4:18 pm
Thu January 27, 2011

Lawmakers Took First Steps to Force a Supreme Court Ruling on The Question of Who is a Citizen

Phoenix, AZ – The battle surrounds the 14th Amendment. It says -- quote -- all
persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to
the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and
of the state wherein they reside. That has been interpreted for
more than a century to mean someone is entitled to citizenship
solely by being born in this country, regardless of whether his
or her parents are here legally. The key is that phrase --
subject to the jurisdiction. Attorney Stephen Montoya said that
settles the matter.

(Ask any first-year law student. Anyone who the police can
apprehend in Arizona is subject to the jurisdiction of Arizona.)

But Rep. John Kavanagh said that wasn't the intention of the
people who crafted the amendment.

(They clearly stated in discussions that the meaning of the term
was that you owe sole allegiance to the United States. And that
was confirmed in the first Supreme Court case, the Slaughter
House cases, that dealt with the definition of that term. It was
reaffirmed in the Elk case. They didn't give citizenship to the
child of Native Americans because their parents owed allegiance
to their sovereign tribe.)

And Sen. Ron Gould said there is no way that the crafters of the
amendment intended that citizenship be applied to those who
entered the country illegally.

(You've got to bear in mind that when they voted on the 14th
Amendment we had open immigration. So they haven't really
addressed the issue of how it pertains to illegal immigration now
that we have controlled immigration.)

The measures, taken together, define who is a citizen of Arizona,
excluding those who owe allegiance to another sovereign. They
also set up a procedure for the state to differentiate between
the birth certificates of children, one when at least one parent
could prove citizenship or legal residence, the other when that
proof is lacking. ++ While some of the arguments against the
proposals were on the legal questions, others got more personal.
Sen. Steve Gallardo drew parallels between creating two types of
birth certificates to the discriminatory practices against

(This takes us back to the time where we had separate drinking
fountains, one for whites and one for blacks. This goes back to
the time when we had separate public swimming pools, one for
whites, one for blacks.) ++

Kavanagh said he fully expects a judge to issue an injunction
barring enforcement of the law once it is enacted. But he said
that paves the way for getting the issue before the U.S. Supreme
Court, which is exactly proponents want. For Arizona Public Radio
this is Howard Fischer.