to be unconstitutional? Fat chance o' that.
That's to the good. There was another opinion by one of the co-authors of the 14th that allowed the corporation to be interpreted as a person, and that was in spite of nothing in the minutes that implied such an interpretation. Many will not accept the words from the horse's mouth, but only what actually appeared in the Amendment.
The SCOTUS won'y apply almost any part of the Constitution as it is written, why should the 14th Amendment be he exception?
I hope this isn't just for face time but is real (but I'm skeptical)
I know, I have to suppress my enthusiasm every time I hear a smidgeon of good news. It's all part of their plan to make us think they are actually doing something.
Visiting? More like searching for a green card.
Despite your parocial views, a reason to change US policy is not some issue that just affects a small part of the country. Your view might be some of it. Another issue is that we have had terrorist in Gitmo who only have US citizenship becaue they were born here when their parents were on student visa. That was not looking for a green card, but rather a complication in our national defense and gives intrusive federal judges a chance to get involved du to a technicality.
Despite the anti-Mexican faction on here, all us policy is not going to be run on that single issue.
and a foreign born should never become the President of the USA. No, not even Arnold.
that's what I do think....how sad, no?
This is just more window dressing.
Instead of this they should just secure the borders so nobody can come in.
Even if the kid doesn't get citizenship, nobody is going to go house to house, ask for papers and drag the illegals kicking and screaming across the border.
It's time we start focusing on the real issue, which is to stop the in-flow.
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