Lawmakers eye birthright citizenship

Nov. 4, 2005 at 4:11 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- The U.S. practice of birthright citizenship is in the cross-hairs of Republican lawmakers trying to tackle the issue of illegal immigration.

The Washington Times Friday, quoting congressional sources, said the idea of scrapping birthright citizenship and erecting a border fence with Mexico were seen as strong possibilities in attempting to stem the flow of illegal immigrants into the country.

"There is a general agreement about the fact that citizenship in this country should not be bestowed on people who are children of folks who come into this country illegally," Rep. Tom Tancredo was quoted as saying.

Tancredo, a Colorado Republican, is active on the immigration issue, which President Bush promised to deal with early in his first administration. He has bannered a plan that would grant illegal aliens in the country a guest worker status, but it's opposed by those seeking more stringent immigration rules and by those in support of blanket amnesty for illegal workers.

Republican leaders in the House, as well as other GOP lawmakers concerned with immigration, reportedly meet regularly to attempt to find consensus on possible legislative provisions.

As practiced, anyone born in the United States automatically is granted U.S. citizenship with the exception of children of foreign diplomats. Although that would not give illegal parents immediate and automatic right of abode, it does complicate the immigration process, including deportation proceedings. Those children can later sponsor their illegal parents for legal immigrant status.

The United States is one of just a few countries that grant automatic citizenship to those born in the country.

The newspaper reported that some lawmakers, however, are concerned a change in the practice could necessitate a change in the Constitution. The 14th Amendment reads: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States."

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