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First Arizona anti-birthright citizenship bills falter in state Senate

A protestor outside the Arizona state Capitol in Phoenix yesterday, February 7, 2011
A protestor outside the Arizona state Capitol in Phoenix yesterday, February 7, 2011
Photo by Robert Haasch, courtesy of Border Action Network

State Senate legislation in Arizona that sought to deny automatic U.S. citizenship to children born to undocumented immigrants failed to register enough support in a committee hearing late yesterday, leading its sponsor to pull the two bills, at least for now. From the Arizona Republic:

Based on questioning from committee members, the bills didn't appear to have enough support to move forward.

Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, could bring the bills back to the committee later, or they could be referred to a committee that may be more receptive.

"It's going to come back," said Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, who opposes the package.

The Arizona Daily Star reported:
Even before any testimony, Sen. Adam Driggs, R-Phoenix, said the proposal, based on that idea of Arizona citizenship, raises a host of unanswered questions.

"I don't understand how you become an Arizona citizen if you move to Arizona, what the bureaucratic model would be," he said. "Do you then need to bring your own birth certificate and both of your parents' birth certificates?"

There were also several children who spoke against the bill, including 12-year-old Heide Portugal who said she was born in this country but her parents were not and that a measure like this, had it been in effect, would have denied her citizenship.

One of the two Arizona Senate bills sought to define who is a citizen of Arizona, and the other sought permission from Congress for states to distinguish between the children of undocumented immigrants and other babies when issuing state birth certificates. Two identical bills filed in the state House have yet to be heard.

Four bills altogether, they were filed late last month as part of a broader campaign by conservative state legislators to introduce bills that would ultimately force a Supreme Court review of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which as interpreted grants citizenship to all those born on U.S. soil.

Arizona's anti-birthright citizenship bills were among several filed at the federal level and in other states last month. Yesterday, opponents of these measures marched outside the state Capitol in Phoenix, some with their children.