Arizona state politicians will introduce model legislation this week to encourage states to prevent children of illegal immigrants from being granted citizenship under the 14th Amendment.
Lawmakers in at least 14 states have said they are committed to passing the legislation targeting birthright citizenship. Arizona's anti-illegal-immigrant bill, SB-1070, was also based on model legislation that could be easily copied by states, and at least seven states are likely to pass bills similar to the first Arizona immigration overhaul this year, according to one analysis by an immigrants rights group.
Arizona state Senator Russell Pearce will unveil the bill Jan. 5 in Washington, D.C., the Arizona Capital Times reports. The paper says lawmakers in Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah have said they want to introduce similar legislation this year.
Pearce argues that the "original intent" of the 14th Amendment was to grant citizenship to freed U.S. slaves, and that it was never meant to apply to the children of foreigners. A Phoenix New Times writer, however, argues that lawmakers who originally passed the amendment took into account the cases of children of Chinese immigrants in California as well as children of gypsies when drafting the measure. A 19th-century Supreme Court precedent also backs that interpretation, though no Supreme Court case has yet dealt with the issue of offspring of illegal immigrant parents.
The amendment states: "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."
Ali Noorani of the immigrant-rights group the National Immigration Forum told The Lookout that he believes leaders in more states will try to counter the thrust of the birthright initiative by adopting resolutions that eschew state laws cracking down on illegal immigration. Religious and political leaders in Utah recently signed a compact advocating for a "humane" approach to immigration, which other states could copy.