House conservatives today announced plans to amend a Republican-sponsored immigration reform bill with language calling for the construction of a 2,000-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexico border and a provision that would deny citizenship to children born in the U.S. whose parents arent citizens.
The legislation, sponsored by House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R.-Wis.), is expected to be voted on by the full House as early as next week. Sensenbrenner has worked closely with the White House to craft the bill (H.R. 4437)the reason conservatives cited for the exclusion of key enforcement tools.
Rep. Tom Tancredo (R.-Colo.) organized Thursdays press conference featuring about 20 other conservative Republicans. Each complained about a particular area they want to see addressed (see full list below).
Among those issues likely to be the center of debate next week: the lack of language authorizing a physical structure along the border and the exclusion of a so-called anchor baby provision undoing birthright citizenship.
The House conservatives said they would attempt to attach two bills previously introduced to Sensenbrenners legislation. House Armed Services Chairman Duncan Hunter (R.-Calif.) is sponsoring the TRUE Enforcement and Border Security Act (H.R. 4313), which authorized the fence construction, and Rep. Nathan Deal (R.-Ga.) introduced the Citizenship Reform Act (H.R. 698), which denies birthright citizenship.
Responding to Sensenbrenners bill, Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R.-Ariz.) said, Both the timing and the thin patchwork context of this proposed House bill reinforced my concern that Washington continues to view illegal immigration as a political problem to be managed, rather than an invasion to be stopped.
WASHINGTONIts been a cornerstone of American law since shortly after the Civil War: Children born in the United States become citizens, even if their parents are here illegally.
Now some conservatives are taking aim at that birthright.
They call the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants anchor babies because at age 18 the children can apply to bring other family members here from abroad, and a growing group of House Republicans wants to change the policy. They hope to add a provision to the immigration bill that the House of Representatives will consider next week that would deny citizenship to those children.
They see people are coming here simply for the purpose of having a child here and then, because theyre the anchor, they can have all the family come in on that childs ticket . . . There are thousands upon thousands of people who are doing it, said Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., a leading opponent of illegal immigration. He cited surprising momentum behind the plan. A House bill to make the policy change has 77 co-sponsors.
Because of widespread opposition in the House and even more in the Senate, the measure is unlikely to become law, and would face a constitutional challenge in court if it did. But it promises to make the debate over illegal immigration even more divisive and could reverberate in next years midterm elections.