15 June 2010

Arizona Legislators Target Children of Immigrants

And then they came for the children... Apparently riding on a wave of what they see as public support for their drastic immigration measures, legislators in Arizona are taking their war against the state's immigrant community one step further -- this time by seeking to deny citizenship rights to the children of illegal immigrants born in the state of Arizona.

Sound fishy? Somehow odd? Well, that's because the idea directly contravenes the rights guaranteed by the US Constitution. The 14th amendment, enacted to ensure citizenship for freed slaves, clearly states that "All persons, born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States" -- and goes on to say that no state has the jurisdiction to abridge these privileges.

But that's not stopping Arizona state senator Russell Pearce, who is the author of this new legislation. As he sees it, denying the children of illegal immigrants the rights of citizenship will make it much less likely that immigrants will stay in the US illegally -- and with 58% of Americans in a recent poll agreeing that children born of illegal parents do not deserve citizenship (76% of Republicans), he's pretty sure that he's got the political "goodwill" necessary to pass the bill this fall.

The courts may yet have something to say about all of this -- so expect this particular battle to be a long one. But in the meantime, it's clear that we've all got to speak out to protect the rights of immigrant communities in Arizona.

Photo: by Elizabeth Rappaport. (detail) Woman and child at immigration reform march, 21 March 2010, Washington, DC.

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