Targeting Illegal Immigrants

Los Angeles Times, May 9, 2009

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But that’s no excuse for legalizing discrimination, which is precisely what would happen under a state ballot initiative now in the signature-gathering stage and targeted for next year’s June election. If passed, it would require all parents of newborns in California to prove U.S. citizenship or legal residency in order to receive their baby’s birth certificate. Those who could not would have to pay a $75 fee for a certificate noting the child’s “Birth to a Foreign Parent.” The U.S. Department of Homeland Security would be alerted to the discrepancy. And finally, in willful ignorance of previous California Supreme Court rulings, the measure would attempt to deny health benefits to illegal immigrants. Those are federally mandated benefits, beyond the reach of state law.

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Although neither the U.S. Supreme Court nor Congress has ever explicitly ruled on whether the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants are entitled to citizenship under the 14th Amendment, the assumption has long been that they are. If there are genuine doubts about whether that assumption is wrong, then let’s have that debate. But don’t sneak it into an initiative promoted as a tool to “reduce crime” and keep deported criminal “aliens” from returning to the U.S. because their citizen children are here.

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