States That Try to Circumvent 14th Amendment Will Face Legal Challenge

For immediate release: Jan. 5, 2011

Contact: Madeline Friedman (212) 739-7581


Any state that tries to circumvent the 14th Amendment’s American Citizenship Clause with a state law to ban birthright citizenship will face a legal challenge, a national civil rights group announced today.

LatinoJustice PRLDEF is prepared to sue any state that enacts laws preventing children born in the U.S. to undocumented parents from becoming citizens at birth.

That right is covered by the U.S. 14th Amendment and has been upheld by the courts numerous times.

“The very purpose of the 14th amendment was to insure that we would not have a caste system in which the children born in our country would have no chance of ever becoming citizens equal to all others,” said Cesar Perales, President and General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “It seems unbelievable that there would be politicians today that would try to in fact create this caste system—all the while claiming states' rights like the racists of yesteryear."

Section 1 of the 14th Amendment provides that all persons born in the United States are citizens of the United States and that no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.

Federal courts have repeatedly ruled that the 14th amendment establishes that all people who are born in the United States are American citizens.

“Spending time targeting children born in this country is unconstitutional and misguided,” Perales said. “These silly efforts will only results in these states getting sued, and their positions will be rejected. These efforts waste resources at a time when these legislatures should focus on creating jobs and fixing the economy.”

One of the misconceptions propelled by immigration reductionists is that having a US citizen child confers immigration benefits on the parents and extended family. This is a false assumption, as immigration law does not allow a US citizen child to sponsor his/her parents until he/she turns 21. If the parent or family member had come to the US without proper documentation that person would usually face a multi-year or lifetime ban from immigration to the USA, regardless of sponsorship.

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