U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal of Georgia wants to change a federal policy that automatically grants citizenship to any baby born on U.S. soil.
The Associated Press reports that Deal, a Republican candidate for governor, and his supporters feel the current policy encourages illegal immigration and makes immigration enforcement more difficult.
"This is a sensible, overdue measure that closes a clause that was never meant to be a loophole," said Bob Dane, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which seeks tighter immigration restrictions.
The term “anchor babies” is often used by opponents of illegal immigration who say immigrant families have children in the United States to establish a legal foothold. The children could also later sponsor citizenship for family members.
Automatic citizenship is part of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. It says:
“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."
It’s no surprise that Deal’s proposition has raised concerns among Latino advocates and human-rights groups who say it contradicts the American spirit.
Lisa Navarrete, vice president of the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy group, told the AP that the proposed law wouldn't stem illegal immigration and would make the problem worse because not only would illegal immigrants be undocumented, their American-born children would be, too.
"You end up with potentially millions of children who are stateless, who were born here and have no ties to any other country, yet they're not considered citizens or part of the United States," she said.
It's very difficult to amend the constitution. In once scenario, an amendment must be proposed by a two-thirds vote in each house of Congress. If approved, it must be ratified by majority votes in the legislatures or conventions of three-fourths of the states before it can become part of the Constitution.
A recent study the Pew Hispanic Center found that the number of American children who have at least one undocumented parent has increased considerably from 2.7 million in 2003 to 4 million in 2008. More than 70 percent of all children of illegal immigrants are American citizens.
Those children would not lose their citizenship under Deal’s proposal but the numbers demonstrate the rapid demographic shift taking place within the country’s undocumented population.
Photo: Children participate in a Charlotte rally for immigration reform. Over 150 latino students wrote letters asking President Obama to stop deportations that break up immigrant families. DAVID T. FOSTER III - email@example.com