Fighting Birthright Citizenship: Will GOP Congressional Leadership Hide Behind The States (Again)?

In the last few weeks, legislation
against birthright citizenship was introduced in both
the US House, Senate, and in dozens of state
legislatures. Though it is still a little early to tell,
there is reason to be concerned that much of the

Establishment Republicans` talk about the issue was,
well, talk.
This might leave the

states left to pull the slack
once again.

On January 25, Senators David
Vitter (R-LA) and freshman

Rand Paul
(R-KY) introduced a joint resolution
stating proposing an amendment to the

US Constitution
which would state:

"`A person born in the United States
shall not be a citizen of the
United States

` (1) one parent of the person is a citizen of the United States;

` (2) One parent of the person is an alien lawfully admitted for
permanent residence in the
United States

who resides in the
United States

`(3) one parent of the person is an
alien performing active service i
n the Armed Forces
of the United States; or

` (4) The person is naturalized in accordance with the laws of the
United States.`."
Res 2

Thus far there is
not a single
to the bill. This is particularly
interesting given that John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey
Graham (R-SC), Jeff Sessions (R-AL) Minority Leader
Mitch McConnell (R-KY), John Kyl (R-AZ), and

John Cornyn
(R-TX) among others all

expressed interest in ending birthright citizenship last

While some such as McConnell and
McCain merely stated
"we should hold hearings"
on the issue, Graham

explicitly said
"We should change our
Constitution and say if you come here illegally and you
have a child, that child`s automatically not a citizen."
eyes `birthright citizenship`,
by Andy Barr,, July 29, 2010]

Why isn`t he a
co-sponsor? Perhaps
that that his boss John McCain sees no

need to pose tough
on immigration, he has dropped
the issue.

But even if a
few more Republicans decided to co-sponsor the
Amendment, it is

nearly impossible to pass.
A constitutional
amendment would need 67 Senators, 290 Congressman, and
then be independently ratified by 38 state legislatures.

Upon introducing
the Amendment, Vitter`s office sent out a

press release
stating that "
Vitter and Paul do not believe that the 14th Amendment confers
birthright citizenship to the children of illegal
aliens, either by its language or intent."

If that`s true, why go through such
a spectacularly difficult process? As has

time and time again
, neither Congress nor the
Supreme Court

has ever deemed that
the 14th grants

birthright citizenship
for the children of

illegal aliens

When Lindsey Graham and company
began to throw around the idea of an amendment, I

that they simply wanted to throw a
symbolic bone to the grassroots that they knew would
never pass—a la the

Federal Marriage


Vitter has a proven track record fighting illegal
and in fact introduced the same
Amendment with no co-sponsors or fanfare long before the
Republican Establishment jumped aboard.

While Paul and Vitter are making a
valuable statement, the effort in the House of
Representatives led by

Steve King
with his

Birthright Citizenship Act of 2011
seems to me to be
a potentially effective strategy too.

Rep. King`s bill makes the same
people eligible for citizenship as with the Amendment,
but it does so by amending the

Immigration and Nationality Act
to acknowledge
"the right of
birthright citizenship established by section 1 of the
14th amendment to the Constitution, a person born in the
United States shall be considered `subject to the
jurisdiction` of the United States for purposes of
subsection (a)(1) if the person is born in the United
to legal permanent residents, US Citizens,
or  members of the
military. [H.R.

Thus far, King`s Amendment has

only 45 co-sponsors
But many of the freshman Republicans have not
even hired their full staffs and it is a fair guess that
within a couple of months the number of co-sponsors will
be around 100.

NumbersUSA counts
over two dozen freshmen who
pledged they would oppose anchor babies, but have not
co-sponsored the legislation.

So we should give the freshman a
few weeks. But the more senior members do not have such
an excuse. And no one in the leadership is on board,
including Speaker

John Boehner
(R-OH), Majority Leader

Eric Cantor
(R-VA), and majority whip Kevin McCarthy
(R-CA.) More notably, Judiciary Chairman

Lamar Smith
(R-TX), and Immigration Subcommittee

Elton Gallegly
(R-CA) are not signed on. As I
mentioned in a

recent piece
, King was passed over by Gallegly for
immigration chair, and would have pushed birthright
citizenship to the forefront.

It is also worth noting that none
of the Conservative Movement darlings, such as
Michele Bachmann
(R-MN, who

co-sponsored it in the past

Mike Pence
(R-IN), and

Paul Ryan
(R-WI), have signed on either.

With the Giffords shooting delaying
everything by a week, and then the Obamacare repeal
taking another week, it`s still possible that a few more
prominent Republicans will join King.

But, once again, Congress` behavior
seems like to leave it up to the states to lead the
battle against illegal immigration. In the past few
years, a few legislators have introduced a bill on
birthright citizenship, but it was not taken seriously

Russell Pearce
said he would move on the issue.
Pearce and other state legislators worked with

Kris Kobach
to create model legislation that is now
being introduced across the country.

The legislation defines state
citizenship as
"the person is born in the United States
and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, and"
that "the person
is a resident of the state."
It then properly
defines the "jurisdiction thereof" as

"meaning that it bears in Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the
United States Constitution, namely that the person is a
child of at least one parent who owes no allegiance to
any foreign sovereignty, or a child without citizenship
or nationality in any foreign country. For the purposes
of this statute, a person who owes no allegiance to any
foreign sovereignty is a United States citizen or
national, or an immigrant accorded the privilege of
residing permanently in the United States, or a person
without citizenship or nationality in any foreign

Despite the hysteria that is
greeting these proposals, these bills do not actually
redefine citizenship rules for their state. In fact,
changing the rules for state citizenship is largely
symbolic because

"shall not confer
upon the holder thereof any right, privilege, immunity,
or benefit under law."

So what`s the point of these laws?
They are accompanied by a compact to issue separate
birth certificates for those born to the children of US
Citizens and of illegal aliens, which will not
"take effect until Congress has given its consent, pursuant to

Article I, Section 10, Clause 3
of the
United States

." [Arizona
SB 1308

What the compact and the bills will
do is force both Congress and Courts to act on the

Versions of the bill have been
introduced in Georgia, Pennsylvania,
South Carolina, South
, Indiana, Oklahoma, and

However, it is most likely to pass
in Arizona. Conservatives won large majorities
in the State House and Senate running on SB 1070 and
Governor Jan Brewer saved her political career by doing
the same. 

However, especially after the

Giffords shootings
were used to slander the state as
being filled with right wing extremists, there are some
signs of fatigue.

Arizona State Senator John McComish
(R-Phoenix) who voted for SB 1070 said he has not
committed to voting on birthright citizenship because,
"I`m concerned
with the energy and resources it will take if we go
forward on this. It is time for another state to step
citizenship fight begins in Arizona | Bills would strip
citizenship from illegal migrants` babies
Alia Beard Rau, The Arizona Republic, January 28, 2011]

His motives notwithstanding, there
are many Arizonans who support SB 1070 and would support
ending birthright citizenship who simply want to avoid
being the center of national controversy.

This is why it is so important that

other states besides Arizona
keep pushing the issue.
Even if they don`t pass it, simply keeping it in the
headlines takes some of the pressure off Arizona.

As I have said before, whatever
hiccups immigration patriots encounter, the fact that
this issue is

being discussed
at all is a huge improvement over

just a year ago

The more this issue is in the
headlines, the more Americans learn about the

of anchor babies, and the more pressure
there is for the politicians to finally do something
about it.

"Washington Watcher" [email
] is an anonymous source Inside The