A coalition of state lawmakers is collaborating on legislation to “correct” the 14th Amendment and deny citizenship to children of illegal immigrants born in the United States.
The coalition, known as State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI), includes lawmakers from 40 state legislatures, according to its founder, Pennsylvania State Rep. Daryl D. Metcalfe (R-Butler).
Ever since its ratification in 1868, the 14th Amendment of the Constitution has been interpreted as giving birthright citizenship to everyone born in the United States, with the exception of children of foreign diplomats.
SSLI hopes to “correct the monumental misapplication of the 14th Amendment” with legislation it unveiled Wednesday morning.
“According to the 14th Amendment, the primary requirements for US citizenship are dependent on total allegiance to America, not mere physical geography,” Rep. Metcalfe said. “The purpose of this model legislation is to restore the original intent of the 14th Amendment, which is currently being misapplied and is encouraging illegal aliens to cross and cost American taxpayers $113 billion annually, or nearly $1,117 yearly per individual taxpayer.”
Rather than amend the Constitution itself, the coalition plans to create two kinds of birth certificates in their states, one for the children of citizens and another for the children of illegal immigrants, the New York Times reports.
According to Metcalfe and others who wish to end birthright citizenship, pregnant foreign women purposefully come to the US to give birth so that their child will become a legal US citizen. These so-called “anchor babies” then make it easier for the parents and other family members to remain in the US.
The coalition claims “anchor babies” are being used by illegal immigrants to access taxpayer-funded benefits and steal American jobs.
“I’ve long considered birthright citizenship to be the holy grail of the illegal immigration debate,” Oklahoma State Rep. Randy Terrill, a member of the SSLI, said. “It has created a perverse incentive for foreign nationals to break US law and proven to be a policy disaster for our Republic.”
Gabriel J. Chin, a law professor at the University of Arizona, told the Times that the proposed legislation was “unwise, un-American and unconstitutional,” but the coalition is confident the law will not be struck down in court.
Key Congressional Republicans have also stated their support for ending citizenship rights granted to children of illegal immigrants born in the US.
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) is expected to push a bill that would end birthright citizenship to children of illegal immigrants in the recently convened 112th Congress.
King, the incoming chairman of the House Subcommittee on Immigration, argues that the 14th Amendment was not meant to confer citizenship on the children of undocumented immigrants because at the time of its ratification there was no immigration law.
“Just like any other national policy, America’s immigration laws must protect the lives, liberty and property of American citizens, rather than foreign invaders,” Rep. Metcalfe said.
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This article first appeared in Salon.
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According to a report from the Daily Beast, his campaign is struggling to bring donors -- who once wholeheartedly supported him --back into the fold.
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