Graham Seeks to end “Birthright Citizenship”

July 30th, 2010 at 7:55 am | 19 Comments |

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Politico reports on a new immigration proposal from Sen. Lindsey Graham:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) announced Wednesday night that he is considering introducing a constitutional amendment that would change existing law to no longer grant citizenship to the children of immigrants born in the United States.

Currently, the 14th Amendment grants citizenship to any child born in the United States.

But with 12 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S., Graham said it may be time to restrict the ability of immigrants to have children who become citizens just because they are born in the country.

“I may introduce a constitutional amendment that changes the rules if you have a child here,” Graham said during an interview with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren. “Birthright citizenship I think is a mistake …  We should change our Constitution and say if you come here illegally and you have a child, that child’s automatically not a citizen.”

Asked how intent Graham is on introducing the amendment, the South Carolina Republican responded: “I got to.”

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19 Comments so far ↓

  • Watusie

    “I got to” because otherwise I’m just not nutty enough to garner the support of the Republican Party in its current incarnation.

  • Carney

    We don’t need to change the Constitution to do this. I mean I’d vote for this amendment to make it crystal clear and unmistakable, but the Constitution does not mandate birthright citizenship, especially not for children of illegal aliens. Nobody who wrote and ratified the 14th Amendment meant that, and there is not only zero evidence they did, but any honest understanding of the history and context of the time would force an honest judge to concede that they had no such intention.

  • easton

    Absolute rubbish. So what do we do when foundlings are dropped off at hospitals, deny them citizenship if we don’t know who the parents are? Maybe we should let them die so as to make sure no filthy children of illegals survive, that will learn em good. Oh wait, except if they are white since white is the default race, but let the darkies die.

    And of course the founders intended birthright citizenship. James Madison wrote in 1789

    It is an established maxim that birth is a criterion of allegiance. Birth however derives its force sometimes from place and sometimes from parentage, but in general place is the most certain criterion; it is what applies in the United States

    Listen, there is a simple solution to this problem. Any illegal who has a child in the United States will be immediately deported and given 2 choices, take their child or leave the child for adoption, also revoke the woman’s right to return to the states. I imagine the vast majority of times they will take their child with them, if in 18 or so years the children come to the states, so be it.

    And Carney, George Will? Honestly? How about Wong Kim Ark versus US?

    There is no chance in hell that a Constitutional amendment will pass and it is foolish to imagine that any Supreme Court will overturn Wong Kim Ark. Lets find practical solutions.

  • Watusie

    Carney, you surprise me. Or maybe not. Is it your position that the place of conception determines citizenship? I guess that would be consistent with your other views.

  • dante

    Carney, what a joke. From the WashPo article:

    If those who wrote and ratified the 14th Amendment had imagined laws restricting immigration — and had anticipated huge waves of illegal immigration — is it reasonable to presume they would have wanted to provide the reward of citizenship to the children of the violators of those laws? Surely not.

    And I doubt that the original framers of the Constitution imagined fully-automatic weapons capable of spewing out thousands of rounds per minute when they passed the 2nd amendment either, but the GOP will back that till the day it dies.

    Why do you hate the Constitution?

  • busboy33

    Ya ever notice how every election cycle, the GOP proposes nonsensical Constitutional Amendments and rediculous laws that they know will never pass, or if they do pass that are guaranteed to be immediately shot down by the Courts? I wonder why they do that.

  • kosloff2032

    What annoys me so much about this issue is that almost no one understands why we had “birthright citizenship” in the first place.

    The reason why the 14th amendment is written that way is so that during the period of reconstruction (1865-1870s) the southern states could not write laws preventing former slaves from gaining citizenship. Many southern states attempted to do this, necessitating the amendment in the first place.

    The purpose of the 14th was never to guarentee citizenship for illegals. I realize that there are arguments in favor of birthright citizenship that are quite valid, however, we need to actually have that debate as a country and decide whether we should have it, rather than just interpreting laws designed for completly different purposes.

    Another problem with birthright citizenship is that it would fundamentally damage any sort of guest worker program (a necessary program) in the future. How can they be “guests” if they can simply have a child during their limited stay and have that child be a citizen?

  • Charles M. Kelly

    I was born in the United States 49 years ago, as my parents were born here many decades before me.

    If we abolish citizenship by birth, does that not mean the government will get to decide who is or is not a citizen based on the political interests of the political party in power?

    If I have to prove both my parents were Americans, do I also have to prove their parents were Americans? Will my employer have to trace my entire family back multiple generations?

    Yes, there is an illegal immigration problem. Yes, “anchor babies” reward illegal immigration. (If I came from an impoverished nation, run by thugs, and I thought I could better my child’s life by sneaking his pregnant mom across a border–I’d do it. So would you–and hang the risk of jail, deportation or death at the hands of smugglers or vigilantes.)

    That said, a knee-jerk abolition of birthright citizenship could pave the way for one political party to punish another by arbitrarily declaring millions of native-born Americans “foreigners.”

    Without hearing more details, I suspect this “cure” could be a thousand times more dangerous than the disease.

