Posted on August 20, 2015

Trump Could Boost Bill Ending Birthright Citizenship

Susan Ferrechio, Washington Examiner, August 18, 2015

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s call to end birthright citizenship in the United States could revive a similar proposal in Congress that has never gained traction despite past support from top leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

“I don’t have any doubt that the immigration statement that Trump put out is going to help provide momentum for a number of different pieces of immigration enforcement legislation, and especially birthright citizenship,” Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, told the Washington Examiner.

King is the sponsor of a House bill that would restrict automatic birthright citizenship, but his legislation has stalled, as has a companion measure in the Senate. But the bill could get a boost from Trump, who released an immigration reform plan that also calls for ending the policy.

“End birthright citizenship,” Trump wrote in his proposal. “This remains the biggest magnet for illegal immigration.”

Trump’s idea is hardly new to politics or Congress, where lawmakers have sponsored various bills over the years to curb or end the practice of granting citizenship to children born here to illegal immigrants and other non-citizens.

Watchdog groups say up to 400,000 children are born in the United States to illegal immigrants each year. If they are born on U.S. soil, they are entitled to citizenship under an interpretation of the 14th Amendment. Children of non-citizens who are born here can petition for legal status for their parents when they turn 21, which critics of the law say provides incentive for people to try to cross illegally into the United States in order to give birth.

Reid was once among the supporters of ending birthright citizenship, and sponsored legislation in 1993 that would end the practice.

“If making it easy to be an illegal alien isn’t enough, how about offering a reward for being an illegal immigrant?” Reid said in a Senate floor speech at the time. “No sane country would do that, right?”

Both Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have also shown support, signaling in 2010 they were willing to consider a proposal to change birthright citizenship. “I think it’s worth considering,” Boehner said on “Meet the Press” in 2010.

Reid has since reversed his position and no longer supports making changes to the law, as Democrats have focused on courting the support of Hispanic voters with legislation that would make it easier for those here illegally to become citizens or legal residents.

Republican leaders, including Boehner and McConnell, have since grown quiet when it comes to ending birthright citizenship. {snip}