How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Five key things to know about the birthright citizenship debate

In recent months, the discussion over whether the United States should deny citizenship to children born to undocumented immigrants has moved from the fringes of the immigration debate to center stage.

Emboldened by a recession-era political climate and the legislative victory of Arizona's stringent SB 1070 anti-illegal immigration law, which has inspired multiple spinoffs even as parts of it remain hung up in court, federal and state conservative legislators have introduced a spate of proposals in the past month aimed at ending the longstanding U.S. policy of automatic citizenship at birth.

These measures seek to change how U.S. citizenship is defined under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, either by amendment or reinterpretation. Here is how Section 1 of the amendment reads:

All 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. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

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Many braceros still fighting for lost wages


KPCC's Brian Watt and Quyen Lovrich had a story last night about the continuing struggle of elderly ex-bracero guest workers trying to obtain lost compensation from the Mexican government.

Some 4.6 million Mexican workers were employed as agricultural guest workers in the United States between 1942 and 1964 through what was known as the Bracero Program.

A portion of the braceros' wages was set aside for them decades ago in savings accounts for when they returned home as part of a binational agreement. A 2001 class-action lawsuit to force the disbursement of these savings resulted in the court approval of a settlement in 2008. Some braceros have already been compensated, the organizers of a protest outside the Mexican consulate in Los Angeles said yesterday, but there are tens of thousands of former laborers who are still owed. From the story:

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In the news this morning: Forced trips to Juarez for visas, underwater scooters, New Mexico plan criticized, Egyptian Americans speak out, m

Dying for a Green Card - Mother Jones Story poses the question, "Why does the US force legal immigrants to get their visas in Juárez, Mexico's murder capital?"

U.S. border police nab migrants with dive scooters - Reuters This is different: Two wetsuit-clad men were caught after using self-propelled underwater "dive scooters;" they were found walking up Imperial Beach, south of San Diego.

Dems slam Gov. Susana Martinez over immigration reform plan - The State Column Martinez wants to require state law enforcement officers to ask about the immigration status of crime suspects.

ACLU threatens to sue Georgia over immigration bills; first hearing on bill to get under way - Atlanta Journal-Constitution A state House bill and a similar one in the Senate are said to closely resemble Arizona laws that have been challenged by the federal government.

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From readers, thoughts on the 14th Amendment debate

Photo by Chuck Coker/Flickr (Creative Commons)

U.S. Constitution art, September 2008

Yesterday I wrapped up a weeklong series of posts on the battle over birthright citizenship and the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which as interpreted guarantees citizenship to all those born on U.S. soil.

The series coincided with the introduction of four anti-birthright citizenship bills filed last week in Arizona, intended to force a Supreme Court reinterpretation of the amendment. These were among several related measures filed last month by Republican legislators in Congress and in two other states, all intended to eventually deny citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants.

Along the way, I’ve appreciated a number of interesting comments from Multi-American readers. Some came from readers who appeared to have a legal background (“As any first year law student knows…” one comment began), making for a great discussion on a complicated topic.

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Report: Most undocumented parents arrived long before having kids

Photo by David Herholz/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Babies nap in a Missouri hospital nursery, February 2010

An interesting nugget buried inside a new report from the Pew Hispanic Center is relevant to the current debate over birthright citizenship brewing in Congress and state legislatures.

The report, which provides a snapshot of the current undocumented population in this country, finds that 91 percent of the undocumented parents who had babies in the United States over a one-year period ending last March had already been here several years.

Some of the details:

The Pew Hispanic Center analysis also examined year-of-arrival patterns for unauthorized immigrant parents of babies born from March 2009 to March 2010, to see how long the parents had been in the United States before their children were born. If year of arrival was available for both parents, the analysis used the most recently arrived parent.

According to the analysis, 9% of these unauthorized immigrants who had babies in 2009-2010 had arrived in the U.S. in 2008 or later. An additional 30% arrived from 2004 to 2007, and the remaining 61% arrived in the United States before 2004.

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