August 11th, 2010
01:10 PM ET
8 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. Alex

    How disgraceful that so many Americans trumpet upholding the Constitution, and yet so quickly abandon Constitutional protections for its people.

    Of course, this is the same rabble that supports AZ's racial profiling and believes in a return to the gold standard, so I shouldn't be surprised.

    August 11, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  2. felicia

    Here's my thing why are we even discussing this, i am gonna need for these racist a$$ retards to calm their monkey a$$ down. I am sick and tired of these fools acting brand new. Please everyone please get out and these retards out of office. "VOTE NO TO THE REPIGS"

    August 11, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  3. Darth Vadik, CA

    Amazing how the right wants to change the constitution when it comes to the 14th amendment, but GOD FORBID ANYONE TOUCHES THE 2nd AMENDMENT...

    Ahhh, the right HYPOCRICY has no bounds.

    What happens if a plane is overflying the US and a lady gives birth if the 14th Amendment is overturned (which will NEVER happen)???

    BTW, the rule around the world is that the baby born in an airplane over any country has the right to be a citizen of that country...OH MY GOD, EVEN THE FRENCH CAN BE US CITIZENS, quick righties call the crazy man Tancredo, LOL

    August 11, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  4. Big George in Big D

    This crap about making a child born here from ILLEGAL parents is just plain nonsense! Then we pay to support that child and its parents forever! No other country does that and this country needs to stop!

    August 11, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  5. Dan

    It only makes sense that at least ONE of your parents would have to be a legal resident/citizen for you to get citizenship here. 14th Amendment Birthright was established for disenfranchised ex-slaves, NOT for illegal immigrants.

    How many of us are tired of giving our tax money to support what should be citizens of another country? We are near bankruptcy as it is, and need to close this gap, once and for all.

    No more anchor-babies, no more social benefits for illegal immigrants, period. Our politicians need to work for OUR CITIZENS, not another country's. Thank you.

    August 11, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  6. Jennifer

    Are we American's moving backwards? If someone is born in any Country in the World they automaticaly become citizens of that Country.
    Why is that even a debate? We have a World that is crumbling faster that we can say Peace.Yet we are spending time trying to change something that should be considered natural. Another thing that is
    Natural and we are spending time and money to change, is the marriage between a MAN and a WOMAN. It is Natural so why change it. Only a MAN and a WOMAN can have children. So why is there a debate. A Man has a Penis an Woman has a Vagina. That is natural fit and a wonderful creation for God. Any other way is fabricated and cannot and will not ever work. Change the laws all you can that truth will never change. Thank you and may God bless you all.... gays,lesbins, racist.haters of the poor and havenot. God must come for his World soon. It is getting hard to bare. President Obama we pray for safety of you and your family....

    August 11, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  7. Sensible Cape Coral FL

    Could the Republicans have possibly come up with a stupider idea than this? Poor Lincoln must really be turning over in his grave when he sees what has happened to his party.

    August 11, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  8. vic

    Americans want secure the border they didn’t ask to change 14th amendment
    Republicans doesn’t solve the problem they stir the problems and get the votes

    August 11, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  9. sm

    You can change the 14th if I can change the 2nd

    August 11, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  10. Zarathustra

    It wouldn't matter if 99.9999% wanted to end birthright citizenship. Those that rule us want the invasion to continue, and so it shall.

    August 11, 2010 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  11. normajean

    It's not the Americans that aim to change the 14th amendment, it's the politicians who want to make a change for their own advantage. The people I've spoken to feel as I do that we don't want the Constitution changed. Our country was founded on this work by the men who founded this country and I don't trust the working politicians not to mess it up.

    August 11, 2010 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  12. Marcus

    'Changing it would require a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress and the approval of three-quarters of state legislatures.'

    Changes of it to happen?
    Because the 14th Ammendment (albeit created to recognize the citizenship, not give to but RECOGNIZE IT, of former slaves) was purposely made so ample that it would made crystal clear what most of Americans believed that it was a 'not yet made into law' fact (back then): If you are born in USA' soil (or the equivalent) then you are an US citizen.
    That was the rule for practically all the XIX Century, hence the fact that the first laws about immigration appeared in the second half of the XIX Century.
    For over two centuries that has been the rule of the land (save for that horrible SCOTUS ruling that forced the creation of the 14th Ammendment), and you ca't and won't find enough votes to change it.

    August 11, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  13. GI Joe

    I find it hypocritical for republicans to campaign as the party wanting to protect the constitution, yet complain that certain parts will be changed if they are elected.

    Idiots. NO we won't vote them back in this NOvember !!

    August 11, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  14. Rush Goebbels

    Another Limbaugh sponsored act of terrorism.

    August 11, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  15. Don

    Change it to anyone born of parents of undocumented immigrants. That should include all of us. Let's get this silliness behind us.

    August 11, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  16. DorisV

    All children living in the USA should have access to education. Do we want to foster illiteracy in this country? We need to educate ALL.

    August 11, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  17. Drew

    doesn't the GOP and the Tea Party make a big deal out of wanting to abide by the constitution? how does this make sense?

    August 11, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  18. Pragmatic

    Then what's next? Which amendment just won't suit the public and will be revised? The First or Second?

    Look at the amendment process: it is long and difficult – just as it should be. If people would work toward solving illegal immigration, revising the 14th amendment would be a moot point by the time it happened.

    It's just another republican "red herring" – trying to distract Americans from finding real solutions ... wouldn't want to jail or fine any of those rich GOP donors who love "cheap, illegal labor!"

    August 11, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    "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."

    Translation: "Beaker and McPampers are terribly interested in exploring all potential avenues for delaying the loss of white majority status in this country and they are both well aware that a significant portion of the GOP/conservative base was scared witless by Obama's election because it was affirmative proof (in their simple, fearful, bigotted minds) of what will happen every election if white people are no longer the majority."

    August 11, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  20. Shawn

    The dems aren't trying to change americ, infact it's GOP who's trying to throw us a fast ball. It was George Bush (W) who disregarded the constitution and now its his very own party who wishes to change it. LEAVE MY CONSTITUTION ALONE!

    August 11, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  21. Ian

    Thankfully a split right down the middle makes it so that the supports of revision aren't even close to the 2/3 of each chamber of Congress and 3/4 of state legislatures needed to amend the Constitution.

    August 11, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  22. lolo

    The only reason they want to change it , is that they will not have to encounter a person of color ever running for the presidential position ever again. Stevie Wonder can even see their reasoning for trying to do so. Just racist hypocrites, those republicans and tea baggers.

    August 11, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  23. Dan G.

    Based on CNN and other journalist who have tried to imply the GOP wants to repeal the 14th amendment, no wonder it isn't higher. May be with some factual reporting you would end up with a different result.

    August 11, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  24. Carmelle

    Will it be retro-active for all the European and Asian descents too?

    Or just for the Mexicans (and Haitians too I guess)?

    August 11, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  25. slipthalo

    And do they realize how long this change would take – if started at all? It won't be done in a year, nor 2 years nor even 3 years as it takes a LONG time to amend the Constitution as it should. These people though act as though it would be a done deal asap.

    August 11, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
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