Attack On Birthright Citizenship In US Condemned

14 Aug 2010


On Friday, a top aide to US President Barack Obama condemned calls to amend the US Constitution to deny babies born in the United States automatic US citizenship, calling any such effort “just wrong”. The 14th Amendment, adopted in 1868 in the aftermath of the Civil War, granted citizenship to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States”. Defenders of the amendment say altering it would weaken a fundamental American value while doing little to deter illegal immigration.

According to an analysis of US, Census Bureau data by the Pew Hispanic Center, eight percent of all babies born in the U.S in 2008 belonged to illegal immigrant parents.

US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano blasted a Republican push to revise the 14th amendment to the US Constitution. “The 14th Amendment enshrines, and has for more than 150 years, equal protection and due process, two things that we don't think need to be tampered with," Napolitano told reporters at the White House.

"Any talk of amending the constitution is just wrong," she said.

Supporters of such an effort say children born to undocumented immigrants in the United States should not automatically get US citizenship, and that they want to discourage so-called "birth tourism" by wealthy visitors who come to the United States to give birth and then leave.

Graham told CNN one week later that "people in China and throughout the world who are rich get a tourist visa to come to an American resort, have the child at that resort, there's a hospital on the resort grounds, have the baby as an American citizen and turn around and go back to China."

Graham, who estimated the number at 7,000, stressed: "I don't think that's the way you want to give out citizenship. Citizenship should be earned, it should be respected, and that's what I'm trying to do."

"I think we should change our constitution and say, 'if you come here illegally and have a child, that child is automatically not a citizen,'" said Graham.

But the arduous process of changing the US Constitution, which notably requires ratification by three-fourths of the states, would seem to make any such push unlikely.


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