14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is Latest Immigration Battleground

U.S. Constitution - Photo: Chuck Coker/flickr

U.S. Constitution. (Photo: Chuck Coker/flickr)

Republicans in Congress are so desperate to capitalize on the anti-immigration vote this fall that they are proposing to change the U.S. Constitution.

The effort to overturn the 14th Amendment, which grants citizenship to anyone born in the U.S., is being championed in the Senate by GOP minority leader Mitch McConnell, (R-Ky.) the Republican whip, John Kyl (R-Ariz) and in a complete 180, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) (who once, in a galaxy far far away, supported bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform).

Mr. Graham told Fox News that “birthright citizenship was a mistake.”

“People come here to have babies,” said Graham. ‘They come here to drop a child. It’s called drop and leave. To have a child in America, they cross the border, they go to the emergency room, have a child, and that child is automatically an American citizen. That shouldn’t be the case. That attracts people here for all the wrong reasons.'”

The Hill reports that the Republican legislation is popular in the House as well, and has 93 co-sponsors. It is aimed at denying citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants.

Immigration-rights advocates were quick to respond to the proposal, and the Immigration Policy Center launched a web portal devoted to defending the 14th amendment.

Yet the likelihood of overturning an amendment that was adopted in 1868 and has been fundamental to American identity over the the last century and a half is unlikely. The amendment reversed the Supreme Court’s 1857 decision in the Dred Scott case that denied citizenship to African-Americans. Getting rid of the amendment would require the support of two thirds of both houses and would need to be ratified by three-quarters of the 50 states.

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