Support for Birthright Citizenship Reform on the Rise?

Meredith Jessup

8/8/2010 5:17:47 PM - Meredith Jessup
As the immigration debate simmers, the debate over birthright citizenship continues to heat up.  According to the Dallas Morning News, 60,000 infants are born to non-citizen parents and given U.S. birthright citizenship every year in Texas alone:

"They're violating our law, and we're giving their children the benefit of U.S. citizenship," said state Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, whose 2009 bill in the Legislature would have challenged the birthright of immigrant children.

That bill died in committee, although Berman has vowed to file another version next year that would prohibit the state from issuing birth certificates to the children of "illegal aliens."

"I've checked the Congressional Record for when the 14th Amendment was written, and the author was quoted as saying that it did not apply to foreigners," he said. "There's no question in my mind about it."

It's true--much of the debate surrounding the government's loose definition of "birthright citizenship" seems to be based in political games, not historical facts.  The 14th Amendment was meant to ensure freed slaves' citizenship rights, not for people entering the country illegally. 

But like many other things, history has been replaced with rhetoric.  Some Republicans on Capitol Hill are vowing to clarify the 14th Amendment and restore it to its original purpose.  House Minority Leader John Boehner has even signaled support for such a move, saying it's "worth considering":
House Minority Leader John Boehner on Sunday said he's open to talks on changing the U.S. Constitution -- or at least the way it's interpreted -- so that U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants are not automatically U.S. citizens.
"I think it's worth considering," Boehner said.

The top House Republican joined Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in calling for further study of the idea -- something that has been endorsed by prominent Republicans over the past few weeks. Though the call is already running into stiff opposition and faces extremely long odds of ever succeeding, some lawmakers say it would be a way to minimize the incentive for illegal immigration.