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. gt

    just because you break the law .. then have a child here... that should not be the golden ticket....the problem is Mexico ia a pathedic country who cant take care of there own...

    March 18, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  2. Bessy

    Good !!! Get rid of Brewer and do things the right way. Send the sheriff back to taking care of criminals.

    March 18, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  3. Bob in PA

    Canada cutoff anchor babies a long time ago. Lets just revise the law a little. Anyone who is born in the US while their mother is leagally present in our country can be granted citizenship.

    March 18, 2011 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  4. Marie MD

    Wow! Just wow! Guess pearce is. . . . ?????

    March 18, 2011 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Well done Arizona!!!
    A child cannot choose his parents nor his place of birth,how then can you strip someone BORN IN THE USA of their citizenship?
    Try as some of you might with our own President notwithstanding.

    March 18, 2011 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  6. Greg in Arkansas

    Why doesn't CNN investigate the connection between the private companies that get millions of taxpayer dollars from immigration enforcement actions (detention & deportation) and their political contributions to those elected officials that are stiring up hatred in AZ?
    Seems like a conflict of interest.

    March 18, 2011 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  7. Mark Jeffery Koch

    Why is it racist to deny drivers Licenses and medical benefits to people who are here illegally? What is so wrong about asking people to do what the majority of those from over one hundred countries have done – come to our country legally and apply for citizenship the way tens of millions of people have? Why should those who break our laws be rewarded? Why bother to have any immigration laws at all then? Why not open all our borders and give anyone who comes here social security, health benefits, etc. without ever asking them to obey any of our laws? If people support this legislation then we might as well pull all our law enforcement from our borders and let everyone come here whenever they want and reap the benefits of America without having any responsibility whatsoever to America. This is not racist – every other country in the world controls their borders except one – America.

    March 18, 2011 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  8. lefty avenger

    The People of Arizona seem to be big fans of 1933 Nazi Germany.

    March 18, 2011 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  9. Fed Up

    That's it, let's keep feeding, educating, and looking the other way while the illegals take over the US. They're not going to be happy until the US looks and smells like Mexico, one giant sewer.

    March 18, 2011 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  10. Anonymous

    I wonder why it was defeated when Arizona public supported it? Oh yea - with drivers licenses, illegals can also get voting cards. Wow. This is so ridiculous – non-citizens using OUR tax dollars for OUR public services?
    It is only logical that US citizens, and US citizens only, should be eligible for US federal, state, and local government services. And we wonder why our country has no money?
    This has to STOP.

    March 18, 2011 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  11. Laura

    I wonder why it was defeated when Arizona public supported it? Oh yea - with drivers licenses, illegals can also get voting cards. Wow. This is so ridiculous – non-citizens using OUR tax dollars for OUR public services?
    It is only logical that US citizens, and US citizens only, should be eligible for US federal, state, and local government services. And we wonder why our country has no money?
    This has to STOP.

    March 18, 2011 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  12. NewMalthus

    There is nothing divicive about defending the border and enforcing emigration laws. Only the left wing and their media friends, like CNN, in a bid to buy votes and influence, feel free to advocate ignoring the law.

    March 18, 2011 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  13. Charles

    oh well. I dont mind paying for all these people with my taxes. If you need to take more please help yourself. I know you need the votes and really want them to stay. I say raise our taxes another 10%. We dont mind paying.

    March 18, 2011 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  14. Kasper

    Good job decking yourselves out in USA Flags and all that. Cool you're Americans. Now speak our language (which is officially, English btw). We're not Quebec. We're not bilingual. One official language. Not "todos somos iguales".

    March 18, 2011 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  15. Chumlee

    The children born in the US to illegals do according to law have rights regarding access to education, health care, etc.

    The illegal parents of these children, however, should be deported – they have no US rights!

    March 18, 2011 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  16. Marc

    I doubt "Arizona wants these laws" Sherrif. If they did, you can bet the politicans who shift with the political winds would have voted for them, not against them. A boisterous and virulent minority may want them and may have convinced themselves that everyone else wants them but the reality is that most of us want some sanity in this discussion. Arbitrarily changing the U.S. Constitution is not sane in most Americans books.

    March 18, 2011 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  17. driranek

    The denial of citizenship rights to children of illegal immigrants born in the United States would have been an inconceivably bad legal precedent. Not even the worst of the religious fanatics sink so low that they punish the children for the sins of their parent.

    March 18, 2011 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  18. Kevin

    Wow, it seems that ever since we elected the first black President, it seems that some white Americans have gone off the deep end. I'd respect you more if you would just come out and say I'm aginst President Obama because he is black. If it's how you really feel then come out and say it, don't be ashamed or afraid.

    March 18, 2011 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  19. sickofit

    Giving it all away... Guess there's no reason for borders and immigration law anymore. Now, if only the rest of the countries around the world would be so generous (loose) with their sovereignty. Oh, they actually protect their countries from invasion.

    March 18, 2011 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  20. MAC

    Illegal Immigrants, law breakers are still not welcome in America. Legal immigration si the right way to come here! The President and other government agencies do not uphold the lwa as the oath and Constitution require him to.

    March 18, 2011 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  21. Duane - St.Pete FL

    anchor babies are costing the states way to much money. This law should have passed....

    March 18, 2011 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  22. ConservaFascists/F.U.B.A.R.

    I thought republicans loved and adored the U.S. Constitution. Apparently not since they are clearly violating the 14th Amendment.

    March 18, 2011 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  23. Marcus

    Immigration is a Federal issue and, unlike what some people have been saying, more money and resources have been used by the Federal govt. in order to fight the illegal immigration. If ANYONE has a proof that the Federal authorities are tampering the records about the illegal immigration issue please come forward and show.
    ATTENTION: O'Keefe-like 'evidences' are inadmissible in court since they are phony.

    March 18, 2011 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  24. Butch

    A valiant effort at the only feasible solution (attrition through enforcement) to the scourge of illegal immigration. We'll see these effective measures again and I'm don't doubt that the voter's will of protecting honest Americans can be achieved.

    March 18, 2011 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  25. davec.0121

    At last the people in Arizona appear to be realizing that grand-standing, attention-seeking politicians have been exploiting these issues for their own selfish purposes. The defeated measures are obviously unconstitutional, but were proposed anyway in hopes of setting up a protracted and ultimately probably fruitless court challenge. The state of Arizona would have wasted millions of dollars, and caused the U.S. government and others to waste millions of dollars, in the needless court fights, all for the sake, really, of giving these demagogues the opportunity to continue to bluster and posture.

    March 18, 2011 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
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