“Birthright Citizenship” Bill Gets First Hearing in AZ Senate
February 8, 2011
PHOENIX - Children of undocumented immigrants would no longer qualify for Arizona citizenship under a bill that had its first hearing Monday in the state Senate. The bill would redefine the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution so it would apply only to a child with at least one parent who is a legal resident.
Pima College student Adelina Lopez of Tucson says the measure punishes innocent children for the actions of their parents.
"They weren't born 'nowhere.' There's no such thing as a place called 'nowhere.' They were born here. So why should we tell them that they don't have a right to be a citizen of the United States, when they were born here?"
Supporters of Senate Bill 1309 say it's needed to remove the attraction of birthright citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Arizona ACLU director Alessandra Soler-Meetze says the Arizona bill is not the first time that politicians have tried to exclude certain groups from the protections of the 14th Amendment.
"They tried it in the 1880s with African-Americans, Chinese-Americans, Japanese-Americans. And I think what's important to point out is that all of those proposals were rejected, as I think this one should be and will be."
Supporters of the Arizona bill also say the 14th amendment has been misinterpreted and was meant to apply only to freed slaves. Former state senator Alfredo Gutierrez says courts have ruled otherwise.
"The first decision of the Supreme Court, some 30 years after, was to a Chinese-American in San Francisco, where the court clearly found that the Chinese-American had a right to citizenship based on this."
Similar efforts are underway in 13 other states. Bill supporters say they hope to force the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider the issue.