Arizona Senate defeats controversial birthright measures
March 18th, 2011
09:51 AM ET
4 years ago

Arizona Senate defeats controversial birthright measures

(CNN) - A series of hot-button immigration bills in Arizona that in part proposed stripping citizenship rights of children of illegal immigrants went down in defeat Thursday, averting for now a legal showdown that would likely have reached the Supreme Court.

A divided state Senate voted against a string of proposals that aimed to deny citizenship rights to children of illegal immigrants born in the United States, prevent illegal immigrants from acquiring drivers' licenses, and require schools and hospitals to check the legal status of students and patients before offering services.

Specific portions of the measures – including a ban on citizenship and access to schools for children of illegal immigrants - appear to expressly conflict with previous Supreme Court rulings and were drafted in hopes the high court would reconsider its decades-old holdings in that area of law. The Court categorically ruled more than a hundred years ago that birth within the United States triggered citizenship even if the parents were in the country illegally. Thirty years ago, the Court also struck down a Texas law that sought to deny public education to children of illegal immigrants.

Some of the most controversial measures were drafted by state Senate President Russell Pearce, a former sheriff who has long aimed to crack down on illegal immigration in his state and is mulling a congressional bid.

"Arizona supports these laws. They expect us to stand up and do what's right," Pearce said after the bills' defeat. "It's about time we recognize who we work for."

The future of the measures remain unclear, but it's possible similar proposals could be presented to voters as referendums in the next election. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a noted illegal immigration opponent herself, stopped short of expressing full fledged support for the measures while they were being considered.

Arizona become ground-zero for illegal immigration laws last year after Brewer signed a bill that requires police in the state to determine whether a person is in the country legally. Critics maintained the law fosters racial profiling but supporters argued it was the most effective way to crack down on the difficult issue that has plagued Arizona more than most any other state. The most controversial portions of that bill are currently being challenged in court.


Filed under: Arizona • Immigration
soundoff (97 Responses)
  1. David

    Very sad. People have to realize, this is the same as waving a white flag, and surrendering our country to illegal immigrants. As long as illegal immigrants can get all the goodies, they will continue to come here. I have no problem helping people, but when they start taking away from citizens in taxes and services, now that is to much. People who think that illegal immigrants give more than they take, need to take a better look around, just take a look at NAFTA and its promises, what a complete failure...

    March 18, 2011 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  2. Joy

    How pathetic. Big business wins again. Hard working middle class gets screwed.

    March 18, 2011 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  3. Carl

    It's good to see common sense prevail... But, I have to wonder how long it will...

    March 18, 2011 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  4. Katy Hill

    Russell Pearce is an arrogant, self centered politician with a big mouth and a bullying attitude trying to make a name for himself at Arizona's expense. As proven by this vote he does not represent the majority of Arizonans ,he represents his wealthy, white, anti hispanic friends. He and his cronies like that nitwit birther woman, Burges, have made Arizona a laughing stock. They are trying to ram through bills and enforce their will without allowing WE THE PEOPLE a vote. Obviously the majority of the Legislature got the message from their constituents. Pearce is trying to become the first US dictator.

    March 18, 2011 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  5. GI Joe

    That Governor has already stopped funding for organ transplants. (Death panel of ONE). Which constitutional amendment will the bleach blond idiot go after to kill next? Freedom of speech? (Which she sucks at - hyperventilates every time she is in a bind).

    March 18, 2011 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  6. James

    It's too late now. Repubulicans were asleep at the wheel for 20+ years during the influx. You reap what you sow.

    March 18, 2011 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  7. Steven Bannister

    Another terrible setback for the United States. At a time when Americans are out of work and struggling to make ends meet, we are importing more and more poor people, many of whom are dependent on social services. How is this beneficial? How is it humane? How is it "progressive"? Answer: It's not.

    March 18, 2011 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  8. Galactus999

    When will the Federal Government start doing its job and deporting all illegal immigrants? Ask your President. Ask your Senator.
    Ask your Congressman. I did with no results.

    March 18, 2011 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  9. Joseph

    The measures were extreme and as such should have been voted down.. but that's not to say that we don't need reform. Other countries are not nearly as lenient with their immigration policies and the bleeding hearts need to cut the whining.

