August 11th, 2010
01:10 PM ET
4 years ago

Americans split on changing 14th Amendment

(CNN) – Americans are split right down the middle when it comes to the question of changing the Constitution to prevent children of immigrants from automatically becoming U.S. citizens.

According to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll out Wednesday, 49 percent of Americans are in favor of changing that portion of 14th Amendment while 51 percent oppose doing so.

Full results [pdf]

"That's not a recent development," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "A 1993 poll found the same even split on this issue."

The poll also shows a clear partisan divide on the issue, with 58 percent of Republicans supporting a change while only 39 percent of Democrats do so. Independents are split exactly 50-50.

Several leading GOP senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and 2008 presidential nominee John McCain, have said they would support holding hearings into the matter as part of the heated debate over immigration.

The Reconstruction-era 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection of law and defines who is a U.S. citizen. Critics of illegal immigration have long accused migrants - particularly those coming from Mexico or Latin American countries - of giving birth to children in the United States in hopes that their babies' citizenship will keep them in the country as well as to avail their children of the more generous benefits of the wealther United States.

The amendment has been cited as the foundation of U.S. civil rights law in cases ranging from Brown v. Board of Education to last week's decision that struck down a ban on same-sex marriage in California. Changing it would require a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress and the approval of three-quarters of state legislatures.

The survey interviewed 1,009 adult Americans between August 6-10 and carries a sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.


Filed under: CNN Polls • Immigration • issues
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. Paul H

    I think there should be changes especially when people do take advantage of it. There are illegals that come into the country, just to have their babies here. It's wrong, and it needs to change.
    Common sense!!!!!!!!!!

    August 11, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  2. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but...

    Tell ya what, right wingers, we'll trade you the 14th for the 2nd. No anchor babies and no guns. Sound like a good comprimise? Have a nice day!

    August 11, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  3. Duck Fallas

    What if the illegal immigrants were gay Muslims?

    August 11, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  4. CherylS

    I say change it to read that the child is still a US citizen, but that the parents are not automatically granted the right to live here. If they are illegals, they are still illegals and can still be deported. The child can remain behind with legal immigrant family members or leave with their parents.

    August 11, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  5. Ralph

    It is an interesting quandary. Should children of law breakers gain benefit from those broken laws? The question also comes up about precedent. There is already global acceptance (if not agreement) that those born in this country are, by definition, natural born citizens regardless of who their parents are and what their own personal citizenship status happens to be.

    I've always found it interesting that children born abroad to parents that are both American Citizens are not considered natural born citizens. Always seemed a bit odd to me that just because Mom and Dad were on vacation or are military personnel stationed overseas that the child would lose it's opportunity to be a natural born citizen.

    Keep in mind also that this is the same citizenry that contemplated changing the requirement altogether for President to allow non-natural born citizens to run (like the barely serious discussion about Arnold Schwartzenegger running some day).

    August 11, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  6. Kyle Field

    In 10 years it will be 60/40, in 20 70/30, in 30 80/20 and eventually 100% of the population will be hispanic and they will vote NO to changing the 14th amendment...they love their anchor babies, so why would they want to throw away free healthcare and welfare? C'mon, it's a no brainer.

    In the mean time, I'll keep giving 40% of my pay to the gov't to support this non-sense.

    August 11, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  7. Margaret Anderson/Boise, Idaho

    Somebody needs to poll me once in awhile. I am absolutely against changing the 14th Amendment. Are these people crazy? This poll sounds scewed.

    August 11, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  8. anagram_kid

    The solution to illegal immigration is to imprison employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. However, we as a nation have to be prepared to pay the higher cost of goods and services currently provided by illegal aliens as well as the cost of trying and imprisoning the offending employers and detaining and deporting aliens. If the bottom line here (no pun intended) is money, a serious study of the costs needs to be done.

    August 11, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  9. Terry from West Texas

    This is a disgusting topic. There are American living in this country who are not in prison or an insane asylum who favor depriving children of food, education, and health care.

    I hope to God that no one I know is in favor of abusing children who live in America by starving them, letting their illnesses go untreated, and leaving them unable to read, write, or think. If I did encounter such a person, I would have to forcefully convey that person to the county jail, horsewhip him, and hand him over to the country sheriff – otherwise a just God would surely send me to Hell.

    Imagine a bunch of Americans who say to themselves, "We hate that fellow down the street. He speeds on the freeway and he cheats on his taxes. We hate lawbreakers, but we're unable to do anything about him, so let's go beat up his kids."

    I do not care what a child's parents have done; if the child is on American soil he or she will be fed, clothed, cared for, and protected from Pedophiles and Republican voters.

    August 11, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  10. annie s

    So, half of all Americans are fueled by hate and ignorance? No surprise there.

    August 11, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  11. Augsbee

    I don't agree with changing that portion of 14th Amendment.
    I think we should pass a law that any child born in the U.S. from illegal parents stays in the country but the parents must go back and that the child when an adult cannot help the parents become U.S. Citizens. Maybe having to leave the child behind in the U.S. will discourage illegal immigrants from giving birth in our country.
    I also think we should pass a law that states that if a baby is born to foreign parents who are legal in the U.S., parents leave the U.S with their baby/child to be raised in another country, any baby born outside of the U.S. to that U.S. born adult whose parents raised him/her outside the U.S. cannot automatically be given U.S. Citizenship.

    August 11, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  12. blue

    I'm a strong President Obama supporter, but we need to look at France and see if their policy works and how well.

