According to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), Congress “ought to take a look at” changing the 14th Amendment, which give the children of illegal immigrants a right to U.S. citizenship. McConnell’s statement signals growing support within the GOP for the controversial idea, which has also recently been touted by Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).
After McConnell stated in an interview that the 14th Amendment provision should be reconsidered in light of the country’s immigration problem. Kyl, then in a TV interview said that there is a constitutional provision in the 14th amendment that has been interpreted to provide that , if you are born in the United States, you are a citizen no matter what. However, according to Kyl, the question is, if both parents are here illegally, should there be a reward for their illegal behavior?
Kyl added that he suggested to Graham that “we should hold some hearings and hear first from the constitutional experts to at least tell us what the state of the law on that proposition is.”
It is unclear when such hearings would occur. Democrats, who control the Senate, set the chamber’s hearing schedule.
Proponents of comprehensive immigration reform strongly oppose the Republican-led effort, which could play a major role in firing up both the left and right this election year.
The escalating debate on the 14th Amendment comes in the wake of the legal battle between Arizona and the federal government over the state’s immigration law. The idea of changing the nation’s policy on this issue has picked up steam among conservatives in recent weeks.
Graham, who had considered working with Democrats on immigration reform earlier this year, now claims that birthright citizenship is a mistake. Adding that we should change our Constitution and say if one comes illegally and has a child, that child is automatically not a citizen.
McConnell said the Obama administration needs to improve its ability to secure the country’s borders before tackling a change to the amendment. However, while Obama’s push for immigration reform is considered dead in the 111th Congress, some Democrats on Capitol Hill are pushing for a scaled-back bill to move this fall.
One such option is Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin’s (D-Ill.) Dream Act, which would give undocumented students the right to apply for permanent residence in the U.S. Durbin’s bill has attracted praise from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), but Durbin has publicly noted that some Democrats are not on board.