Utah lawmaker to ask for 14th Amendment changes
September 1, 2010 · Print This Article
BROCK VERGAKIS,Associated Press Writer
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A conservative Utah lawmaker said Monday he will sponsor a resolution asking Congress to end the practice of automatically granting citizenship to everyone born in the United States.
Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clinton, said his resolution will ask Congress to alter the 14th Amendment so citizenship is denied to anyone born to illegal immigrants in an effort to curb government expenses.
The constitutional amendment, adopted in 1868, granted citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” including recently freed slaves in the aftermath of the Civil War.
“If you can get over here, have a child on our soil, these services are yours,” Ray said. “That’s not what this was designed for, but it’s what it’s being used for.”
Ray said he wasn’t sure what would happen to children who have one parent who is an American, but he suspected they would remain citizens.
Changing the U.S. Constitution would require approval by two-thirds majorities in both chambers of Congress and by three-fourths of the states.
Legislation to amend the right, introduced previously in the House, has stalled, but a growing number of Republicans believe it is time to revisit birthright citizenship.
Citizenship as a birthright is rare in other countries, with many requiring at least one parent to be a citizen or legal resident.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has said he supports holding hearings on the issue and last week Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said he’s leaning toward supporting an end to birthright citizenship.
Ray touted figures compiled for him by the Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst showing that U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants in Utah cost taxpayers at least $57 million in social services in the past year. Of that $57 million, more than half is federal money for food stamps. He said that money would better be spent elsewhere.
An estimated 10.8 million illegal immigrants were living in the U.S. as of January 2009, according to the Homeland Security Department.
The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that as of 2008, there were 3.8 million illegal immigrants in this country whose children are U.S. citizens.
Ray’s resolution is expected to be among a host of items related to illegal immigration lawmakers will vote on when they convene in January. Lawmakers are also set to debate an Arizona-style immigration bill that would make it a state crime to be in the country illegally. Some lawmakers are also drafting a proposal to create a guest-worker program.