State Capitol News
8:53 am
Tue February 8, 2011

Move to Deny Citizenship to Children of Illegal Immigrants Stalled

Phoenix, AZ – The two measures, Senate Bills 1308 and 1309, are Arizona's bid
to get the U.S. Supreme Court to take up and clarify the question
of exactly what the 14th Amendment means. Adopted after the Civil
War, it says citizenship is automatic for those born in this
country and -- quote -- subject to the jurisdiction thereof. It
is that phrase which has people like Sen. Ron Gould arguing the
amendment was never meant to include the children of people in
this country illegally. His measures, taken together, would limit
Arizona -- and, by extension, U.S. -- citizenship to children
with at least one parent who could prove citizenship or permanent
legal residency. And it would mark birth certificates with
notations of whether the child was a citizen. Gould, who chairs
the Senate Judiciary Committee, got Chapman University Law
Professor John Eastman to say that while such children are now
considered citizens, that doesn't make it legal.

(It remains an open question. The Supreme Court has never decided
this issue. And I applaud your committee for considering it, one
of the first state legislatures in the country to do so. What
exactly does that clause mean. Does it mean what we backed into,
thinking that just mere birth on U.S. soil is sufficient, we can
just line out that phrase, subject to the jurisdiction? Or did
that subject to the jurisdiction phrase have some meaning?)

But when the proposals got a hearing Monday, Gould found
opposition on multiple fronts, including from members of his own
Republican Party. For example, Sen. Adam Driggs questioned the
whole idea of Arizona citizenship.

(I don't understand necessarily how you become an Arizona citizen
if you move to Arizona, and what the bureaucratic model would be.
If you move to Arizona as a 30-year-old. do you then need to
bring your own birth certificate and both of your parents' birth
certificates?)

It also picked up opposition from some business interests. Kevin
Sandler, owner of a firm that makes audio-visual equipment for
courts around the country, said the fallout from adoption of SB
1070 last year led to loss of business for Arizona firms. He had
to lay off six workers. But Sandler said possible future boycotts
are only part of his worry.

(The other is, we've created a toxic environment. Businesses
don't want to move here. Businesses look and see bad things going
on from their perspectives. And that is an unintended consequence
that we certainly do need to deal with.)

Latino activist Salvador Reza said he sees the issue in simpler
terms -- how it will affect the children who will be born in the
U.S. with no legal status.

(This body, by implemented 1308 and 1309 is actually engaging in
a debate that is not very dissimilar to the debate that happened
in South Africa not so long ago, not very different than the
debate that happened in Nazi Germany not too long ago, where
young kids like this were denied citizenship, for whatever
reasons.)

After three hours of testimony -- and no chance of getting the
votes he needed -- Gould pulled the plug on his proposals. But he
said this isn't the last of it. And Senate President Russell
Pearce said that, if necessary, he will reassign the measures to
a more friendly committee. For Arizona Public Radio this is
Howard Fischer.