    August 11, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  13. anagram_kid

    The correct title of this article should be 1,009 random Americans split on changing 14th Amendment. How can such a small sampling be meaningful?

    August 11, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  14. Doug

    This law needs to be re-visited. It is a federal law, and not the 14th amendment that needs to be changed. Just because someone is born in the US, that should not automatically make them a US Citizen. How can a child be a US Citizen when neither parent is?? This is costing us billions. Other countries are sending women here specifically to take advantage of this law. Women cross the border from Mexico every day just to have their baby and get US Citizenship. They are using the baby as a free shortcut path to citizenship, without having to go through our immigration system or do any of the work normally required. And taxpayers, many of our own people who don't have jobs, have to pay for it. The whole thing isn't right.

    August 11, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  15. Take America Back: from Texas

    Hey CNN.....As you know.....it is only in the "wording" of the question. Here is the way to ask it; Are you in favor of banning "Illegal" immigrants offsprings from becoming legal citizens simply because they are born in the US by receiving free medical care and other free US tax payer funds?
    Try it this way and check your results!

    August 11, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  16. S Callahan

    I am not for changing the Constitution in any way...thought..with that said..it would be wise to do some historical research and evaluate the meaning of the 14th admen. to clarify for our times today. This constitution has firm principles that apply unto this day into the future, it was ordained as such. It's all in defining the meaning to 'clarity'.

    August 11, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  17. Son of CSM.Wiggins

    Well time to change the 2nd too too many Americans. Are abusing it I'm.just sayin since we are talking dumping on the constitution. Because some don't like it. If we change it let's go all the way back to the founding farthers the everyone but Indians.

    August 11, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  18. Orlando Patriot

    What is aggravating is the 14th Amendment does not NEED to be changed but simply ENFORCED!! The 14th amendment says "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, AND SUBJECT TO THE JURISDICTION THEROF, are citiizens of the United States.......". Most people don't know or forget the second requirement requiring JURISDICTION!!

    What does that mean? It means that anybody who is LEGALLY in the United States (i.e. under the "jurisdiction") and born in this country are citizens. All we have to do is follow the requirements of the14th Amendment AS IT IS WRITTEN and the problem is solved. If you are here illegally then you do not qualify under "jurisdiction" so your baby is NOT a citizen but rather the citizen of your legal homeland.

    However, that is easier said than done. Liberal judges like to twist words and claim it simply meant something else (just like they want to do with the 2nd amendment. What part of "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" do they not understand?)

    August 11, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  19. ABM

    This is out of control. Hypocrites Republicans. Just because you do not control the White House you start to crap on the Constitution. You say one thing and do another.

    Gay marriage ban- violates civil rights and separation of church & state

    Immigration reform – you fight it and ignore the fact that 95% of the population today were decendants of the Native Americans.

    Your oath is to uphold the Constitution and the laws of this country – not rewrite it to accomplish your Fascist agenda.

    August 11, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  20. JR

    It is wrong to negate the citizenship provisions of the 14th Amendment. First, it is the foundation upon which the phrase "land of opportunity" has been built. Second, every citizen is descended from immigrants excepting only those Native Americans who absolutely no ancestry that is not Native American. The idea is extraordinarily hypocritical.

    I would much rather we had a rational and effective immigration policy, that includes border protection, than messing with a fundamental underpinning of American culture.

    But then again all the rhetoric surrounding rescission of those provisions of the 14th Amendment is pure politics from people who refuse, on both sides, to implement sound, effective immigration policies.

    I should say that I do not believe that Arizona 1070 is unconstitutional on its face, or that it is superseded by Federal law.

    August 11, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  21. NVa Native

    Which hypocritical position will the Repubs take next?
    They say they want govt out of our lives only to preach homophobic bigotry and try to change the Constitution to suite their bigotry.
    Pretty darn sleazy stuff.
    Next they'll be talking about the rule of law then break our laws by torturing people .... no .. wait .....?

    August 11, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  22. Montgomery

    Pretty pathetic they even have to bring it up but at some point we are not going to be able to deliver and educate all these babies of people that are not even supposed to be here in the first place. As Americans we are a gracious and giving nation but most of these people don't live in a border states and have not had to contend with overburdened schools and hospitals.

    August 11, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  23. A Kickin' Donkey

    Let's be honest about this. It's only an issue because the Toxic Talk of the GOP has succeeded in convincing many Americans that they need to take back their country from the brown skinned invaders from Mexico.

    I find it intellectually dishonest that Republicans want to defend the 2nd Ammendment of the Constitution but have no problem destroying the 14th. Don't cry about activist judges when your party is the MOST ACTIVE GROUP IN HISTORY at trying to manipulate the Constitution to serve your purposes.

    GOP if you want to repeal the 14th ... go ahead and try. The Constitution provides RULES for changing it. If you can get 2/3rds of the states to support it ... you are in.

    BUT YOU CAN'T ... can you? So instead, the GOP will use this to inflame their xenophobic- base to raise money and push the GOP's policies further to the right.

    August 11, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  24. Shirley in California

    I am AGAINST anything the republicans propose. However, this is a good idea. However, before this one is changed – change the 2nd Amendment. Once they have done that – I am all for amending this one. Until then (rednecks and closet racists) shut the hell up!

    August 11, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  25. New Age Independant

    Tough to answer, but the complete lack of border enforcement has only made this amendment an incentive for illegal immigration. I'd say it's causing more harm than good.

    August 11, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
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