Republican senators target birthright citizenship

A group of tea party Republican senators have recently prepared a bill that would restrict automatic birthright citizenship to only those babies born to at least one citizen, legal resident or military service person.

The bill has been prepared by Senators David Vitter of Louisiana and Rand Paul of Kentucky, according to ABC News. Like the time earlier this year when the two senators tried to amend the U.S. Constitution to the same effect, they argue that birthright citizenship as it is practiced today comes from a misinterpretation of the 14th Amendment.

The senators point to “birth tourism” and “anchor babies” as the resulting problem – they say women travel to the U.S. for the sole purpose of giving birth and allowing their child to claim U.S. citizenship, which then allows the infant to sponsor legal residency for parents and extended families.

Michele Waslin, a senior policy analyst with the Immigration Policy Center, says that many of the babies born to mothers who do not live in the U.S. could be the children of vacationers, college students or diplomatic staff – not necessarily women who are strategically choosing to give birth here to acquire citizenship. According to USA Today, a recent report from the Pew Hispanic Center found that the majority of illegal immigrants who gave birth in the US had arrived in the country years before the birth, and therefore before they were pregnant.