How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

The model bill to challenge the 14th Amendment

Photo by Chuck Coker/Flickr (Creative Commons)

U.S. Constitution art, September 2008

As had been planned, a group of conservative state legislators convened in Washington, D.C. this morning to unveil what they termed "14th Amendment Misapplication State Legislation."

A press release from the office of Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a leader in the anti-birthright citizenship movement, listed a series of Republican state legislators from Pennsylvania, Arizona, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Georgia as attending the unveiling press conference, all part of a national coalition of immigration restriction-minded legislators.

The idea is for legislators in individual states to introduce bills based on the model legislation, written as a blanket bill to be applied in any state, in order to force a Supreme Court review of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Dating to 1868 and granting citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” at the time including freed former slaves, the amendment guarantees automatic U.S. citizenship to those born in the United States. The goal of those pushing for a 14th Amendment review is to deny citizenship to children born here to undocumented immigrants.

Courtesy of Metcalfe's office, here is the model legislation (with "Arizona" in brackets), followed by a "state compact" urging supporting legislators to make a distinction between the birth certificates of "persons born in the signatory state who are born subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and persons who are not born subject to the jurisdiction of the United States."

BILL

(a) A person is a citizen of the state of [Arizona] if:

(1) the person is born in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, and

(2) the person is a resident of the state of [Arizona], as defined by [state code § xyz],

(b) For the purposes of this statute, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States has the 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 country.

(c) In addition to the criteria of citizenship described under sections (a) and (b), a person is a citizen of the state of [Arizona] if:

(1) the person is naturalized in the United States, and

(2) the person is a resident of the state of [Arizona], as defined by [state code § xyz],

(d) Citizenship of the state of [Arizona] shall not confer upon the holder thereof any right, privilege, immunity, or benefit under law.

STATE COMPACT

(a) The signatories to this compact shall make a distinction in the birth certificates, certifications of live birth, or other birth records issued in the signatory states, between persons born in the signatory state who are born subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and persons who are not born subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Persons born subject to the jurisdiction of the United States shall be designated as natural-born United States Citizens.

(b) Subject to the jurisdiction of the United States has the 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 compact, 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 country.

(c) This compact shall not take effect until Congress has given its consent, pursuant to Article I, Section 10, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution.


The press release quoted Arizona Sen. Russell Pearce, who stayed in Arizona attending to state business but remains one of the biggest proponents of eradicating birthright citizenship:
“The law is clear, the history is clear, the 14th Amendment is clear; natural-born citizens, are those born in the country, of parents who are citizens, for, if he is born there of a foreigner, it will be only the place of his birth, and not his country,” said Pearce.
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