New York Times editorial
June 18, 2010
Not satisfied with a shameful new law that invites, indeed demands, racial profiling, some Arizona politicians are now pushing for a law that would deny citizenship to babies born in Arizona whose parents cannot prove they are legal immigrants.
The 14th Amendment, adopted after the Civil War, states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.” It could not be clearer.
The Constitution apparently does not matter to these politicians. They also do not seem to care that Arizona is earning a national reputation for intolerance and racism — and if it continues this way will pay an economic price in boycotts of its lucrative tourism industry.
When State Senator Russell Pearce first started pushing for a law that requires police forces to stop and check anyone who appears to be an illegal immigrant, he was dismissed as a crackpot. The legislation passed both houses of the Republican-controlled Legislature with distressingly large majorities. Gov. Jan Brewer then proudly signed it into law.
Now Mr. Pearce is at it again with this new proposal, meant to end what he calls the “inadvertent and unforeseen” consequences of the 14th Amendment’s citizenship clause. He pins it all on the phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” arguing that the babies of illegal immigrants — like the children of foreign diplomats — do not have full allegiance to this country, and thus do not deserve automatic citizenship. It is a spurious argument.
Mr. Pearce’s bill, we fear, is likely to get a sympathetic hearing in Arizona’s Legislature. Governor Brewer told interviewers this month that illegal immigrants should leave and take their citizen children with them.
President Obama, who has criticized the first Arizona law, has so far failed to use his power to block it, though his administration is preparing a lawsuit to do so. He needs to reassert sole federal authority over a rational and humane immigration system, and stop Arizona and other states from creating a crazy quilt of harsh statutes, some crazier than others.
Until the president and all people of conscience stand up to these bullies, they will keep pushing. The Constitution and the civil rights of thousands of people must not be violated this way.