The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees U.S. citizenship for any person who is born in the United States and subject to the federal government’s jurisdiction. Conferring citizenship upon birth – called birthright citizenship – has recently come under attack by immigration opponents who allege that undocumented foreign nationals take advantage of the birthright citizenship clause. The faulty reasoning is that foreign nationals will give birth to children in the U.S. and then will eventually qualify for immigration benefits through sponsorship from their U.S. citizen children.
House Republicans have taken aim at birthright citizenship in a political move that will likely further discourage immigration advocates from supporting the GOP in the upcoming presidential election.
The Birthright Citizenship Act
Mr. Steve King, a Republican Congressman from Iowa, and Mr. David Vitter, a Republican Senator from Louisiana, have recently introduced the Birthright Citizenship Act into their respective chambers in Congress.
Senator Vitter has been particularly outspoken about his plans to change the interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment. He first introduced his bill back in 2011. If passed, the bill would alter the Immigration and Nationality Act to prevent birthright citizenship unless one of the child’s parents is a U.S. citizen, a lawful permanent resident (green card holder), or a foreign national in active duty for one of the U.S. military branches.
Representative King’s bill mirrors the Senate version.
At this time, neither bill has been scheduled for a vote, nor is it a certainty that either will even reach that stage in the lawmaking process. However, the mere fact that the bills were introduced may symbolize the GOP’s continued and misplaced determination to forestall any real movement on comprehensive and common sense immigration reform.
Democrats Respond to the Birthright Citizenship Act
Democrats are predictably furious about the bills and have referred to the legislation as “outrageous” and demonstrative of the Republican Party’s commitment to making life hard for foreign nationals.
Additionally, in response to the legislation, a number of pro-immigration advocacy groups have formed a coalition and published a report highlighting what they call the “2015 GOP mass deportation agenda.”
Republicans’ Defense of the Act
Recently, a Congressional committee held a hearing to discuss the Birthright Citizenship Act and the issue of birthright citizenship in general. The Republicans responded equally vociferously to the Democrats’ critiques, with Representative King going so far as to accuse the Democrats of supporting birthright citizenship as a ploy to win elections. Representatives from the Claremont Institute’s Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence and the Center for Immigration Studies provided testimonies arguing that birthright citizenship is not only bad policy but also unnecessary under the Fourteenth Amendment.
It is very disheartening to witness members of Congress yet again play party politics in what will almost certainly amount to a waste of time and a further delay to the passage of comprehensive immigration reform. Immigration advocates are urged to contact their representatives and impress upon them that the country and its economy are waiting for Congress to deliver on its promise of immigration reform. Continue to check back with our blog for the most up to date news on this legislation and all other immigration-related issues.
Additional Blog Posts
Immigration Judges Request Separation from the Department of Justice, ImmigRantings, August 19, 2013
Congress Attempts to Implement Measures to Protect Immigrants from Notarios, ImmigRantings, September 27, 2013