Arizona birthright bill 'may violate constitution'

 

Los Angeles

The state of Arizona is returning to the front line of the simmering debate over immigration after local politicians unveiled a plan to scrap the law requiring all children born on American soil to be classified as US citizens.

Declaring war on so-called "anchor babies", the author of the controversial legislation, Republican John Kavanagh, said he believed it to be "irresponsible and foolish to bestow citizenship based upon one's GPS location at birth".

Under his bill, authorities will in future issue one of two forms of birth certificate to a newborn baby. The offspring of legal immigrants and existing citizens will get one declaring them to be a bona fide American. Anyone else will get a different certificate, which makes it impossible to access public services. That will stop the parents of "anchor babies" from being able to "immediately acquire the right to full benefits, everything from welfare to cheese", Mr Kavanagh said, adding that the current citizenship law "increases the costs to the states" of illegal immigration.

His initiative has strong support in Arizona's conservative legislature, which last year passed America's toughest anti-immigration law. It required police to stop and question anyone they thought might be in the US illegally, but was later scrapped after courts found it would encourage racial profiling.

Although almost all illegal aliens in Arizona are Latino, Mr Kavanagh's supporters were quick to dispute allegations of playing the race card yesterday, saying the new law is designed to deter all illegal aliens, regardless of their skin colour. "You can call me a racist all day. It's not a racist issue, it's a legal issue," said Republican state senator Ron Gould. "I don't care whether they are from Scotland and they are here illegally or whether they are from Mexico and are here illegally. If they are illegal, they don't deserve to be here."

Experts nonetheless believe Mr Kavanagh's bill will fall foul of a court challenge. It appears to violate the 14th amendment of the US Constitution, which ensures that freed slaves were not exiled and guarantees citizenship to "all persons born or naturalised in the United States".

The irony of a right-wing Republican endorsed by the "Tea Party" movement – which is supposed to hold the Constitution as sacrosanct – writing a law which violates one of that Constitution's key principles has not been lost on Mr Kavanagh's critics. "They are going to end up in court and drive up litigation costs and give us more of a bad reputation as kind of a crazy state," Democrat Daniel Patterson of Tucson said.

The move nonetheless comes at a time when birthright citizenship is becoming a hot topic across the nation, where an estimated 11 million people are currently living illegally. A similar bill to Mr Kavanagh's was recently introduced by Republicans in Indiana. Other ones are being prepared by the party's representatives in Pennsylvania and roughly a dozen other states.

In Arizona it plays into a particularly heated debate. Although the number of illegal immigrants in the state has declined during the recession, to about 600,000, voters have recently elected a string of right-wing representatives accused of using the issue as a political football.

The most prominent is police officer Joe Arpaio, who styles himself as "America's toughest Sheriff" and presides over an area that includes Phoenix. This week he launched one of his periodic "sweeps" of the city, in which officers scoured the Hispanic community for illegal immigrants. Twenty-two were arrested in the first 24 hours.

In a surreal twist, Mr Arpaio's officers were assisted by a newly formed "Illegal Immigration Enforcement Posse" made up of civilians who volunteer their free time to the cause of harassing immigrants. Among their number was Steven Seagal, the film star, whose wife, Erdenetuya, is from Mongolia.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleMemoir extracts show iconic designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Life and Style
fashionAlexander Fury's Spring/Summer 2015 London Fashion Week roundup
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late on stage in Brixton show
News
i100
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
News
people''Women's rights is too often synonymous with man-hating'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

Nursery Nurse

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam