US Born Children of Illegal Immigrants Targeted for Change in Law

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Anti-immigrant activists are pushing for a California ballot initiative to end public benefits for illegal immigrants, cut off welfare payments for their children and impose new rules for birth certificates.

Although the 14th Amendment clearly states that all persons born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are United States Citizens, backers of the ballot measure argue that the illegal immigrant parents are not “subject to the jurisdiction thereof.”

I will have to read more about the anti-immigrant groups’ legal arguments, but it would seem that the ballot measure is unconstitutional. First, the 14th Amendment refers to persons born in the United States; it says nothing about whether the parents must be subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Second, illegal immigrants are subject to the jurisdiction of the United States despite their illegal immigration status. They can be sued. They can be tried and convicted in criminal courts. The reference to jurisdiction in the 14th Amendment clearly applies to children of foreign diplomats, who are immune from U.S. jurisdiction. These children are considered citizens of their parents’ home countries despite being born in the United States.

Even if this measure passes, I suspect it will be struck down by the federal courts.

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