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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Citizenship in the News

One of the distinctive features of our text is a chapter devoted exclusively to citizenship. A spate of recent stories suggests that the topic is most timely:

Colorado lawmakers are weighing a Republican proposal that would prevent people from voting if they can't prove they're U.S. citizens.

Supporters and opponents testified Wednesday on the bill that would direct the secretary of state's office to compare voter rolls with state and federal records to determine if registered voters are U.S. citizens. When there is doubt, people would receive a letter asking them to show proof of citizenship within 90 days. They would be ineligible to vote if they don't comply.

Lawmakers will vote on House Bill 1252 Thursday.

Supporters say they bill is necessary to prevent fraud. Opponents say the bill could unduly burden people who are eligible to vote.

Other Republican legislation requiring proof of citizenship to vote has already failed in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Via the Sacramento Bee, a report from The Philadelphia Inquirer:

"Once a child is born here, the parents make the argument that they should be allowed to stay as that child's guardian. They are using that child as an anchor (to) play on our heartstrings," said Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Butler County Republican who has built a national reputation as a crusader against what he calls "illegal alien invaders."

Immigrant advocates dismiss his contention as myth, and point to a recent study that found that undocumented immigrants generally "come for work and to join family members." The Washington-based, nonprofit Immigration Policy Center concluded "they do no come specifically to give birth" and game the immigration system.

Such assertions have not tempered the efforts of immigration-control proponents to effectively do away with "birthright citizenship" for the offspring of illegal immigrants.

On the federal level, two Republican senators, David Vitter of Louisiana and Rand Paul of Kentucky, want to accomplish it by amending the Constitution - allowing automatic citizenship only if a child has at least one parent who already is a citizen, a legal permanent resident or an active-duty soldier.

On the state level, Metcalfe, joined by lawmakers from 40 others states, is promoting a package of model legislation under the rubric "National Security Begins At Home." Among those suggested bills: In lieu of automatic citizenship, states would issue distinctly marked birth certificates for the newborns of illegal immigrants, to distinguish them from U.S. citizens.

Pointing out that immigration policy is a federal prerogative, immigrant advocates say that such proposals are beyond the scope of state lawmakers' authority, not to mention unconstitutional

The Manchester (NH) Union-Leader reports:

"BIRTHER" BILL DEAD? A House committee voted 18-0 today to recommend that the full House kill a so-called "birther" amendment that would require candidates to present their birth certificates when filing to run for President in the New Hampshire first-in-the-nation primary.

The original amendment would have forced candidates filing for the 2012 presidential primary, including President Barack Obama, to present proof of being born in the United States, including a birth certificate.

Proponents then tried to make the bill more palatable by moving the effective date back from 60 days after passage to Jan. 1, 2013 to have it take effect after the primary.

That effort came close, but failed on a 10-8 vote, said House Election Law Committee Chairman David Bates, R-Windham, a supporter of the measure.

On a less controversial note, The Boston Herald reports:

With joyful tears and cheers, 200 proud new citizens of the United States took the oath of American citizenship at a John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum ceremony today.

Honorable Judge Richard G. Stearns presided over the ceremony.

In celebration of their new citizenship, the Kennedy Library presented everyone with a commemorative edition of President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address. A reception sponsored by the Boston Red Sox [team stats] Foundation and Highland Street Foundation was held immediately after.