Conservative lawmakers from five state legislatures launched a joint campaign on Wednesday to try to cancel automatic United States citizenship for the American-born children of illegal immigrants.
At a news conference here, Republican legislators unveiled two model measures they said would be introduced in at least 14 states. One was a bill clarifying the terms of citizenship in those states to exclude babies born here of illegal immigrant parents. The second was a compact between states to adopt common positions on the issue.
The lawmakers acknowledged that the state bills were not likely to have a practical impact anytime soon, since they would be quickly challenged as unconstitutional. But the legislators — from Arizona, Georgia, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Carolina — said they chose the inaugural day of a new, Republican-controlled House of Representatives to open the first round of litigation they hope will lead to the Supreme Court and also spur action by lawmakers in Washington.
Marc Lacey writes, also in The New York Times:
Most scholars of the Constitution consider the states’ effort to restrict birth certificates patently unconstitutional. “This is political theater, not a serious effort to create a legal test,” said Gabriel J. Chin, a law professor at the University of Arizona whose grandfather immigrated to the United States from China at a time when ethnic Chinese were excluded from the country. “It strikes me as unwise, un-American and unconstitutional.”
The 14th Amendment, adopted in 1868, was a repudiation of the Supreme Court’s 1857 ruling, in Dred Scott v. Sandford, that people of African descent could never be American citizens. The amendment said citizenship applied to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.”
In 1898, the Supreme Court, in United States v. Wong Kim Ark, interpreted the citizenship provision as applying to a child born in the United States to a Chinese immigrant couple.
Still, some conservatives contend that the issue is unsettled. Kris Kobach, the incoming secretary of state in Kansas and a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City who has helped draft many of the tough immigration regulations across the country, argued that the approach the states were planning would hold up to scrutiny.
There was a disruption: