House GOP to target birthright citizenship

HOUSE GOP TO TARGET BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP…. The 112th Congress won’t waste any time getting right to some misguided initiatives.

As one of its first acts, the new Congress will consider denying citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants who are born in the United States.

Those children, who are now automatically granted citizenship at birth, will be one of the first targets of the Republican-led House when it convenes in January.

GOP Rep. Steve King of Iowa, the incoming chairman of the subcommittee that oversees immigration, is expected to push a bill that would deny “birthright citizenship” to such children.

There are a few ways to look at this, but let’s first consider the substance. As you’ve probably heard, the 14th Amendment says, in effect, that if you’re born in the United States, you’re a natural-born American citizen. There’s very little wiggle room in the language, and Supreme Court precedents are clear. Conservatives don’t care for this, of course, because of immigration — if a couple is in the U.S. illegally and have a baby, that couple’s child is an American citizen.

And so those who consider themselves “constitutional conservatives” want to push, early in the new year, a measure that appears to violate the Constitution rather blatantly.

But before any such effort could get struck down by the courts, the bill would have to get through the Senate and its Democratic majority, and pick up President Obama’s signature, neither of which seems even remotely likely. House Republicans, in other words, intend to push a misguided culture-war bill right out of the gate in 2011, knowing full well that they’re simply wasting time.

And that in turn raises the larger question of how, exactly, Republicans intend to use their new House majority. Common sense suggests GOP leaders would want to get off on the right foot, tackling issues that Americans care about, proving that they’re serious about policymaking, even if it is far-right policymaking.

By all appearances, that’s not going to happen.

It’s going to be a long two years.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation