GOP Faction Wants to Change 'Birthright Citizenship' Policy
For nearly 140 years, any child born on U.S. soil, even to an illegal immigrant, has been given American citizenship. Now, some conservatives in Congress are determined to change that.
A group of 92 lawmakers in the House will attempt next week to force a vote on legislation that would revoke the principle of "birthright citizenship," part of a broader effort to discourage illegal immigration.
The push to change the citizenship policy is backed by some conservative activists and academics. But it could cause problems for the White House and the Republican Party, which have been courting Latino voters. GOP officials fear the effort to eliminate birthright citizenship will alienate a key constituency, even if the legislation ultimately is rejected by Congress or the courts.
The principle at issue rests on the first sentence of the 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868 to guarantee the rights of emancipated slaves: "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."
Some lawmakers advocating tougher immigration laws contend that the amendment has been misinterpreted for decades. Conservatives maintain that although illegal immigrants are subject to criminal prosecution and are expected to abide by U.S. laws and regulations, they are not "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States in the full sense intended by the amendment's authors — and their children therefore fall outside the scope of its protection.
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