Skip to comments.Birthright Citizenship Under Attack
Posted on 09/29/2005 12:16:11 AM PDT by Hushpuppie
Silvia Moreno snuck across the U.S. border from Mexico and made it to Atlanta to join her husband last year.
When she gave birth this year, she named her daughter Scarlett, after Scarlett O'Hara.
Moreno, 26, had watched "Gone With the Wind" and was inspired by the Atlanta heroine.
"She worked so hard. She overcame adversity to survive," said Moreno, who wants her daughter to develop the same strength.
Scarlett Alvarado Moreno, 6 months, is a U.S. citizen because she was born here; her mother, father, and 4-year-old brother are illegal immigrants.
Millions of families like Scarlett's will be the focus of a hearing today before a U.S. House subcommittee in Washington to discuss birthright citizenship, dual citizenship and its effect on national sovereignty.
As President Bush opens the debate on a temporary worker program that could allow immigrant laborers to come into the United States, the issue of what happens to their children has come to the forefront.
Although revoking the birthright guarantee is not likely to be part of Congress' immigration reform agenda this fall, there are increasing signs lawmakers are thinking about altering a privilege grounded in common law and the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.
The proposals come in a post-9/11 time of increasing suspicion toward illegal immigrants. Several bills have been introduced.
Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) wants to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to limit automatic citizenship at birth to children of U.S. citizens and lawful residents. Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) introduced a constitutional amendment that also would limit birthright citizenship. Such an amendment would require ratification by three-fourths of the states.
A proposal by Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), who heads a 90-member caucus pushing to tighten immigration laws, would deny citizenship to U.S.-born children of temporary immigrant workers.
Tancredo said the provision is vital because temporary workers would not want to leave after their visas expire if their children are U.S. citizens, or so-called anchor babies.
Moreno, of Atlanta, thinks it's unjust to deny citizenship to children born in the United States because their parents, although illegal, work hard.
"People work so much, and they give their youth to this country," Moreno said.
Moreno wanted Scarlett to be an American because with the blue American passport, "the doors of the world are open to her," she said.
Mexicans have a harder time getting tourist visas to see the world, she said.
Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a national group that lobbies to reduce illegal immigration, said the lure of U.S. citizenship for children is a "huge incentive" for people to come to the United States illegally because it opens the door to many social benefits.
Also, once they reach 21, the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants can petition for their parents' residency. Family reunification often is cited as a reason for amnesty proposals.
There were 6.3 million illegal immigrant families in the United States in 2004, according to a study released in June by the Pew Hispanic Center. Most of them 59 percent do not have children, the study said.
But nearly one-third of families headed by illegal immigrants do have children who are U.S. citizens, the study said.
Immigrant advocates and Hispanic groups say finding work is the major motivation for illegal immigration.
"The only thing that this kind of change gets you ... is stateless people, which doesn't solve any problem," said Cecilia Munoz, vice president for policy at the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights organization.
"This is not a matter of immigration policy, this is a matter of changing who we are fundamentally as a nation," she said.
The United States grants citizenship to every child born in the United States with the exception of children of occupying forces and foreign diplomats, who keep the citizenship of their home country, said Peter J. Spiro, an international law professor at the University of Georgia School of Law who is testifying at today's hearing.
Spiro said that proposals to change the birthright citizenship have been around since the mid-1990s, but several court decisions have upheld the citizenship.
"It's part now of our entrenched constitutional tradition that all children born in the territory of the United States are deemed citizens at birth," he said.
Ides Mercado, 19, who said she came from Honduras five years ago on a visa, warned of consequences if the birthright provision is revoked.
"There will be a lot of illegals here if they don't let the children be citizens," she said as she pushed a stroller with her 7-month-old daughter through Plaza Fiesta on Buford Highway in DeKalb County.
Daisy Montoya Becerra, 24, of Atlanta has one son born here, one son born in Mexico and another child on the way.
She's glad her younger son has U.S. citizenship.
"If he weren't a citizen, they'd take away Medicaid," she said.
She's also happy her younger son will be able to cross the border freely instead of having to slip across with a smuggler.
"With papers, he can come and go easily," she said.
Yup. WAY past time to get rid of the "anchor baby" statute.
Here is my plan,
If you have no ancestors who were in the "New World" in the year 1776, your children are not entitled to citizenship at birth.
"There will be a lot of illegals here if they don't let the children be citizens"
Uh - there aren't already?
What's the logic here?
I especially liked this part!! Oh so true!
Here's the problem... you just ruled out the vast majority of Americans, myself included. My grandmother (English) married my grandfather (son of Scotish immigrants from mid 1800's) after WWII. My mother was born in England and was brought to the US shortly thereafter.
Please explain to me why I don't deserve to be a US citizen at birth, as I am the grandson of an Army veteran who fought in WWII and his English wife, and the son of a woman who spent less than two years of her life in the UK.
Do the same for all of the other Irish, Italian, German, and other immigrants that flooded the US in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Not to mention the Asians from the 1800's and others.
(Denny Crane: "Sometimes you can only look for answers from God and failing that... and Fox News".)
That's about the most ridiculous plan I've heard.
I was being sarcastic. Frustrated, but sarcastic.
Ooooh. Poor widdle cwiminals need a hug?
You don't watch C-Span, do you? :-}
I agree with you and I think the provision that anybody born on our soil is an automatic citizen sets us apart from pretty much every other nation.
American citizenship is associated directly with the ideas that our nation is founded on. It evokes an immediate sense of hope, freedom, and liberty.
Furthermore, the idea that such human rights that we enjoy in our country are the birthright of every human being is important, and the granting of citizenship as a birthright to all born on our soil is a symbol of that birthright.
The problem is illegal immigrants getting into our country. Yes, many of the privileges they enjoy here act as an incentive, but do we want to live in a country that is cold hearted and calculating? We need to close our borders to illegal immigration, improve our immigration laws through reform, start enforcing the laws we do have, and above all do the moral and just thing.
First, let's start with closing the border to illegal immigration. Discussion on what to do with the ones who are here is secondary to that question, and we can take our time solving that problem as we untangle the social and economic consequences. As always, anything we'd like to see done is more complicated than it first appears.
He is indeed anti-PC.
North or South Carolina?
Seeings how I think all illegals should be scooped up with a bulldozer and redeposited back in their country of origin, I would say "No" to their children being citizens.
Hey, wait a minute. My ancestors came over in the 1840's. I don't like your plan!
Actually, I take that back. I forgot my Great-Grandmother was a direct descendant of a Revolutionary War Hero.
You can get a special dispensation. It will cost you 2 goats and a copper pot (no dents or holes)
"Seeings how I think all illegals should be scooped up with a bulldozer and redeposited back in their country of origin, I would say "No" to their children being citizens."
What if someone's not an immigrant, just visiting from another country, on vacation or something, and they give birth while over here. Still a big fat "no"?