January 27, 2011 / 7:06 PM / 8 years ago

Proposed Arizona law targets "birthright" citizenship

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Arizona Republicans are to introduce legislation on Thursday seeking to challenge the right to U.S. citizenship for the children of legal and illegal immigrants born in the state.

Protesters, against SB 1070, hold signs up in front of the Phoenix courthouse in Phoenix, Arizona, July 29, 2010. REUTERS/Rick Scuteri

State Rep. John Kavanagh said Republicans would introduce two bills in the Arizona Legislature seeking to provoke a legal review of the 14th amendment to the Constitution, which anchors citizenship rights for the children of immigrants.

The 14th Amendment guarantees citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.”

It was adopted in 1868 after the U.S. Civil War to ensure citizenship for former African-American slaves.

The immediate aim of the legislation “is to trigger ... a Supreme Court review of the phrase ‘subject to the jurisdiction thereof’ in the 14th amendment,” Kavanagh told Reuters in a telephone interview.

It ultimately seeks “to deny citizenship to any child born of parents who are not citizens of the United States, be they illegal aliens, or foreigners on business or for tourist purposes,” he added.

People protest against Arizona's crackdown on illegal immigrants outside the U.S. consulate in Hermosillo May 14, 2010.REUTERS/Alonso Castillo

The proposals are to be introduced separately in the state House of Representatives and Senate, where Republicans have a majority.

Kavanagh said the legislation would likely come to a vote in several weeks, after legislators vote on the cash-strapped border state’s budget.

The move by Arizona Republicans is an opening salvo in a coordinated battle announced by legislators in several states in recent weeks that seeks to deny birthright citizenship to children of illegal immigrants.

It follows the desert state’s tough immigration crackdown last year that required police to quiz those they suspected were in the country illegally about their immigration status. Key parts of the state law were blocked by a federal judge before they came into effect.

Arizona has appealed the ruling and is fighting several other civil suits lodged by plaintiffs including Hispanic and civil rights’ groups.

On Thursday, state Democrats slammed their Republican colleagues’ latest proposal as a waste of “taxpayers’ time and money” that would tie the state up in further costly litigation.

“Instead of focusing on jobs, the economy and a strong future for Arizona, (the backers of the law) want to get Arizona involved in another losing lawsuit,” state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said in a statement.

“Republicans should try standing up for real immigration reform instead of another political battle that solves nothing and costs money,” she added.

Reporting by Tim Gaynor; additional reporting by David Schwartz; editing by Greg McCune

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