But House Republicans want to change that:
[Rep. Steve King (R-IA)] is once again advocating to "clarify" the portion of the 14th Amendment that protects birthright citizenship ... King is not opposed to the Amendment on its face, but maintains that the framers did not account for illegal immigration.Actually, we've had federal naturalization law since 1790--78 years before the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified--and the Fourteenth Amendment was specifically written to protect the children of laborers whose full citizenship status had been challenged. In any case, you can't amend the Constitution by passing ordinary legislation, so Rep. King's legislation would appear to be dead in the water.
In 2010, King told a Cityview, a local newspaper, that "the framers did not consider the babies of illegals when they framed the 14th amendment because we didn't have immigration law at the time, so they could not have wanted to confer automatic citizenship on the babies of people who were unlawfully in the United States."
But it can be a useful barometer on another issue: comprehensive immigration reform, which already promises to generate considerable opposition within the Republican Party. So watch Rep. King's bill closely--the more influential co-sponsors he can bring in, the less likely it is that House Republicans will be willing to consider bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform legislation in 2013. Which, considering what happened the last time a Republican-led House tried to tackle comprehensive immigration reform, might be for the best.
Related: History of Undocumented ("Illegal") Immigration | GOP, Obama Face Tough Decisions on Immigration