Birthright Citizenship: Babies of Illegals

By Minara El-Rahman on January 06, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Republican state legislatures are gearing up to cancel birthright citizenship for children born to illegal immigrants. Another crackdown on illegal immigrants, supporters say that is necessary in order to secure the border with Mexico. "The federal government has absolutely, totally and completely fallen down on its responsibility of protecting our nation's borders," Randy Terrill, an Oklahoma Republican, told Reuters.

There are currently at least 14 states that are working together to challenge U.S. birthright citizenship granted by the 14th Amendment.

While it would seem very clear that the 14th Amendment gives birthright citizenship to all children born on American soil, conservative American legislators say that they are not trying to change the Constitution. They are merely trying to pass legislation that would interpret the 14th Amendment in a way that would exclude the children born to illegal immigrants.

While that seems rational to Republicans in favor of this legislation, it does not sit well with many; including many scholars of the Constitution who say that such efforts are blatantly unconstitutional. The New York Times quotes Gabriel J. Chin, a law professor at the University of Arizona as saying, "It strikes me as unwise, un-American and unconstitutional."

According to FindLaw's LawBrain, the 14th Amendment's first section states:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Only time will tell whether such efforts to block birthright citizenship will be successful.

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