Stockton, CA / Bilingual Weekly
On Wednesday, January 5, 2011, the group State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI), led by their founder, Pennsylvania Congressman Daryl Metcalfe, called a press conference on the first day of the 112th Congress in session at the National Press Club in Washington DC.. In it, SLLI members announced two measures they plan on introducing in State Legislatures around the country that, in essence, re-interpret the 14th Amendment to the Constitution that grants automatic U.S. citizenship to all children born on U.S. soil.
“Today we are here in Washington D.C. to serve Congress with notice that both the U.S. Constitution and the federal government were created by the states,” said Metcalfe. “Just like any other national policy, America’s immigration laws must protect the lives, liberty and property of American citizens, rather than foreign invaders.”
The 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, Acts, Bills, and Laws, Citizenship Rights, Section 1, says:
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.
Thus —irrelevant of his or her parents’ nationality or immigration status— any baby born within the U.S. borders has the inalienable right to citizenship and no State can take it away. SLLI charges that foreign nationals are exploiting and abusing this right —“Currently, hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens are crossing U.S. borders to give birth and exploit their child as an anchor baby, as a means to obtain residency, access taxpayer-funded benefits and steal American jobs for themselves and for their families,” accuses Metcalfe, adding the practice cost American taxpayers “$113 billion annually, or nearly $1,117 yearly per individual taxpayer.”
The first of two SLLI proposals —meant to be introduced this year in at least 14 State Legislatures around the country— would recognize U.S. citizenship only on those born to at least one parent who is either a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. The second proposal would order the State to issue two types of Certificate of Birth —one for natural-born U.S. citizens and another for babies born to people “whom the state does not consider a citizen.”
Reaction to the proposals was immediate. Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Council —an immigration policy think-tank based in Washington, D.C. — said they constitute “a vicious assault on the U.S. Constitution and flies in the face of generations of efforts to expand civil rights. Moreover, it is an attack on innocent children born in the U.S. who would be confined to a new second-class citizenship and vulnerable to abuse and discrimination.”
Arizona State Senate President Russell Pearce stated that, “The law is clear, the history is clear, the 14th Amendment is clear; natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens, for, if he is born there of a foreigner, it will be only the place of his birth, and not his country.”
Margaret Moran, National President for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC,) the country’s largest and oldest Hispanic civil rights organization, added “If these legislators were to succeed, every parent would need to prove to skeptical government bureaucrats that their children are entitled to the twisted definitions of U.S. Citizenship that each state could, at their option, contrive to adopt.”
In Stockton, CA, Jose Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Council for the Spanish Speaker (El Concilio) said these actions do nothing to solve the immigration problem, and deny the immense contribution (undocumented) immigrants make to this country. “First you go after one parent, then they will want both… where do you draw the line?” says Rodriguez, “besides… I do not see how all this will get the economy going again”
Stockton Latino activist Angel Picon sees a bit further. “Every year 50,000 people reach voting age, if a bunch of them are going to be Latino it will not look good for the Republican Party’s future,” said Picon, “that’s the bottom line.”
Although there were legislators from only five states at Wednesday’s press conference, SLLI claims the allegiance of members of at least 40 state legislatures.
- 8 reasons to leave 14th Amendment alone (cnn.com)
- Republicans challenge US birthright citizenship (alternet.org)
- Birthright citizenship: challenge to 14th Amendment (seattlepi.com)
- Legislators set sights on ‘anchor babies’ (cnn.com)
- Being Born in U.S. No Longer Good Enough for Republican State Lawmakers (abovethelaw.com)
- Latino community reacts to efforts against birthright citizenship (cnn.com)
- James C. Ho: Birthright Citizenship and the 14th Amendment (online.wsj.com)
- State lawmakers target automatic citizenship (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- GOP state legislators aim to redefine citizenship (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Battling over birthright citizenship (politico.com)