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Anti-Immigration Legislators seek to alter 14th Amendment

January 7, 2011

On Wednesday it was announced that six state legislators from Arizona, Georgia, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina were submitting a proposed legislative amendment that would drastically alter the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.

Not surprising is the fact that one of these legislators is from Arizona, a state which has led an effort to make it even more difficult for documented and undocumented immigrants to have a chance at making a life for themselves and their families in the US.

Then on Thursday, Iowa Republican Steve King added his name to the list of legislators wanting to alter the 14th Amendment and introduced H.R. 140, the “Birthright Citizenship Act of 2011.” Congressman King issued the following statement to clarify his support for this legislation:

“The current practice of extending U.S. citizenship to hundreds of thousands of ‘Anchor Babies’ every year arises from the misapplication of the Constitution’s citizenship clause and creates an incentive for illegal aliens to cross our border. The ‘Birthright Citizenship Act of 2011’ ends this practice by making it clear that a child born in the United States to illegal alien parents does not meet the standard for birthright citizenship already established by the Constitution. Passage of this bill will ensure that immigration law breakers are not rewarded, will close the door to future waves of extended family chain migration, and will help to bring an end to the global ‘birth tourism’ industry.”

Numerous national civil liberties and immigrant rights groups have responded rapidly to such a draconian measure. The National Council of La Raza said, “These thoughtless and unnecessary proposals take our country in the wrong direction—away from inclusion and away from our core American values.  The citizenship clause is a bedrock principle of civil rights and part of what makes us all Americans.  Never in our nation’s history have we amended the Constitution to take away someone’s rights, and we should not do so now.”

The National Immigration Law Center responded in part by saying, The legislators who threaten to roll back this sacred value do more than play fast and loose with the Constitution; they suggest that we as a society should treat some American children less favorably than other American children. The National Immigration Law Center stands with civil rights, children’s advocacy, and faith organizations, as well as millions of American parents, who condemn this attack on babies.

Lastly, Lucas Guttentag, Director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, said, “It would be hard to concoct a proposal that is more misguided and contrary to the sacrosanct guarantee of the 14th Amendment. Equality under the law for every person born in the United States is one of the Constitution’s central engines of equality and fundamental to our society.”

GRIID will continue to monitor this proposed legislation and post additional analysis as this unfolds. In the meantime there is an online petition being circulated by the National Council of La Raza.


5 Comments leave one →
  1. Kate Wheeler permalink
    January 8, 2011 7:13 pm

    This is not only unacceptable, it’s also crazy. Citizenship has always been defined by one of two legal principles: jus soli (“the right of the soil”) or jus sanguinis (“the right of the blood”). In other words, you’re either a citizen because you were born on the soil of a certain country,as in the US, or you’re a citizen because of the bloodline of your family (as in countries such as Italy, Germany, France, India, Ireland, etc.)

    This amendment seeks to create a weird hybrid, by which you have jus soli, but only if you also have a degree of jus sanguinis: if you’re born in the US you’ll have citizenship, but only if one of your parents is a US citizen.

    As various civil rights have pointed out, this creates a tiered system of classes of citizenship in the US, which is in direct violation of our foundational principle of equal justice for all. It denies citizenship to large groups of people living in our country. It will also create a bureaucratic nightmare in which every infant born here will have to have its credentials reviewed in order to confer or deny citizenship.

    And it takes a clearcut legal principle, upheld by the Constitution, and turns it into a pastiche over which–guaranteed–many loopholes and legal twists and turns will lock up the court system even further than it is already. It does nothing to address our bungled and stalled-out path to obtaining citizenship; instead, it just creates more delays and difficulties.

    This is political grandstanding at its worst.

  2. todd permalink
    January 9, 2011 11:37 pm

    Finally! This is one of the dumbest parts of our constitution. This was written when America needed to build up it’s numbers fast enough to counter the other great powers of the world. It doesn’t make sense today. I lived in France for a while, and for all that Americans like to dog on the French, they’ve got it together. They had Turks come to work there after WW2 and their descendents are still not citizens. Why? Cause they’re not French! So, they reserve the right to send em back when they become too burdensome. The Netherlands are already doing so, now the French just lack the balls to do it! If we didn’t have the 14th Amendment, we could be kicking out a ton of people and I’d probably have a decent paying job! Problem is, now the government is controlled by treasonous multi national corporations that have no allegience to the US. Basically, they can send the jobs wherever they want and force us to compete with slave labor in other parts of the world. Kick out the un-American multi nationals, get rid of the birth right, and I’ll be able to go back to making a decent wage picking fruit just as my great-grandfather did!

    By the way, La Raza is a rascist group. Sure, they have their public “face”, but they’re all about conquering and brown pride. If you think they’re all about togetherness and all that, then I guess you’d buy the neo-nazi’s line about “this isn’t about hate, it’s about loving ones own race”. A racist is a racist, white, black, or brown!

  3. January 10, 2011 4:07 pm

    Todd, I am going to have to disagree with you on this one. I think the 14th Amendment should be left alone. I have worked with refugees and immigrants for years and this is one of the only legal protects that people have from the government, the right of children born in the US to become citizens.

    I also disagree with your claim that the National Council of La Raza is a racist group. I am not aware of any evidence to support such a claim and I have known people who are members of this organization who in no way are discriminatory or exclusionary. I do believe that they confront White Supremacy, which is an ideology and does not mean they are anti-White.

  4. todd permalink
    January 20, 2011 1:33 am

    Jeff, we will probably have to agree to disagree on this. I think birth right citizenship is a bad idea. Then again, I don’t think Europeans living in South Africa have the right to call themselves African either, so that should give you some insight into my way of thinking! Then again, maybe I’m just a bit jealous that I can’t go to another country, have a baby, and have that baby be granted citizenship automatically. I believe the US is in the minority of state that do so. Most states don’t for good reason.

    As far as “La Raza” is concerned. I’m offended that any group would have the gall to call itself “The Race” as if they are THE only race. It’s a horrible PR mistake at best. Still, I work with a large number of convicts, current and ex-gang members who on more than one occasion have expressed the idea of “la raza” to me. It’s not a friendly one I assure you! Several have explained in detail how they view themselves as the foot soldiers in making US citizens second class citizens who only exist to serve “la raza”. I’ve even asked them about the official group of La Raza and they laugh and say it’s all a freindly face for us to be seduced by. Ramblings of convicts? Maybe, but the imagery and tattoos that they are covered in tells me they are quite commited. In fact, they remind me of Aryan Nation gang members almost exactly, except they’re not white. I have to believe that at least elements of this group are dangerous.


  1. Anti-Immigration Legislators seek to alter 14th Amendment (via Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy) « The Wobbly Goblin

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