By Billy Corriher. Mr. Corriher is a 2010 ACS Public Interest Fellow and 2009 graduate of Georgia State University College of Law.
A recent study from the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center found that, in 2008, eight percent of the children born in the U.S. had at least one parent who was an undocumented immigrant. If some Republican senators would have their way, however, those children would be forced to live in the shadows of our society, like their undocumented parents.
The 14th Amendment guarantees that anyone born in the United States is a citizen entitled to all of the rights and privileges associated with citizenship. Senator Lindsey Graham recently made headlines for calling this first clause of the 14th Amendment "a mistake." In a Fox News interview, Graham said, "We can't just have people swimming across the river having children here - that's chaos." Graham and other Republicans have proposed that we repeal the "birthright citizenship" clause.
After the Civil War, Congress passed the 13th Amendment to eradicate slavery, and the 14th Amendment guaranteed that children of freed slaves would be considered citizens. The 14th amendment also overruled the Supreme Court's iniquitous Dred Scott decision, which held that black persons could never be citizens of the United States. For the past 150 years, all persons born in the United States, regardless of color or ancestry, have been considered citizens. Now, Graham says he wants to change this because illegal immigrants "come here to drop a child."
The idea that the 14th Amendment serves as an incentive for illegal immigration is preposterous. The Pew Hispanic Center study found that over 80 percent of the mothers had been in the United States for more than a year, and over half have been here for over five years. The only incentive that immigrants need is the opportunity to build a better future. For 150 years, hard working immigrants have viewed America as the Promised Land, and they came here to build this country with their hands.