Arizona GOP targets children born to undocumented immigrants

May 1 2010 immigrant rights march in Chicago


Arizona Republicans say they plan to introduce new legislation this fall that, if passed, would block the children of undocumented immigrants from becoming citizens if they were born in the United States.

Arizona is already facing a national boycott by other U.S. states and cities following its introduction of a controversial law, S.B. 1070, signed by Republican Gov. Jan Brewer in April. That law requires police to determine a person's immigration status if there is "reasonable suspicion" they are undocumented.

Both measures are the brainchild of state Sen. Russell Pearce who argues that children born on American soil to non-U.S. citizens should be barred from attaining birth certificates.

Federal law under the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution automatically grants citizenship to any child born in the country regardless of their parents' legal status.

Speaking to Time magazine last week Pearce said Latino immigrants that end up in the U.S. "is an orchestrated effort by them to come here and have children to gain access to the great welfare state we've created."

Calling children born to immigrant parents "anchor babies," Pearce adds the 14th amendment has been "hijacked" by undocumented immigrants.

"They use it as a wedge issue," he says.

Gov. Brewer and other Arizona Republicans have indicated their support for Pearce's new proposal and his anti-immigrant agenda.

In a recent interview with Tucson ABC affiliate KGUN Brewer said, "It's illegal to trespass into our country. And people have determined that they want to take that chance. They can take their children back with them."

However opponents of the proposed legislation say such a move is contrary to the Constitution and the American spirit. And although such a measure would not reach the Arizona Senate floor for months, critics say they are ready to fight it from the start and are not taking any chances.

Kyrsten Sinema, a Democratic state representative in Arizona who is a fierce opponent to S.B. 1070 speaking to CNN said, "Unlike [Senate Bill] 1070, it is clear this bill runs immediately afoul of the U.S. Constitution."

She notes, "While I understand that folks in Arizona and across the country support S.B. 1070, they do so because we have seen no action from the federal government. Unfortunately, the so-called ‘anchor baby' bill does nothing to solve the real problems facing Arizona."

Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona told the Daily Caller, "We will definitely challenge if it does get passed. It is clearly unconstitutional, discriminatory and it fuels this anti-immigrant agenda. That really is not what our state needs right now," she said.

Pearce has proposed similar bills in Arizona twice before, but both attempts were voted down in the state's House. Pearce is a long-time critic of the modern interpretation of the 14th amendment. He has a whole section on his website in which he argues why the original authors of the amendment never would have extended the right to undocumented immigrants.

Ratified in the aftermath of the Civil War in 1868, the amendment reads, "All persons, born or naturalized in the United Sates, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States."

The amendment was drafted in order to secure the citizenship and Constitutional rights of freed slaves and their children.

Previous efforts, including one in the late 19th century challenging the citizenship of the children of Chinese immigrants, have been unsuccessful.

The right of Arizona to attempt to deny U.S. citizenship could ultimately end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

"It's blatantly unconstitutional," said Sinema to the Daily Caller. Sinema, who was a constitutional lawyer before her election to the Arizona House says Pearce's new proposal won't pass muster and it's in direct violation of the 1868 amendment.

"There's no way this would ever go into effect, and he knows it," she said.




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  • Just remove food stamps and medicaid from the freebies allowed and you would resolve the problem nation wide, and obestity would be no more

    Posted by yoyo, 06/22/2010 10:58am (6 years ago)

  • If we are depending on the Roberts court to uphold basic rights, we are just whistling Dixie.

    This court has to be changed before the next presidential election. One of the right wingers has to resign.

    Posted by Ronald Humphrey, 06/18/2010 6:08am (6 years ago)

  • It's a sad thing. How does Sen Russell Pearce know every purpose & every thought of the promoters/voters of constitutional Amendment 14. Makes you wonder what sort of life he has not had to feel so entitled. He doesn't even know how he represents himself to America. He comes against the core of how it feels to become an American. Maybe the light will come on somehow, so pray for him. This issue makes me no longer say, I am a Republican. It's good to have the option of marking... Independent. I am a veteran & love the oath we say when we enlist in military service. I'm a conservative which knows, "wrong is wrong." And I will fight for our freedoms. They are not free. Arizona get out & vote or register & rally for others to do the same. Unfortunately, I'll have to check out his website.
    signed.....A displeased Arizonaian & U.S. born citizen.... Now that isn't even safe anymore. Sad.

    Posted by Maria Sylvia Byars, 06/16/2010 8:01pm (6 years ago)

  • "Wedge issue" is precisely what this stunt is. It is blatantly unconstitutional and the people pushing it KNOW that it won't hold up (not even with the right-wing Roberts court). Their point is not that they think they can actually make this law; their point is to use the issue to spread racism and to divide the working class.

    Posted by Brad Janzen, 06/16/2010 10:00am (6 years ago)

  • This is an extremely important issue. There is actually a national movement to "strip" citizenship from the children of the undocumented. The 14th Amendment is clear. At the time that it was being debated in Congress (just after the Civil War) some of the pro-slavery, anti Reconstruction Congressmen raised the issue that as written, it would cover the children of Chinese and "Gypsies" (Roma) born in the United States. The "Radical Republican" sponsors of the amendment made absolutely clear that they were aware of this and intended such people to be covered.
    So I think laws like the proposed one in Arizona would fail a constitutionality test (though who really knows, with the Roberts court -- they just have declared corporations to be persons for free speech purposes, so maybe they are capable of declaring children of immigrants to be un-persons). Some of the anti-immigrant politicians are proposing a constitutional amendment to redefine citizenship in a more restricted and repressive way.

    Posted by Emile Schepers, 06/15/2010 11:29pm (6 years ago)

  • In any case the Arizona Republicans trying to pass this Unconstitutional Law ARE THE EFFECT OF or ARE "ANCHOR BABIES."

    Posted by johanna A, 06/15/2010 5:23pm (6 years ago)

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