America's illegal-immigration problem is out of control. To change this, we must better protect our borders, particularly the border with Mexico, and ensure that only citizens and those in our country legally can be hired for jobs.
But that's not enough. Currently, babies who are born in this country to two illegal immigrant parents automatically become U.S. citizens. This happens between 300,000 and 400,000 times each year, and it needs to change. It's just flat wrong, and it serves as a magnet to attract illegal immigrants to the U.S.
I recently introduced legislation that would grant automatic citizenship only to those born in the United States to at least one parent who is a legal citizen (including naturalized citizens), legal immigrant, or active member of the armed forces. Closing this loophole would not prevent anyone from becoming a citizen. What it would do is ensure that he or she has to go through the same process as those born to foreign parents outside the U.S. who want to become American citizens.
The 14th Amendment to the Constitution was not intended to grant citizenship to the children of people living in our country illegally. Adopted in 1868, this Amendment was specifically designed to address the horrible injustice of slavery by guaranteeing that children born to former slaves would automatically be American citizens.
My goal is to make sure that the 14th Amendment is not stretched to allow a person born in the United States to illegal immigrants to automatically have citizenship. I want to bring the 14th Amendment back to what its authors intendednothing more and nothing less.
Senator David Vitter
Republican of Louisiana
Attempts to eliminate birthright citizenship are an assault on the Constitution and on innocent children born in the U.S. These attempts are based on myths and, if successful, would undermine basic principles of equal rights and adversely affect all Americans.
The concept of "anchor babies"which seems to motivate those who seek to repeal birthright citizenshipis a myth. Immigrants do not come to the U.S. just to give birth. Nor can U.S.-born children protect their parents from deportation if they're illegal; in fact, they can't even try to obtain legal status for their parents until they're 21 years old.
Eliminating birthright citizenship would actually increase the number of people defined as illegal, since babies born to anyone here illegally would be illegal from the moment of their birth. It would also create a perpetual underclass of people living in the shadows.
All Americans, not just immigrants, would be affected, since all parents would have to prove the citizenship of their children. For some parents, this would be relatively simple; for others, it would be difficult and expensive to collect all the necessary paperwork. Inevitably, a large new bureaucracy would develop solely for determining the citizenship of children born in the United States.
The 14th Amendment was adopted in the aftermath of the Civil War expressly to ensure that all persons born in the U.S. would be citizens, and that no state or individual could redefine citizenship to create an underclass. Repealing the 14th Amendment would do exactly what its authors sought to prevent almost 150 years ago. In the U.S., we do not hold innocent babies accountable for the actions of their parents.
Immigration Policy Center
(The New York Times Upfront, Vol. 143, April 4, 2011)