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.
Yes, 1924, not 1917. However, the law did not prove what you say. Per the 14th Amendment, Congress was not required to grant citizenship to Indians, but could choose whether or not to do so, and did so in 1924.
"Every Person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States. This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons."
Since illegal aliens are foreigners their offspring should not be granted automatic citizenship either unless Congress, like in 1924 grants it to them.
Cool. I can stay.
I hear ya, my ancestors were here in Virgina by then as well, but I think "length of time in the country tests" are just silly. There's only one issue I know of on which when your ancestors came to the US is a likely predictor (though not certain) of your views: gun control. Those whose forbears were here before the civil war (and more so those who were here before the revolution) are far more likely to oppose gun control than those whose ancestors arrived after the civli war. And, those whose forbears fought in those conflicts (American side for the revolution, either side for the Late Unpleasantness) are even more likely to oppose gun control.
Actually I got that after I responded.
I am in favor of the Fourteenth Amendment being redefined to clarify that any citizen of the United States must have been born of or adopted by a citizen or legal resident of the United States and that at least one parent or legal guardian prove citizenship or legal status before a birth certificate is issued by any agency. Any child born in the US not of a citizen or legal resident should be issued a certificate of birth with non-citizen status clearly marked so that birth may not be used to complicate deportations of illegal aliens.
Many states now define the Second Amendment with regards to concealed or open carry weapons, with federal and state restrictions placed on the sales and aquisitions of handguns. There is no logical reasoning state and federal governments can't better define and restrict the continued adulteration of the Fourteenth in the same manner.
Why the child of foreign tourists should get the citizenship? Or child of a foreign mother who just wanted to use American hospital?
Why the children of Americans traveling abroad should not get the US citizenship?
Certainly children born to people illegally staying in US should not be more privileged than children foreign diplomats who are legally.
That's very true, there's so many examples of where the Constitution is treated as a living document. The 14th Amendment could easily under those rules be redefined to better work for what is needed today. But they don't really need to do that if the courts and Congress just read what the authors of the Amendment intended instead of playing pc games.
This issue was settled a long time ago.
It does not have to be "cold hearted and calculating". When the child of illegal aliens grows up, the fact of being born in US and growing up in US might be a good argument in APPLYING for citizenship or green card. But it should not be automatic.
It has not been settled, the Supreme Court has never ruled on the citizenship status regarding children of illegals to my knowledge. The only case involved that of a Chinese legal immigrant, big difference.
Some wealthy people from other countries use leading American hospitals because of their quality. After their child is born they go back home. Why should they be receiving this extra gift?
My position is that this should never have been necessary, since I am sure that the Founding Fathers never envisioned an America of such poverty of Common-sense as to apply it to casual travelers, illegal criminals, indeed enemy spy moles hiding within a family.
If there are any rational arguments against this clarification, I have never seen any, nor heard of them.
I do believe that using sarcasm was intended as an argument in opposition to clarifying the law.
Yeah. Lame and mindless.
You know what, that is an extremely good point. Since this is a "Nation of Laws not of Men" perhaps that should be the qualifier in determining citizenship.
Should everybody be subject to the same citizen test LEGAL immigrants are required to take and pass before citizenship is bestowed upon them?
Should people born here would have to take the test upon reaching the age of 18 and take the oath of allegiance?
It is an interesting concept.
Well then.. I'm covered. Great, great, great, great ,great (whatever) grandfather John ... knew a good thing when he saw it, and moved the family here in 1765.
I know the AJC means for these pieces to tug at the heart strings but they never fail to provide the best laugh of the day in their absurdity.
Vicente Fox WAS regime change in Mexico. Hard as it may be to believe for people who have only begun paying attention recently, Fox is a huge improvement over what came before. I can tell you don't remember Lopez Portillo and Luis Echeverria very well, not to mention Salinas or Zedillo and the PRI. Or how even more terribly dysfunctional Mexico's economy was as recently as the 80s. Only decent president in recent history was de la Madrid. In Mexico there are a million people entering the workforce each year. They simply can't gen up the jobs that fast. If we are going to have to wait until Mexicans enjoy the same standard of living as we do to solve our illegal immigration problem, we will never solve it. You have described and justified a policy of wait until we are over-run. Or perhaps you don't believe it is a problem. It is Fox's job to look out for the interests of Mexicans, it is our job to look out for our country's interests. I don't hold it against Fox because he's doing his job, and we aren't.
When I was in high school back in the dark ages of the 1960s, you had to pass Civics (also known as American Institutions) in order to graduate. In order to pass Civics, you had to pass a test on our institutions (federal and California) that was very similar to the test then given to candidates for citizenship.