Denying citizenship to U.S. born children is racist

Some members of Congress are pushing to challenge the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which grants automatic citizenship to anyone born in the country.

Republicans that favor anti-immigrant policies are using the issue as an attempt to foster political fear-mongering in order to pander to their conservative voting base as November elections near, critics charge.

The real argument, activists say is rooted in the battle for comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway toward legalizing the country’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.

According to a recent study published this week by the Pew Hispanic Center, about 340,000 of the 4.3 million babies born in the U.S. in 2008 – or 8 percent – had at least one undocumented parent.

The study notes 79 percent of the 5.1 million children born to undocumented parents in the U.S. were born here, making them citizens.

Based on March 2009 census figures, children of undocumented immigrants make up 7 percent of all people in the country younger than 18 years old.

About 85 percent of undocumented immigrants are Latino, says the report.

During a Fox News interview last month Republican Senator Lindsey Graham from North Carolina said that many immigrants were crossing the border to have their babies in order to gain citizenship.

“They come here to drop a child,” he said.

Texas State Rep. Debbie Riddle, another Republican, said some pregnant women from other countries are traveling to the U.S. to give birth and then taking their babies back home to raise them as terrorists that would return to attack America.

However the Pew figures find that most undocumented mothers did not arrive recently.

More than 80 percent of undocumented mothers had been here for more than a year, and more than half had been in the country for five years or more.

Subhash Kateel, a community organizer with the Florida Immigrant Coalition in Miami told the Orlando Sentinel that immigrant families contribute greatly to society and have grown deep roots in America. Their children are the future nurses, police officers, teachers and engineers, he said.

“They are people who have been here for years and are part of the community,” Kateel adds. “The discussion of taking away citizenship is unconstitutional, un-American and flat-out racist.”

Sister Ann Kendrick, a Roman Catholic nun with the Hope CommUnity Center in Apopka, Fla., told the Sentinel the debate about immigrants’ children being denied citizenship is shocking.

“I don’t know of anybody in all my years here who came to just have a baby,” she said.

“People come here desperate because they need something better for their family and they want to have a job and they want their kids to go to school and they want good things for their families.”

A nationwide survey in June by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, a group affiliated with the Hispanic Center, found that 56 percent of those polled opposed changing the 14th Amendment, while 41 percent supported it.

Meanwhile the Senate passed a $600 million measure Thursday to add Border Patrol agents and equipment to strengthen protection of the U.S.-Mexico border. The House passed the measure earlier in the week. In May President Obama announced plans to deploy 1,200 National Guard troops to the border.

“These votes show that both parties are more interested in political posturing and finger-pointing than in finding real solutions,” said Clarissa Martinez De Castro, director of Immigration and National Campaigns with the National Council of La Raza, in a statement.
“Our community is experiencing firsthand the consequences of political demagoguery and congressional inaction, and Latino voters are paying attention,” she said.

“The lack of solutions in Washington means that states are pushing ahead with measures that move toward legitimizing the racial profiling of Latinos and others, while allowing politicians to demonize and scapegoat minority communities for their political gain. It’s time to put an end to pandering to political extremes and get to the real solutions that American voters want.”

Photo: Pepe Lozano




Pepe Lozano
Pepe Lozano

Chicagoan Pepe Lozano was a staff writer with the People's World through 2014. He comes from an activist family and has lived on the city's southwest side in a predominantly Mexican-American community his whole life. Lozano now works as a union organizer.