According to the Pew Hispanic Center, an estimated 340,000 babies were born in the U.S. in 2008 to unauthorized immigrant parents—8% of all babies born that year (Passel and Taylor, 2010). As guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, all babies born in the U.S., including those born to unauthorized immigrant parents, are automatically granted U.S. citizenship. However, as the debate about immigration reform has intensified in recent years, some prominent elected officials have called for the repeal of birthright citizenship.The new Pew Hispanic survey asked respondents two questions about birthright citizenship. First, it asked if they knew birthright citizenship is guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. Fully 93% of Latinos say they are aware of this. Among the general public, nearly as many (85%) said the same (Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 2010).The survey followed up with a question asking respondents if they wanted the Constitution changed to repeal birthright citizenship. On this question, nearly eight-in-ten (78%) Latinos say they do not want the Constitution changed, more than the share (56%) of all Americans who say the same (Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 2010a).
Hispanic Americans favor a path to citizenship for undocumented aliens, but there has been substantial change in perceptions of the undocumented population:
Hispanics are divided when asked to assess the effect of illegal or undocumented immigration on Hispanics already living in the United States. Three-in-ten (29%) believe the overall impact of unauthorized immigrants is positive. But similar proportions say that the impact of these immigrants is negative (31%) or that there has been no effect one way or the other (30%). These results contrast sharply with the findings of a similar question asked three years ago (Pew Hispanic Center, 2007).3At the same time, just 20% of respondents three years ago said the impact of the increasing number of unauthorized immigrants was negative. That is 11 percentage points lower than the share of Latinos who say the same today. Meanwhile, the proportion of Latinos who say unauthorized immigration has no effect increased by 10 percentage points—20% in 2007 versus 30% in 2010. Then, half of all Hispanics (50%) said the growing number of undocumented immigrants had a positive effect on the existing Hispanic community—fully 21 percentage points higher than the proportion who say that in the new survey.