How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

A short history of the 14th Amendment

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A child participates in a parade of flags, October 2010

We've featured some of the text from the 1868 amendment to the United States Constitution and what the amendment entails, as well as the model bill that some conservative state legislators hope will force federal judges to revise it in their quest to deny U.S. citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants.

The amendment itself has a long and storied history, dating to just after the Civil War. Worth highlighting is the landmark late 1800s legal case that set the precedent for how it is interpreted, and which involved the U.S.-born son of Chinese immigrants.

The 14th Amendment was one of three changes to the Constitution during and after the Civil War era known as the Reconstruction Amendments: The 13th abolished slavery, the 15th prohibited the states from denying the vote to anyone based solely on race. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History's website has a detailed article from a Columbia University history professor on how the amendment came to be, placing it in historical context.

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The model bill to challenge the 14th Amendment

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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.

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14th Amendment, Section 1: The battle begins

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A baby at a May Day rally in downtown Los Angeles, May 1, 2010

After months of strategizing, the battle over the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution is about to officially begin.

On Wednesday, two Arizona Republican leaders, including SB 1070 architect Sen. Russell Pearce, will introduce to press in Washington, D.C. the model legislation that they hope will force the U.S. Supreme Court to review and eventually reinterpret the constitutional right to U.S. citizenship for all those born in this country, with the goal of denying the right to children born to undocumented immigrants.

Arizona lawmakers will not be the only ones introducing the model legislation, the product of a larger coalition of state legislators who share the same goal. Legislators in at least 14 states plan to do the same, with the objective of prompting a judicial review.

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Top five immigration stories of 2010, #2: The Dream Act

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

A student's bold statement, December 8, 2010

The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act wasn't new when 2010 rolled around. The proposed legislation, which would have granted conditional legal status to undocumented young people who attended college or joined the military, had already been knocking around Congress for almost a decade when it was reintroduced last year.

Still, this year has been the Dream Act's biggest by far. After failing as an attachment to a Senate defense bill voted down in September, it was introduced again as a stand-alone bill. In December, it came as close as it ever has to becoming law, clearing the House Dec. 8, but falling five votes short of cloture in the Senate ten days later. The most recent version, tightened and reintroduced in late November, would have allowed young people under 30 to apply for legal status if they met all the requirements, including having arrived before age 16.

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