Arizona Senate defeats controversial birthright measures
March 18th, 2011
09:51 AM ET
3 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. sumday

    "It's about time we recognize who we work for."- maybe it's time you recognize who works for you as well (hint the illegals- they build our roads and grow our food.)

    March 18, 2011 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  2. Jake

    Interesting how measures are described as divisive only if proposed by conservatives and if liberals don't like it. Any measure proposed by liberals which conservatives find objectionable is never described as "divisive". e.g. ObamaCare, which 62% of the electorate opposes, is not described as "divisive" because it is a liberal dream. Securing the nation's boarder, which is supported by 75% of the electorate, is described as "divisive" because it is a liberal nightmare.

    March 18, 2011 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  3. Bernard

    Say what you want, but its a clear violation of the federal constitution at a glance. You are born in this country? You are a citizen. That's the law. No state nor can the fed change this unless a constitutional amendment is put in place that nulls that passage.

    Prohibiting education does literally nothing to discourage immigration. It targets children who have done nothing wrong. You must either crackdown on illegal immigration in a way sure to waste more tax money than 12 million illegals on "welfare" (which is a lie for the most part) could ever cost us. Or you must open the way for both amnesty and border security. The former will bankrupt us and will make us looks evil in the eyes of the developed world. The latter will be beneficial to us in the long run albeit we'll have to swallow our pride of people "getting in this country for free" despite the irony that nearly everyone who believes that was born here anyway.

    March 18, 2011 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  4. Enough is Enough

    Illegals cost U.S. taxpayers 113 billion a year. Look what the Mexicans have done for Mexico its a a toilet. It is unfortunate the bill didn't pass, it seems Arizona is the only place in the country that understands what needs to be done about illegals. Any country that provides a social welfare system and turns a blind eye to illegal immigration will eventually self destruct.

    March 18, 2011 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  5. Jim O

    Congratulations to Arizona for trying to enforce laws that the federal governmnet won't. The rest of the world requires me to carry citizenship docuemntation (my passport) when I visit. I turn it over readily when asked because I am proud to be an American. Why is it so burdensome for others in this country to prove that they are American too? I turn over my driver's license when asked for it too. Maybe we should only stop people wearing orange jumpsuits or Hamburglar striped outfits so we don't offend the MILLIONS OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS THAT HAVE BEEN DRAINING OUR TAX DOLLARS DRY FOR THE LAST FEW HUNDRED YEARS!!!! Wake up President Obama, they are breaking the law! Just because they say they belong here doesn't mean it's true. Maybe we should sneak into the White House and avoid capture for a while, then – by your standards, we could be considered President of the United States!

    March 18, 2011 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  6. Darth Vadik, CA

    Did Arizona do something good finally????
    I've been staying away from Arizona for over a year now, as my own personal boycott, but I'll take a look at this more closely and maybe end my boycott...

    Not that this stupid law would have passed, you can't take a citizenship away form a baby born on US soil, NO MATTER WHAT THE PARENTS DID...

    ...WE STOPPED PUNISHING KIDS FOR WHAT THEIR PARENTS DID OVER 400 YEARS AGO...

    March 18, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  7. sean

    1. AZ obvs must now support the laws cause they ddn't even make it through the law making process

    2. Even Scalia would probably rebuke the legislation for this because it says clearly in the fourteenth amendment that those born in the US are citizens, you really can't get around that unless you change the amendment

    3. Refusing medical care till you figure out if someone is a citizen or not sounds like lawsuits waiting to happen if someone dies in the ER cause people weren't sure if their papers were in order, and thats just one example

    this sherrif really doesn't seem to have a grasp of foresight, next he should actually think about the practicality of this going into effect

    March 18, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  8. Sean

    Birthright debate...... how stupid it is.... I mean if they really want to impose this, basically all Americans are illegal and are not citizens. Of course, we do have to control our borders and I think the problem is really huge, but hey, birthright amendment is outright racist!

    March 18, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  9. Dean

    Let them all in. The taxpayers of the U.S. can support everyone in the world, citizen or not.

    March 18, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  10. Al-NY,NY

    Big talk in order to get the sheep to elect them is now replaced by rational thought knowing they'd lose some of these proposals.

    March 18, 2011 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  11. Computer Geek

    And one of the real reasons not mentioned in the article? Quite a few businesses and CEOs in the Phoenix area signed a petition expressing their desire NOT to have these bills passed. The people's will has nothing to do with what gets passed in any legislative body anymore. ONLY what business wants. I am glad in this case that it did, but the bigger problem still remains – we the people are no longer in control of our government – business is.

    March 18, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  12. Midwestmatt

    Once Arizona businesses stop hiring dirt cheap, highly exploitable, illegal immigrants to work in their companies, their houses and their yards, then the flow across the border will slow.

    Arizona, along with the rest of the nation's businesses that willingly hire illegals, are the sole reason we have an immigration problem to begin with.

    March 18, 2011 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  13. Anonymous

    This country is for all! No one owns it!

    March 18, 2011 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  14. c

    What is wrong with Arizona – proposing all these extreme laws and passind a lot of them – I'm glad I don't live there! I won't even visit there.

    March 18, 2011 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  15. Grondahl

    If if a person was here illegally, this law would have had a hospital turn them away? I guess the Hippocratic Oath needed some updating.

    March 18, 2011 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  16. S1N

    I don't know why'd they even bother trying to remove the birthright citizenship. For one, determining citizenship is not within a State's authority. Second, they'd need to change the Constitution first, as birthright citizenship is already addressed.

    March 18, 2011 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  17. Rick in AZ

    Russell Pearce is the Organ Grinder. Jan Brewer is his Monkey.

    March 18, 2011 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  18. Fred Evil

    Sorry to see this....I have a HUGE problem with granting citizenship to the children of illegals. This sends exactly the wrong message. So long as you can have your kid IN America, you're set!!

    March 18, 2011 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  19. DaineAlabama

    Why is the US so afraid to say NO to these people who are breaking the law. If the US keeps giving the illegals rights then why would they leave. They have to crack down and I wished they had passed this bill not only for Arizona but the the United States.

    March 18, 2011 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  20. Brian Haueter

    If people are here illegally, do we REALLY want to give them drivers licenses? What are the chances these people purchase car insurance? I thought driving was a privilege, not a right? What am I missing here?

    March 18, 2011 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  21. Buffaloeful

    How many are enough? What percentage of your income are you willing to pay to support illegal immigrants? 30, 40, 50, 60, 70%? How is citizenship status racist?

    March 18, 2011 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  22. AngelicaS

    They are not "immigration bills" - they are bills to stop ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION. No one from CNN apprears to be able to grasp the substantial difference in these terms. Americans (including this Democrat) support LEGAL IMMIGRATION. Americans (including this Democrat) oppose ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION. There is a vast difference in those two concepts. A government which refuses to enforce its own laws is INTOLERABLE!

    March 18, 2011 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  23. Rick McDaniel

    Too bad. That change in our law is absolutely needed. Of course, even if it passes, Washington would stop it, or refuse to enforce it. Washington WANTS the US to become Mexico Norte!

    March 18, 2011 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  24. Derrick

    These anti-human measures are just getting sickening. The GOP is one big piece of anti American CRAP!!!

    March 18, 2011 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  25. Real American

    You better start learning your spanish..lol

    March 18, 2011 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
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