    March 18, 2011 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  10. Renny

    I don't know what all the fuss is about. Which part of the word "illegal" is not understood? We don't need new laws, we need the current laws enforced. Round up all illegal alien invaders and send them back to their respective countries, where ever they came from. Think of all the new jobs that will be created in law enforcement to go door to door to round them up, process them and send them home. Illegal alien invaders have no rights in this country, period. Human or otherwise. Really, illegal alien invaders should be shot on sight, but to appease the liberals, we should enforce the law and send them home.

    March 18, 2011 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  11. Ben Purser

    Immigration is exclusive domain of the federal government, if the Arizona Senate did not voted the bill down the U S Supreme Court would have struck it down.....get a grip Arizona this is a constitutional government..

    March 18, 2011 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  12. Brian Hartman

    Look, I don't want illegal immigrants coming here any more than anyone else does, but people seriously need to get a grip. Being born here makes you a citizen. The Constitution is very clear on that. Would you prefer that people born here *weren't* citizens? What would that even look like? People need to take 5 seconds to *think* before they propose this kind of nonsense.

    March 18, 2011 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  13. JDalco

    This is a sad day. We need this kind of law to protect this country. they can cry about it but it will have to be passed at some point or we may as well give up on our country. We need to do all we can to stop ILLEGAL immigration. Just like the rest of the world does. . .

    March 18, 2011 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  14. Padraig

    I am for immigration into this country. Through diversity and hardwork we were once the greatest nation in the world. Always willling to provide assistance to others through their times of trouble, wars, and natural disasters. We still do some of these rather well.

    I can understand this bill. I understand that a large percentage of the people accessing our borders illegally are attempting to better themselves economically but I am against them coming into my country by illegal means. If you want to come into this nation then do it legally.

    My solution that would stop much of the crime, drug trafficking, kidnapping and other illegal things would be to post our military on the border. This is a war. Both Presidents are foolish and naive to believe it is anything else but that. To get the troops I would remove military operations from Afghanistan and Iraq. We don't belong there, never did. By placing militrary forces on our border with Mexico sends a clear message that we will not tolerate our nation allowng illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and our citizens being murdered by vermin.

    Again, I am not against immigration as long as it is legal. I am not here to use my taxpayer dollars on people who break the law. Escort them out.

    March 18, 2011 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  15. hzm

    "Divisive immigration law defeated" – this is the title for this article on CNN.com. Calling something that the reporter does not like "divisive" is not professional news reporting. Shame on CNN.

    March 18, 2011 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  16. jules sand-perkins

    Deport illegal immigrants and their minor children (born here) with them. The minor child is not able to support his parents, and he should not be their means of support. Certainly, United States welfare (for the child citizen) should not support his illegal parents. Surely the illegal immigrants who are so dedicated to reproducing themselves are not receiving welfare–are they?

    March 18, 2011 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  17. Katie

    What does Arizona think is best for its state? Do they seriously think denying these children – some of whom are approaching adulthood and many of whom have never been in trouble, and are productive members of society – basic things like education and health care or even drivers licenses won't come back to bite them big time? Do they want more violence, more poverty, and more associated expenses? I'm embarrassed to think Americans are acting so immorally and inhumanely.

    March 18, 2011 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  18. hzm

    Not very informative. The article says the bills were defeated. But by how much? 99 to 1? 51 to 49? Why were they defeated? "The future of the measures remain unclear" – why? This article brought up quite a lot of unanswered questions.

    March 18, 2011 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  19. JMR

    These extreme measures are not "protection" anymore; it is the paranoia of the state government of Arizona that see all immigrants as enemies of the state. I'm glad this bill was defeated.

    March 18, 2011 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  20. Peter Guerreero

    What happen to are constitutional rights.

    March 18, 2011 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  21. Dave

    The tide is chaging. Republicanism must be wiped off the face of the map.

    March 18, 2011 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  22. Chris

    Humanity wins! This is a great victory for humankind! We all deserve equal rights, no matter who we are or where we come from.

    March 18, 2011 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
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