    Abolishing the birthright is an idea that will find favor with angry people. The trouble, and the danger, with the politics of anger is that anger is not famous for inspiring thought.


    I’ve heard some Arizona lawmakers do, in fact, favor a law that would deny a birth certificate to any child whose parents cannot prove they are both citizens. You mentioned the homeless. Children conceived by rape would also be denied citizenship because the victim could not prove her attacker was an American citizen. Ditto women who had consensual relations with men who abandoned them upon hearing the words “We’re having a baby.”

    Probable result: more abortions, legal or otherwise.

    Of course, that would set Pro-Life versus anti-immigrant (meaning, in many cases, anti-Latin rather than anti-illegal immigrant) factions of the American conservative movement at each other’s throats.

    As I said, anger doesn’t inspire thinking. America needs ideas that work, not ideas that please potential lynch mobs.

  • JonF

    Re: We don’t need to change the Constitution to do this.

    Yes, we do, and the plain text of the 14th Amedment coul dnot be clearer: all persons born in the US are US citizens unless their parents are not under the jurisdiction of US laws. The only poeple in the latter class these days are foreign diplomats. Illegal aliens most certainly are under US jurisdiction, otherwise we could hardly charge them with anything illegal!

    Conservatives have complained for years about liberals ignoring the plain text of the Constitution and interpretting anything into it they want. Well, then, conservatives ought not to follow suit on that.

    Re: Nobody who wrote and ratified the 14th Amendment meant that

    No matter what they meant (and we have no necromancy that can pull them from their graves so we can ask), they wrote what they wrote, and from the first day the amendment took efect, birthright citizenship was undestood to be the law of the land. My mother’s German ancestors became citizens in this manner in the late 1800s, as did many other people born in the US of foreign parents at the time. This is not about some court finding a wacky penunmbra in the Constitution: it’s about following what the document unambiguously states. If you disagree by all means try to amend the Constitution, but don’t pretend you can simply nullify the language on a whim.

    Re: The reason why the 14th amendment is written that way is so that during the period of reconstruction (1865-1870s) the southern states could not write laws preventing former slaves from gaining citizenship.

    Yes, that is true, but it is also irrelevant. The 14th Amendment says “All persons…”. It does not say “All former slaves…”

  • busboy33


    Yeah, what he said!

  • kosloff2032


    In retrospect your points are well taken. I simply was displaying my annoyance at people who do not understand the original intent of the amendment, as a poster put before illegal immigration was not an issue and everyone could come.

    @Charles M. Kelly

    Good points and I admit I do not know much about this issue but how do modern industrialized nations like Canada and Australia manage to not have birthright citizenship and it all seems to work for them? I am not stating an opinion I am just wondering how they manage because it seems they would have to deal with the same issues you brought up?

  • RedlegJS

    This is insane! Doesnt this give us strength? Maybe an incentive for productive citizens driven from other societies their home countries a reason to come here! Give me a break about al-queda coming here to “plant” future suicide bombers. A lot of children with american parents grow up to be criminals,murders,rapist and molesters. focus on jobs congress!

  • Watusie

    kosloff2032, Canada and Australia both have birthright citizenship – although in the latter case the child can lose it by not residing in Australia while growing up.

  • kosloff2032

    My bad I guess this is why I shouldidn’t troll around sketchy blogs without cited sources. Anyways European nations do not have birthright citizenship and i’ll ask my question again, how do first world countries without birthright citizenship deal with the problems Charles M. Kelly brought up?

  • Sinan

    Uh…every state admitted to the union was filled with illegals prior to the admission of them into the union. Every person born in the 13 states was an illegal birth. Every person born outside those states in the open lands was also an illegal birth. This issue is absurd and is again pandering to the most ignorant of the GOP. While we have an immense immigration issue, we should not and must not make stateless children pay for the status of their parents. This is cold, heartless and cruel. I notice he did not ask that the citizenship of millions of babies born to European immigrants be revoked…

  • tequilamockingbird

    Excellent comment, Charles. Nativism and xenophobia always show their ugly heads when times are tough economically. We’re all descended from immigrants, except for those of us whose ancestors were massacred or herded onto reservations and cheated of their land and birthright by fraudulent treaties and lying politicians. I admire the strength and courage of the Mexicans who swim rivers, cross deserts, and deal with criminal coyotes so they can better themselves and their families, performing honest labor for a substandard wage working for exploitive employers.

  • tequilamockingbird

    (Tagged onto my last comment — sorry.)

    This is smoke and mirrors, a diversion; it’ll never happen. Graham, like his Best Friend Forever, McCain, is tacking hard to the right to placate the Tea Party crowd. Sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  • florishes

    What if all the Fox News viewers decide the Thirteenth Amendment is reverse discrimination? That pretty much sums up Rand Paul and friends. The Constitution hawks will only be satisfied with the original document sans amendment.

  • bamboozer

    That most rare of opportunities has arrived: I agree with the Conservatives! The 14th amendment was designed to legitimize the citizenship of newly freed slaves, not children born here by any and all means. Get rid of it, it serves no legitimate pupose.