WASHINGTON—Republican lawmakers from five states promised Wednesday to launch an effort to change the US constitutional amendment that grants citizenship to those born in the United States.

The group – from Arizona, South Carolina, Georgia, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania – said it was seeking to discourage undocumented migrants from coming to the country to give birth so that their children will be US nationals.

"According to the 14th Amendment, the primary requirements for US citizenship are dependent on total allegiance to America, not mere physical geography," Pennsylvanian lawmaker Daryl Metcalfe told reporters.

The 14th Amendment grants US citizenship to those who are born or naturalized in the United States.

Metcalfe and his colleagues announced their initiative as the US Congress opened its 112th session with Republicans in control of the House of Representatives and a slimmed-down Democratic majority in the Senate.

Republicans who support the planned review say children born to the more than 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States also should be illegal since their parents are not legal residents.

The right to nationality by virtue of "geography of birth," known in legal terms as jus soli, "has created a perverse incentive for foreign nationals to break US law," according to Representative Randy Terrill of Oklahoma.

Yet "there are countries, like Germany, that chose not to grant citizenship to children who are born on their soil if their parents are immigrants and what we've seen in those countries is a divisive movement," countered Kyrsten Sinema, a Democratic senator from Arizona.