Arizona Meanies Don't Have Votes On Birthright Citizen Bills

The Arizona Senate Judiciary Committee will not pass out of committee SB 1308 and SB 1309, bills which would challenge 14th Amendment status for newborn American citizens, those born on US soil whose parents are citizens of other countries.

The 14th Amendment says:

Section 1. – All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Anti-immigration legislators in various states are pushing a “Compact” (in Arizona, SB 1308), which completely distorts Section 1 to fit the purpose:

As used in this compact, “subject to the jurisdiction of the United States” has the meaning that it bears in section 1 of the fourteenth amendment to the United States Constitution, namely that the person is a child of at least one parent who owes no allegiance to any foreign sovereignty, or a child without citizenship or nationality in any foreign country. For the purposes of this compact a person who owes no allegiance to any foreign sovereignty is a United States citizen or national, or an immigrant accorded the privilege of residing permanently in the united states, or a person without nationality in any foreign country.

Anyone sane knows right off this is unconstitutional, indeed un-American, and disgracefully dishonest.

State Legislators for Legal Immigration, a group started by Pennsylvania State Rep. Daryl D. Metcalfe (R-Butler), is pushing this “Compact,” and lists 40 “Participating States.” Apparently, all it takes for a state to be so defined is a single lawmaker in the state to join up. Metcalfe himself is the only legislator listed for Pennsylvania. In New York State, for another example, Brewster Senator Greg Ball is the sole participant, but it’s enough to make New York a “Participating State.” God forbid.

A South Dakota site reported on HB 1199, one of these “Compact” bills:

Rep. Manny Steele (R-12/Sioux Falls) got nowhere with his effort to do Orly Taitz’s bidding. Steele’s HB 1199 was an attempt to subvert the Fourteenth Amendment. House Judiciary wisely said no… but Steele still won enough votes to make me queasy.

Sickening, for sure. Orly Taitz says: “It was sent to the Judiciary committee and deferred to the 41st legislative day.” Something I am very glad to hear, since South Dakota has only 40 legislative days in a session.

This week, in Arizona, sane Republicans and Democrats together, for the moment, put the brakes on their whackadoodle colleagues:

PHOENIX — The Arizona lawmaker who proposed a challenge to automatic U.S. citizenship for children of illegal immigrants called off a scheduled vote on his measure Monday because he didn’t have enough votes to get it out of committee. …

The bill’s sponsors say the goal is to force a court to rule that a child born in the U.S. is a citizen only if either parent is a U.S. citizen or a legal immigrant. Similar proposals have been introduced by lawmakers in Indiana, Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma and South Dakota. The South Dakota measure was rejected by a committee Monday.

An accompanying proposal is an interstate compact that defines who is a U.S. citizen and asks states to issue separate birth certificates for those who are U.S. citizens and those who are not. Such a compact would have to be approved by Congress, but they do not require the president’s signature.

Opponents of the bill — and constitutional scholars — predict such state efforts will be declared unconstitutional. Opponents say the proposal is mean-spirited toward immigrants and won’t make a dent in the state’s immigration woes.

MSNBC/AP

“These bills do nothing to move Arizona forward,” said Senate Minority Leader David Schapira. “The legislature should be focusing on issues that are important to Arizona citizens, such as getting our economy back on track and getting our fiscal house in order.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee took testimony for three hours before the committee chairman ultimately held the bills. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Sen. Steve Gallardo are the two Democratic members who serve on the Judiciary Committee.

“Today, Arizona and South Dakota have shown bipartisan opposition to this legislation,” Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said. “It is unconstitutional and irrelevant to the issues facing our nation. Today’s committee hearings in both Arizona and South Dakota demonstrated that these bills are extremist measures that do nothing to solve the real problems we face. We need to get back to work on creating Arizona jobs and repairing our schools.”

In June 2010, a Pew survey showed a majority of Americans opposed ending birthright citizenship by a 56-41 margin. Pew reports that this remains virtually unchanged from a similar survey in 2006.

Arizona Senate Democrats

Nevertheless, Republican Sen. Ron Gould is threatening to put the bills forward for a vote next Monday.

In January, Steve Chapman in the Chicago Tribune discussed the unholy mess of complications being created in the various state legislatures:

Earlier this month, a group of officials calling themselves State Legislators for Legal Immigration unveiled proposed legislation to deny state citizenship to children borne by illegal immigrants — and, for that matter, many foreigners residing here with the full blessing of our laws.

It says that to be a citizen of a given state, someone must be born here and have at least one parent who “owes no allegiance to any foreign sovereignty.” By a strict reading, it would exclude the children of many naturalized citizens who retain citizenship in their native lands (as allowed in Canada, Britain and Israel, among others). It would also bar those born to foreigners here on student visas — or even permanent resident aliens.

The group claims to support “legal immigration.” But this measure would punish the legal along with the illegal. A child could be born here, have two U.S. citizen parents and still be deprived of state citizenship.

The bill is most likely a grand exercise in irrelevance, since the Constitution leaves little room for legislating on this matter. The 14th Amendment says anyone born in this country (except to foreign diplomats) is a citizen of the United States and the state where they live. The feds can’t prevent it, and neither can the states.

To deny birthright citizenship to the offspring of illegal immigrants, the opponents would have to do one of two things: persuade the Supreme Court to discard its longstanding interpretation or amend the Constitution. Neither is likely.

Former President George W. Bush is also concerned with the xenophobic direction in which the country is moving on immigration:

He referred to the 1920s, when Congress passed an immigration law that set a cap of the number of immigrants the U.S. would accept each year. Bush said the legislation was intended to limit the number of “Jews and Italians” in America.

“My point is, we’ve been through this kind of period of isolationism, protectionism, nativism,” he said. “I’m a little concerned that we may be going through the same period. I hope that these “isms” pass,” he said, adding that it would allow the U.S. a more orderly look at immigration policy. … “We ought to welcome people from different cultures to America.”

I don’t want to be disrespectful, but when President Bush makes good sense to me, you know something is going terribly wrong in this country.

Cross-Posted From Oh, For Goodness Sake