Author of Arizona law plans to target immigrants’ children
UPDATE: Arizona State Sen. Russell Pearce says he is working with representatives from 18 other states to have an anti-immigrant law similar to Arizona’s passed “in a third of the country,” reports the Arizona Republic.
“It will be the law of the land,” Pearce said to a few hundred participating in a support rally for SB1070. “We’re not waiting on Washington, D.C.”
Pearce was one of several speakers attending a rally this afternoon at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza near the state Capitol.
One of the speakers attending, former Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., said the next time he came to the plaza, he hoped to see a statue of Pearce.
ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS BELOW
The author of Arizona’s controversial anti-immigrant law has a new target in mind for the fall legislative session: The children of illegal immigrants.
State Sen. Russell Pearce, the primary sponsor of Arizona’s new law allowing police to ask for proof of citizenship when they suspect a person is in the country illegally, says he plans to introduce a bill this fall that would deny citizenship to children born in the United States to illegal immigrants.
The bill would also require the children of illegal immigrants to pay tuition to attend public schools.
If such a bill were to pass, Arizona would find itself in the midst of a constitutional showdown. The 14th Amendment of the US Constitution states that anyone born in the US is a citizen, and that “no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”
In an interview with Time magazine, Pearce acknowledged that his proposed law would face a constitutional challenge even before it came into force, but argued the law is necessary because undocumented immigrants have “hijacked” the 14th Amendment and are using their US-born children to gain benefits from the US government. That phenomenon is sometimes referred to as “anchor babies.”
Some opponents of Pearce’s proposal argue that “anchor babies” do little to help their undocumented parents.
“I’ve had many clients who have faced deportation who go before an immigration judge who are ordered deported in spite of the fact they have US citizen children and it’s very difficult to win those cases,” immigration attorney Mo Goldman told KGUN TV in Tucson.
Goldman said a child’s citizenship has no bearing on judges’ decisions when weighing whether to deport the parents.
But Pearce may have public opinion on his side: Time reports that a recent poll showed 58 percent of Americans to oppose granting citizenship to illegal immigrants’ children — a number that rises to 76 percent among Republicans.
But many political observers in Arizona say the sort of popular support that existed for previous anti-immigrant measures may not exist for a law targeting children.
“Until now, Arizona voters have supported Pearce overwhelmingly and at nearly every turn,” writes Matt Bunk at Arizona Capitol Times. “But one of the top political consultants in Arizona said PearceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s new ideas could backfire and halt the momentum behind Arizona in its fight to force the federal government to take responsibility to stop illegal immigration.”
Democratic State Sen. Paula Aboud told KGUN she thinks Pearce won’t be able to muster enough support from his fellow Republicans at the state capitol.
“As Russell Pearce himself says, this is a country of laws; and he wants to obey the law and he wants people to obey the law but by saying he now wants to change the United States Constitution or to not adhere to its policies means he doesn’t want to obey the law, and that’s wrong and I don’t think his colleagues will support him,” Aboud said.
The other part of Pearce’s proposal — charging tuition to grade-school students of illegal immigrants, or expelling them if they don’t pay — has also found plenty of detractors.
In an article at the Arizona Capitol Times, Luige del Puerto argues that Pearce’s law would cause an increase in social problems because many children in Arizona would be denied an education.
“If Sen. Russell Pearce gets his way,” some illegal immigrants and children of illegal immigrants “would be derailed from the education system much earlier, and in a way that could have much more significant effects on individuals and society as a whole.”
Del Puerto estimates that some 10 percent of the students in Arizona’s public schools have undocumented parents.