June 21, 2010

Bill to deny birthright citizenship would face obstacles Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subje

Challenging the 14th Amendment is among the goals of some immigration reform activists and is being considered by lawmakers.

The amendment was adopted after the Civil War to define who is a citizen of the U.S. The amendment in effect overruled the Supreme Court's ruling in the 1857 Dred Scott case that denied citizenship to blacks.

In part, the law states that any person born or naturalized in the U.S. is a citizen and "no state shall make or enforce any law" denying that right.

A group of lawmakers, led by Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore, have stated that they are thinking of filing a bill in the next session that mirrors the controversial Arizona immigration law and goes a step further, including preventing children from becoming citizens at birth if both parents are illegal immigrants.

The Arizona law makes it a crime to be in that state illegally and requires law enforcement officers to check documents of people they reasonably suspect to be there illegally.

A challenge to birthright citizenship has been proposed in Congress as recently as 2009. Arizona lawmakers have stated plans to introduce a law denying citizenship to children of illegal immigrants.

If Oklahoma were to pass legislation restricting citizenship, it likely would be challenged in the federal courts.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association, Immigration Policy Center and legal scholars cite judicial rulings and precedent, executive branch interpretations, congressional law and Supreme

Court rulings in arguing to uphold birthright citizenship.

These groups say altering the amendment or its interpretation would create a subclass of citizens and lead to discrimination.

Ian Bratlie, an immigration attorney, said challenges have gone in favor of immigrants going back to the 1800s.

"Legally, it's a nonstarter," Bratlie said. "There's court case history and a long legislative history supporting it."

The reform activists argue that the amendment was to grant citizenship to former slaves, not illegal immigrants.

Carol Helm, the founder of the Tulsa group Immigration Reform for Oklahoma Now, said it supports the challenge. She said the states should change the practice to what is done internationally when a U.S. citizen gives birth in another country.

"I believe what we would call a certificate of live birth instead of a birth certificate will withstand scrutiny of a lawsuit," Helm said. "Birth certificates are state-issued papers. It's controlled by the states, meaning the states should be the ones to pass certificates of live births for that child."

The notion that a U.S.-born baby can serve as "an anchor" to allow the illegal immigrant parents to remain in the country is "a myth" and "totally impossible," Helm said.

Immigration lawyers also dismiss the term "anchor baby" as false. It is typically a derogatory term used to refer to children born in the U.S. to illegal immigrants.

"But that myth is lingering and is encouraging people to come here," Helm said. "That an illegal mother and dad made the choice to step across the border means they need to be responsible for those choices."

A U.S.-born child does not change the immigration status of a parent, and a child cannot legally petition for a parent until age 21.

An illegal immigrant must return to the home country pending a petition, which may trigger a 10-year ban from re-entering the country. The process involves eligibility based on congressional quotas and sponsor relationships.

Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=11&articleid=20100620_11_A8_DMnsra471080

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