Activists seek to restrict citizenship for children of illegal immigrants

California activists have begun to collect the signatures they’d need to qualify a ballot measure that would eliminate public benefits for illegal immigrants and challenge the U.S. citizenship of their children born in this country.

Ira Mehlman of FAIR – the Federation for American Immigration Reform – says he wants a national response to the rights and status of illegal immigrants.

Ira Mehlman: "It’s certainly something that needs to be looked at by the courts. The last time any court ruled on the whole citizenship issue was back in the 1890s and it dealt with legal workers from China who were here and had children in the United States.

"So this issue hasn’t been looked at in well over a hundred years and it needs to be examined in light of current realities, and also in light of what the framers of this amendment had back in mind in the 1860s."

Mehlman spoke with KPCC’s "Patt Morrison." To qualify for next year’s statewide election, the ballot petition would need 488,000 valid signatures.

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