Illegal Immigration: Can States Win Fight against 'Birthright Citizenship'?

By Wood, Daniel B | The Christian Science Monitor, January 7, 2011 | Go to article overview

Illegal Immigration: Can States Win Fight against 'Birthright Citizenship'?


Wood, Daniel B, The Christian Science Monitor


Several state lawmakers want to make 'birthright citizenship' - the guarantee that all children born in the US are citizens - the next front against illegal immigration. It could be a tough battle.

As Arizona's controversial illegal immigration law remains stuck in legal limbo, a group of lawmakers from five states has pledged to launch another offensive against illegal immigration that, legal experts say, could run afoul of the Constitution.

Earlier this week, state legislators from Arizona, Georgia, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina said they were beginning a push to have as many states as possible pass measures that to deny citizenship rights to children born in the United States to illegal immigrants.

Most legal experts agree that the 14th Amendment of the Constitution guarantees citizenship to any person born in the US, regardless of parentage. But these lawmakers seek to follow in the steps of the Arizona immigration law, which ignited a national conversation on illegal immigration even though it could be declared unconstitutional by the courts. Similarly, the lawmakers hope to create a public groundswell against "birthright citizenship," forcing Congress to act.

"We are here to send a very public message to Congress," said Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R) at a press conference Tuesday. "We want to bring an end to the illegal-alien invasion that is having such a negative impact on our states."

Targeting birthright citizenship has clear economic and political appeal - "economic, since every state is facing severe budget shortfalls, [and] political, since birthplace citizenship does not require consent, and therefore does not demand complete, political allegiance to the US," says Catherine Wilson, an immigration specialist at Villanova University in Pennsylvania.

Yet she and others also suggest that birthright citizenship could be a difficult target for conservatives. The 14th Amendment is among the clearest passages of the Constitution, some legal experts say. It is fraught with racial sensitivities, given that it was passed after the Civil War to redress some of the injustices of slavery. And it is, some say, a symbol of the very American exceptionalism that conservatives value.

"Is birthplace citizenship an important and longstanding feature of American exceptionalism, or is it not?" Professor Wilson asks.

The 'anchor baby' debate

Hispanic officials argue that it is. "The Constitution's statement that anyone born in the US is a citizen is fundamental to our nation," says Rosalind Gold, senior analyst for the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO). "It is one of the core principles of US democracy that makes us distinct."

Birthright citizenship is a foundation stone of America's historic ability to assimilate immigrants and have them become productive members of the economy and society, immigrants-rights groups say.

But critics suggest that America is being overrun. "Having an estimated 340,000 children - roughly the population of St. Louis - born each year to illegal aliens or 'birth tourists' calls into question the whole concept of what citizenship really means," says Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a group which wants to restrict immigration.

The lawmakers taking aim at birthright citizenship have produced two model measures that could be introduced in state legislatures. One would create a version of "state citizenship" that would require at least one parent to be a citizen. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Illegal Immigration: Can States Win Fight against 'Birthright Citizenship'?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.