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Old 06-14-2010, 01:46 PM
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Jeanfromfillmore Jeanfromfillmore is offline
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Default Arizona May Target Children of Illegal Immigrants

Arizona May Target Children of Illegal Immigrants
(June 14) -- Arizona Republicans have a new target in their crusade against illegal immigration: "anchor babies," or children born in the U.S. whose American citizenship often helps keep their undocumented parents from being deported.

If the state Republicans get their way, children born to illegal immigrants in the U.S. will not automatically become citizens. Critics of the new legislation say it would contradict the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which accords citizenship to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States." That 1868 amendment secured citizenship rights for freed slaves.

But state Sen. Russell Pearce, a Republican from Mesa, Ariz., does not see it that way. Pearce, the main sponsor of the "anchor baby" bill, says the 14th Amendment has been "hijacked" by illegal immigrants. "They use it as a wedge," he said in an interview with Time magazine. "This is an orchestrated effort by them to come here and have children to gain access to the great welfare state we've created."

Arizona Republicans may introduce the new legislation as early as this fall.

Pearce is on a roll. The lawmaker also helped lead the charge for Arizona's tough new immigration law, SB 1070, which requires law enforcement to verify someone's immigration status if "reasonable suspicion" exists that the person is in the country illegally.

The law has been denounced by human rights groups and Democrats, who say it encourages racial profiling and is discriminatory against Latinos. President Barack Obama has called the law "misguided."

But among the electorate, the law is intensely popular. In a recent Rasmussen poll cited by Time, 58 percent of Americans and 78 percent of Republicans said they support the Arizona law. Which may be why Arizona Republicans feel so emboldened to go after children.

"It is illegal to trespass into our country," Ariz. Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, said in an interview with ABC Tucson last week. "[The bill] won't tear families apart. They can take their children back with them." Brewer is likely to support the "anchor baby" bill.

But some critics say deportation already breaks apart thousands of families and maintain that the "anchor baby" legislation will make things far worse.

Silvia Rodriguez, for example, came to the U.S. with her parents when she was only 2. She told ABC Tucson that her parents moved out of Arizona because they were afraid of being deported and leaving her homeless.

Others say that denying citizenship to children born in the U.S. is an extraordinary step that federal courts are likely to reject.

"I can't imagine a federal judge saying this would be OK," Arizona attorney Dan Barr told Time.

But Pearce, who did not immediately return calls for comment Monday, said the 14th Amendment has been reinterpreted to benefit illegal immigrants. On his website, Pearce contends that "government and the individual" determine citizenship "rather than place of birth" and notes that he is a "fifth-generation Arizonan."
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