Washington (CNN) – As the debate over immigration rages on in advance of this year's midterm elections, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has joined other prominent GOP senators in suggesting that so-called "birthright citizenship" be given a closer look in Capitol Hill hearings.
The 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which was ratified in the wake of the Civil War, provides in part that "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." The provision has the effect of granting "birthright" citizenship to anyone born in the U.S. - even if both of the person's parents are in the country illegally.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, told The Hill newspaper that he thinks the constitutional provision merits closer scrutiny "'I think we ought to take a look at it – hold hearings, listen to the experts on it.'"
McConnell also told the newspaper, "'I haven't made a final decision about it, but that's something that we clearly need to look at. Regardless of how you feel about the various aspects of immigration reform, I don't think anybody thinks that's something they're comfortable with.'"
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain told CNN Tuesday he supports the "concept of holding hearings" on the matter but wouldn't articulate his position on whether the 14th Amendment should be changed.
Updated after the jump with a statement from Sen. McCain.
McCain is up for re-election in November and faces a primary challenger who has sought to make immigration and border security issues in the GOP contest. In recent months, McCain has been joined by his fellow Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl in highlighting the need for more secure borders.
Speaking Sunday to CBS, Kyl, who is McConnell's top lieutenant, also expressed a willingness to hold hearings about birthright citizenship.
"And so the question is," said Kyl, "if both parents are here illegally, should there be a reward for their illegal behavior?"
Kyl also said Sunday that fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina had broached the issue of birthright citizenship. "And what I suggested to him was that we should hold some hearings and hear first from the constitutional experts to at least tell us what the state of the law on that proposition is."
Commenting on a federal court's decision to block a key provision of Arizona's controversial immigration law, Sen. Graham said last week that he thought the concept of birthright citizenship was "a mistake."
Graham, who has been a key Republican negotiator on immigration reform, said that in addition to securing the borders, developing a comprehensive immigration policy should include taking a second look at granting citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants.
"I may introduce a constitutional amendment that changes the rules if you have a child here," Graham said in a Fox News Channel interview on July 28. "Birthright citizenship I think is a mistake, that we should change our Constitution and say if you come here illegally and you have a child, that child's automatically not a citizen."
Graham added that the availability of birthright citizenship "attracts people here for all the wrong reasons."
Related video: Does the 14th Amendment reward undocumented immigrants?
Ignited by the passage of Arizona's immigration law, the issue of immigration reform has flared up as a political issue during this midterm election year. Graham, who was the Republican linchpin in negotiations on both an immigration bill and a climate bill, withdrew from bipartisan negotiations on the climate bill after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid signaled that he would put an immigration bill on the Senate's agenda before year's end.
UPDATE 4:10 p.m. ET: Sen. John McCain released a statement Tuesday afternoon:
“Congressional hearings are always warranted when members of Congress raise the issue of amending our Constitution. Our Founding Fathers intentionally made the process of amending our Constitution extremely difficult. I believe that the Constitution is a strong, complete and carefully crafted document that has successfully governed our nation for centuries and any proposal to amend the Constitution should receive extensive and thoughtful consideration. Immediate and full implementation of the McCain-Kyl 10-Point Border Security plan will assist in addressing concerns associated with this issue," McCain said.
–CNN Congressional Correspondent Brianna Keilar contributed to this report.