An Arizona local news station (KPHO) is reporting that the state Senator behind Arizona’s new immigration law, Russell Pierce (R), does not intend on stopping at SB-1070. In e-mails obtained by CBS 5, Pearce said he intends to push for an “anchor baby” bill that would essentially overturn the 14th amendment by no longer granting citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants born on U.S. soil. “Anchor babies” is a derogatory and “politically charged” term used to refer to the U.S. citizen children of undocumented parents.
Pierce is confident his new proposal is constitutional. “It’s common sense,” Pearce said. “Again – you can’t break into someone’s country and then expect to be rewarded for that. You can’t do it.”
However, the Constitution doesn’t grant citizenship to those born in the U.S. as an “award,” but rather, as a right. In an article released by the Center for American Progress (CAP), its authors argue “Eleven years and a bloody Civil War later, when the framers of the 14th Amendment composed its text, they explicitly rejected the notion that America is a country club.” Under the 14th Amendment, “[a]ll 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.”
The U.S. Supreme Court explicitly confirmed in United States v. Wong Kim Ark that anyone born in the United States would be a citizen regardless of their parents’ nationality. “This is why the hard right’s assault on birthright citizenship — claiming that the Constitution does not in fact grant citizenship to the children of immigrants to the United States — does not survive contact with the text of the Constitution itself,” writes CAP.
Pierce isn’t the first lawmaker to go after the children of immigrants. Since taking office, Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) has tried and failed to pass seven pieces of legislation that would either repeal or reinterpret the 14th Amendment’s definition of citizenship. Most recently, Bilbray took his anti-14th Amendment crusade to the state-level, backing the Taxpayer Revolution’s “Anchor Baby” reform initiative which sought to limit the rights and benefits of the U.S. citizen children of undocumented immigrants by redefining the 14th Amendment’s jurisdiction. Bilbray has also praised and defended Arizona’s new immigration law, indicating that police officers will be able to identify undocumented immigrants by employing criteria such as the shoes they wear.
TKPHO obtained a troubling email from one of Pierce’s constituents who is encouraging him to pursue the “anchor baby” legislation. “If we are going to have an effect on the anchor baby racket, we need to target the mother,” wrote the constituent. “Call it sexist, but that’s the way nature made it. Men don’t drop anchor babies, illegal alien mothers do.” In response to the email, Pierce said he “didn’t find anything wrong with the language.” “It’s somebody’s opinion…What they’re trying to say is it’s wrong. And I agree with them. It’s wrong,” Pierce told KPHO.
Crossposted with permission from the Wonk Room.
Artwork by Tom Hall.