Debate Over U.S. Birthright to Babies Born to Illegal Immigrants

AMARILLO, TX - The debate over whether babies born to illegal immigrants should have the right to be U.S. citizens may soon heat up in the Texas legislature.

Some say citizenship is guaranteed to anyone born in the United States under the 14th amendment. Others say it is an issue that has been taken advantage of by illegal immigrants.

The so called "anchor babies" are able to apply for legal status for their parents when they turn 21 but if Representative Leo Berman, author of the proposed HB-293, gets his way the state would prohibit birth certificates to children born to illegal immigrants.

Berman has proposed similar legislation in the past but it has been struck down. Yesterday, Arizona's state legislature debated on their version of the bill which is being held up in committee.

A local political science professor at West Texas A&M University said although the issue is complicated, it all comes down to the definition of a citizen.

"The question is then, can a state define a citizen or must that be defined at the federal level? Can the U.S. congress come up with a law [that defines a citizen] but even there it might be unconstitutional based on what the 14th amendment says a citizen is" said Dr. Dave Rausch, Teel Bivins Professor of Political Science at WT.

According to the 14th amendment: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States".

Rausch said, issues like in-state tuition may come up during the debate in Austin. He added, although this bill may be overshadowed by the state's budget deficit, it won't soon go away.