U.S. state lawmakers target ‘birthright’ citizenship

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – State lawmakers launched a  drive today to deny citizenship to the U.S.-born  children of illegal immigrants, a move that rights groups and  Hispanic activists slammed as impractical and mean-spirited.
Lawmakers from Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, South Carolina,  Georgia and Arizona unveiled a legal model they said would be  pushed in up to 40 states to deny birthright citizenship to  children of illegal immigrants — a right anchored in the 14th  Amendment to the Constitution.
The proposed legislation would require that all birth  certificates note the citizenship or immigration status of the  parents, including whether they are in the country legally.
The lawmakers hope such a law would provoke lawsuits and  force a review of the 14th Amendment by the U.S. Supreme Court  or Congress.
Previous attempts by states to regulate immigration have  met with legal challenges on grounds they interfere with the  federal government’s responsibility over the issue.
“I’ve long considered birthright citizenship to be the holy  Grail of the illegal immigration debate,” Oklahoma Republican  state Representative Randy Terrill said in a statement.
“It has created a perverse incentive for foreign nationals  to break U.S. law and proven to be a policy disaster for our  Republic,” he added.
The news conference in Washington where the plan was  announced was interrupted by protesters who criticized the  legislators as  racist, causing a scuffle between supporters  and protesters.
President Barack Obama took office two years ago promising  an immigration overhaul, including tighter security at the  border with Mexico and a path to citizenship for millions of  illegal immigrants. He made no major headway and Republicans  who won a sweeping victory in midterm elections are promising  to get tough on immigration.
The 14th Amendment, which guarantees citizenship to “all  persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject  to the jurisdiction thereof,” was adopted in 1868 after the  U.S. Civil War to ensure citizenship for former  African-American slaves.
The state lawmakers’ proposal was criticized by civil  rights groups, immigration reform and Hispanic activists, who  called the proposal “inflammatory, impractical and immoral.”
“These approaches would throw hospitals, families, and  society into chaos, requiring the government to come into every  delivery room to determine the paternity of the child and the  status of his or her parents,” said Janet Murguia, president of  the National Council of La Raza.
“This is clearly an attack on the Fourteenth Amendment,”  said senior policy analyst Michele Waslin at the Immigration  Policy Center, adding it “is clearly against the fundamental  ideas that America is based on and it’s very mean-spirited.”

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