The Case for Correction Through Legislation

By Brian Bilbray
Volume 7, Number 1 (Fall 1996)
Issue theme: "'Anchor babies' - the citizen-child loophole"

In the debate surrrounding the strengthening of our immigration laws to reduce illegal immigration, citizenship is a pivotal concept. In March of 1995, I introduced the "Citizenship Reform Act" (H.R. 1363) which denies automatic citizenship to children born to illegal aliens on U.S. soil. The difference between my legislation and others pending before the House of Representatives is that H.R. 1363 makes these changes statutorily and does not makes the changes through a Constitutional Amendment.

The current interpretation of the law allows children of illegal alien parents born on U.S. soil to automatically be granted U.S. citizenship. It is my view that this is an insult to legal aliens, such as my mother, who observed our immigration laws and came to the U.S. through the proper channels. However, the most striking fact about this issue is that there is no basis in 1aw or Supreme Court rulings for the current interpretation. As I will explain further, the Fourteenth Amendment, and the debate surrounding it, is very clear in its assertion that "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the Jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States." In addition, there has been no Supreme Court ruling on a case dealing with the children of illegal aliens.

" is clearly and completely within the authority of the Congress of the United States to further define

the citizenship laws of our

great country." Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment states that "The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article." Congress has employed this Constitutional power by enacting legislation which clarified the citizenship status of American Indians. After passage of the Fourteenth Amendment%2