In 2011 Senator Vitter of Louisiana introduced a bill to ban the automatic granting of citizenship to so-called “anchor babies” of illegal immigrants:
A group of conservative Republicans in the U.S. Senate have drafted a bill to stop “anchor babies” from automatically being granted birthright citizenship, ABC News reported Wednesday.
David Vitter of Louisiana, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas said that their bill requires the federal government to limit automatic citizenship to children born to at least one parent who is a citizen, legal resident, or member of the military.
Or this subsequent one from 2013?
I can’t find much about their final dénouement. My guess is that most either die in committee, or are voted down in the House, because not enough Republicans will support them, much less Democrats. And even if such bills were to somehow pass the House, Harry Reid would block them in the Senate.
In addition, I’m not sure whether, if they somehow managed to be passed, the Supreme Court would uphold them. This would depend on how the Court interprets the Fourteenth Amendment. According to this, the Court so far has only ruled (at least, up to the year 2009, when the article was written) that children who are born here of legal immigrants must be citizens, a proposition with which I have absolutely no quarrel. If you’d like to study the history of the Fourteenth Amendment and how it might apply if Congress were to pass a bill like that proposed by Vitter in 2011, see this, particularly the description of the Congressional debates at the time the Fourteenth Amendment was passed:
Howard said that the clause “is simply declaratory of what I regard as the law of the land already, that every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States.” He added that citizenship “will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons”—a comment which would later raise questions as to whether Congress had originally intended that U.S.-born children of foreign parents were to be included as citizens.
There’s much more that’s relevant to the question of whether the Court would uphold a law such as Vitter’s, and on what grounds, here and here. The ultimate remedy for the Court’s ruling against such a bill’s constitutionality would be to pass a constitutional amendment, which would require a lot more support than a mere bill.
But wouldn’t it be worthwhile it to pass such a bill and see what the Court would say about it? I’m almost positive that most Americans would favor such a law, especially now with the border crisis exploding. The most recent poll I could find on the subject was taken in 2011, and that year 61% of respondents disliked the anchor baby rule as it stands. What’s more, only 28% agreed with the rule, and “Eighty-four percent (84%) of voters believe that before anyone receives local, state or federal government services, they should be required to prove they are legally allowed to be in the United States. Only nine percent (9%) oppose such a requirement.” And although it was Republicans and Independents who most wanted to change the law favoring anchor babies, even Democrats were evenly split on the issue. That’s fairly overwhelming support.
So laws such as those sponsored by Vitter would seem to have unusually wide appeal. Why then are they not passed? Well, you know why. From the same poll:
There are sharper differences of opinion as far as the Political Class is concerned. Seventy percent (70%) of those in the Political Class favor automatic citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants, but 70% of Mainstream voters are opposed.
Mainstream voters also believe much more emphatically that those seeking government services need to prove they are in this country legally.
The Rasmussen report on the poll is behind a paywall so I don’t know how they define “Political Class” (the above quotes and facts are from a blog purporting to quote the Rasmussen report). But it seems clear that the interests of Congress involving business, lobbyists, and the Hispanic bloc have conspired to cause them to act against the interests of the American people as a whole on this issue.
Not only is the Vitter bill sensible, but it is also the position of many countries in the world:
To stop birth tourism, Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United Kingdom have a modified jus soli, granting citizenship by birth only when at least one parent is a citizen of the country or a legal permanent resident who has lived in the country for several years.
Works for me. Only Canada of all the developed countries has a rule that resembles ours.
And I don’t care what race, ethnicity, or country we’re talking about. If the parent is a whiter-than-white illegal immigrant from Scandinavia I don’t want anchor babies of illegal immigrants to be given automatic citizenship. Same for wealthy Chinese mothers who come here to give birth and then return home, and whose kids will some day come to the US and be computer whizzes. I don’t care.
Our current policy not only encourages people without respect for the rule of law to come here to game the system and to reap benefits we cannot afford (illegal immigrant women who are pregnant or nursing can qualify for WIC, and their children can be on Medicaid), but it can only decrease respect for the rule of law in general. It’s time to take another look at changing the birthright citizenship rules and passing something like the Vitter bill. Too bad that even the Republicans seem to have no stomach for it.