Washington D.C. – The legislator behind Arizona’s restrictive new immigration law, SB 1070, is continuing his crusade against immigrants with calls to restrict birthright citizenship. This is not the first time efforts have been made to diminish the Fourteenth Amendment. Several bills have been introduced over the years that would deny U.S. citizenship to children whose parents are in the U.S. illegally or on temporary visas.
The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution – the cornerstone of American civil rights – affirms that, with very few exceptions, all persons born in the U.S. are U.S. citizens, regardless of the immigration status of their parents. Following the Civil War and the emancipation of the slaves, the Fourteenth Amendment restated the longstanding principle of birthright citizenship, which had been temporarily erased by the Supreme Court’s “Dred Scott” decision that denied birthright citizenship to the U.S.-born children of slaves. The Supreme Court has upheld birthright citizenship several times since then.
In the past few years, renewed efforts to restrict birthright citizenship have surfaced in several states, including Texas, California, and now Arizona. While proponents understand that states cannot repeal birthright citizenship, it is their hope to advance the national debate and mount a challenge to the Fourteenth Amendment in the Supreme Court. To date, none of these proposals have advanced very far, but the divisiveness of the current immigration debate and Congress’ failure to reform the system is resulting in extreme laws being introduced in a great number of states.
To view the fact sheet and blog post on Birthright Citizenship, see:
- Ending Birthright Citizenship: Unconstitutional, Impractical, Expensive, Complicated and Would Not Stop Illegal Immigration (IPC Fact Check, June 15, 2010)
- Ending Birthright Citizenship Won’t Solve Our Immigration Problems (ImmigrationImpact.com blog post, June 15, 2010)