State Legislators Attempt to Turn Back Clock to Antebellum South

antebellum southAt a press conference Wednesday morning at the National Press Club, a coalition of state legislators and immigration restrictionists known as the State Legislators for Legal Immigration (SLLI) presented their proposal to turn back the clocks to the pre-Civil War era to create a new definition of “state citizenship,” create a new second-class citizenship, and fundamentally alter the principles of the U.S. Constitution. With connections to restrictionist group FAIR and the notorious John Tanton Network, SLLI members Rep. John Kavanaugh of Arizona, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe of Pennsylvania, Kansas Secretary of State-elect Kris Kobach and others were on hand to monger more fear on “the illegal alien invasion” and, in the words of South Carolina’s state Senator Danny Verdin, cure the “malady” and “poison” of undocumented immigration.

In a radio interview on Tuesday, Rep. Kavanaugh of Arizona claimed that this proposal is “nothing dramatic or over the top,” but rather a “reasoned, rational approach” intended to trigger a legal review of the 14th Amendment. Rep. Metcalfe claims that this effort is needed to “correct the monumental misapplication of the 14th amendment.” Like Swift’s modest proposal, this proposal is far from reasoned and rational. It is an attempt to rewrite the Constitution and to assert state laws to strip some native-born U.S. citizens of their rights, punish innocent newborns for the actions of their parents, and otherwise trample upon the fundamental principles the U.S. is based on.

The 14th amendment clearly states that all persons born in the U.S., and subject to jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of U.S. and the states in which they reside. The model legislation attempts to revive a definition of “state citizenship” and narrow the categories of people who would be citizens of the state at birth by reinterpreting the “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” clause to include only those who “owe no allegiance to any foreign sovereignty.” Under their definition, only children born to at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen, national, or legal permanent resident would be considered citizens.

Walter Dellinger, former Assistant Attorney General and a member of a coalition called Americans for Constitutional Citizenship, stated:

The Supreme Court in 1898 made it absolutely clear that birth in U.S. guarantees a right to citizenship and the court has never looked back on it. We have understood the 14th amendment to mean that all persons born in U.S., and subject to jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of U.S. and the states in which they reside so that we have no doubt of citizenships and so that no judges, legislators or bureaucrats can decide who is and who is not a citizen of the U.S. This rule has worked for us since the Civil War for a good reason—so that we never have any doubt that people born here are citizens.

As if the legal questions raised by the first part of the proposal weren’t enough, the bill would also create a “state compact” requiring states to issue two different types of birth certificates: one for those considered “natural-born U.S. citizens” and another singling out those whom the state does not consider a citizen. This creates a situation in which state and hospital officials responsible for issuing birth certificates would be empowered to make life-altering decisions regarding the citizenship of a child and the immigration status of the parents.

michele waslinTheir audacity and shamelessness is noteworthy. Rep. Kavanagh and the other legislators have openly stated that their plan is to set up a showdown between state and federal power, to spark a legal challenge that will end up in the Supreme Court. They admit that the legislation itself is a means to an end; it would not have any immediate implications for the states that pass it. In this sense, they are simply using their own states and constituents as staging grounds for their ultimate battle. While the legislation may never be implemented, state taxpayers are going to have to foot the bill for costly litigation to defend the law and the crazy aspirations of its proponents. Arizonans in particular should understand the costs of a tarnished reputation.

It is clear that this is not a legitimate attempt to pose a Constitutional question. The ugliness and viciousness of the language invoked throughout today’s press conference signal the true intentions of the legislators.

Michele Waslin
Immigration Impact


  1. Nate says

    Typical neo – con hate spew gibberish in the first post .

    We have no need to refuse citizenship of persons born here nor is there any real influx of Mexicans having ‘ anchor babies ‘ that’s all typical gop white fear lies & distortions .

    If you’re really worried about over crowding America : close the dang border like every other country does , that’s it – simple if you’re honest and not trying to punish poor non Whites for the crime of being born here .

    Educate them ? of _course_ just like any other American citizen they deserve the right to a decent education so they’ll be _productive_ citizens, not welfare cheats like the gop is always crying wolf about but doesn’t want to stop .

    If you think your home country is so great , fine ~ please leave America to those who want to make good use of it’s golden opportunities .

    Better learn to speak English and assimilate too else you are bound to fail , no one’s fault but yours .

  2. says

    The 14th Amendment,
    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

  3. MyLeftMind says

    The Fourteenth Amendment was designed to give citizenship to children of slaves newly freed by the Thirteenth Amendment. It wasn’t designed to provide an incentive for people to bypass immigration controls. When it was written, people had to walk or sail to get to another country. Now they can fly into the U.S. deliberately to have a baby (“maternity tourism”). Today, if a woman sneaks across the border (or even comes here on a legal visit) and has a baby, the US citizens can be saddled with the cost of the childbirth, and that “instant citizen” is entitled to all of our social programs that we pay for with taxes, such as welfare, federal Section 8 housing, Medicaid, Medicare, ObamaCare, social security disability and more. If the parents are deported or put their kid with another family, public money for foster care can be paid to relatives even if the mom and dad are still living with their kid. Mexican illegal immigrants can (and do) demand that their kids be educated in Spanish instead of English, which costs the public even more, and the kids can even get free college thanks to American taxpayers. Illegal aliens can get all this for their kids, even if they’ve never paid a dime into the system.

    Clearly, our birthright citizenship policy has to be changed so that it no longer creates such an incentive for breaking immigration law. This is not trampling upon the fundamental principles the U.S. is based on, it is recognizing that when the 14th Amendment was written, there were no planes available to pop into the US to have a baby. There were also no nuclear bombs and terrorists vying to destroy our country. The world is a different place today. The world’s population is out of control and causing long term environmental damage. Unbridled immigration could easily be the death of our democracy, and certainly will be used by the wealthy to further degrade our hard won protections for families and workers. We have protections not found in third world nations whose citizens work 16 hour days, don’t have safety standards or minimum pay, and send their kids to jobs instead of school. Is that what we want? If so, let’s open up the borders, because the worlds billions would love to come pouring into our country to make it the way they think it should be, including outvoting progressives who believe in living wages and installing Sharia law and other totalitarian policies we disagree with. But if you think our way of life is good, then we need to model it for other countries, supporting the growth of democracy and sustainable business here and elsewhere. To do so, we need to maintain limits on immigration, eliminate birthright citizenship for lawbreakers, and do all we can to help the downtrodden in other countries with ever increasing populations of poor people.

    Finally, if we’re going to have immigration policy at all, and pay so much money to restrict immigration, then we need to stop allowing illegal aliens to do “end runs” around our laws. The question is, why are liberals so he!!bent on helping only those who cheat to become American citizens? Why doesn’t the left care about all those kids whose parents don’t break into this country? Other countries have recently changed their policies to limit birthright citizenship to current citizens. Our country will eventually do it as well, but it sounds like naïve progressives are going to do their best to let millions more illegal aliens steal from us first.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *