Efforts to Revoke Birthright Citizenship Move to State Level

Julianne Hing Oct 20, 2010

If you thought ending birthright citizenship and anti-immigrant slurs like “anchor babies” might go away after the elections wrapped up, we’ve got news for you.

Elise Foley reports for the Washington Independent that State Legislators for Legal Immigration, a coalition of immigration-restrictionist lawmakers in 41 states, is kicking off a national effort this week to get states to pass bills that rewrite the Constitution. The fourteenth amendment guarantees citizenship to anyone born in the U.S., regardless of the immigration status of the baby’s parents. If groups like the 14th Amendment Citizens Model Committee gets its way though, that right will be limited to people whose parents are legal residents or U.S. citizens.

At least a dozen Republican state lawmakers have plans to introduce bills in their states’ next legislative session to revoke birthright citizenship rights for kids born to undocumented immigrants. SB 1070-author and Arizona state Rep. Russell Pearce has already announced his plans to do so.

Right-wing lawmakers know what they’re proposing is currently against the law, and that’s the point. They’re itching for a legal battle so that they can get the Supreme Court to take up the issue. Legal scholars argue that the Constitution’s language on birthright citizenship is crystal clear. It 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.”

And yet the bills are on their way soon. Pearce has promised to deliver his by January. Check out Victor Goode’s breakdown of the right’s constitutional revisionism here.

Threats to roll back the 14th amendment’s birthright citizenship clause often sound too hare-brained to take seriously. But if right-wing lawmakers have their way, the talk may soon become bills, which may become laws.

This article originally appeared on ColorLines.

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