January 27, 2011 / 11:27 PM / 9 years ago

Proposed Arizona law targets "birthright" citizenship

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

Republicans introduced bills in the Arizona Legislature that aim 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 aim is “to trigger ... a Supreme Court review of the phrase ‘subject to the jurisdiction thereof’ in the 14th amendment,” said Rep. John Kavanagh, one on the backers of the legislation.

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.

A total of four proposals were introduced, two in the state House of Representatives and two in the 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 legislation is part of a coordinated drive by Republican legislators in several U.S. states that seeks to deny birthright citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants

The National Conference of State Legislatures said Arizona is the sixth state to introduce legislation relating to birth records or birth certificates and the foreign born so far this year.

The current drive 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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