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. Jim

    Pearce is right, it's about time they recognize that they work for corporate america, and not for the voters.

    March 18, 2011 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  2. Justice

    Victory, victory is sweet. And another defeat for the UnAmerican Racist White Republican Party who wants to bring this country back to the 1960's. Instead of preaching hate learn the History of what is now Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California and realize who are the real natives of this land. Native Americans, Spanish, Mexicans where here speaking their native tongues hundreds of years before the white man set foot in the Southwest. Its time to stop watching Hee Haw and get educated you small minded people.

    March 18, 2011 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  3. kelsey's grammar

    In a state that is about 40% Hispanic, this was a stupid move. I'd get treated in an ER because I'm white but my Chicano husband would have to provide proof of citizenship? His ancestors built Tucson as did many other Hispanic families ancestors, not white men. Russell Pearce, broaden your mind. Our kind were the immigrants in AZ, not the Hispanics. Let's see your proof of US citizenship. Cabron, there's a Spanish word for you.

    March 18, 2011 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  4. Truth

    I won't be surprise in time some states will start to break away from the US government and become independent. We will have our own Israeli–Palestinian conflict here in this country. How far are you democrats willing to take us to that level?

    March 18, 2011 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  5. DaineAlabama

    I have a better idea. The USA needs to just take over Mexico and make it part of the United States and it can be like the new frontier.

    March 18, 2011 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  6. maggie

    This was the right thing to do. If you want to defeat illegal immigration, do so; I agree that our laws should be enforced. However, once these kids are born here, it is a whole different ball game and clearly, the law is not on the side of stripping them of anything. They are individuals whose rights stem from other sources, not appendages of their parents.

    March 18, 2011 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  7. PC

    We should patrol our border like Mexico does their Southern border – shoot anyone crossing, and the illegal immigration will stop in two days.

    March 18, 2011 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  8. Aaron P

    Arizona is the modern day Mississippi! Different decade, different minority, different state, same racism!

    March 18, 2011 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  9. JOHN

    I just don't see how we can give benefits like a driver's license, social security, food stamps, etc to someone who is not here legally! Any other crimes an American commits ends in jail time, a fine or some other recourse. So, you're telling me if I speed on the freeway or shoplift that I will get bonuses? I just don't get it.

    March 18, 2011 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  10. teresa, ohio

    Illegal, got that word, ILLEGAL, immigrants are a touchy subject. If we merely use our heads and the constitution, they have exactly ZERO RIGHTS. They are criminals by way of merely being in this country ILLEGALLY. If we use our heads and hearts, we could be a little kinder, yes?

    For me, I mean no ill toward the illegals as individuals: you are criminals by way of being in this country without getting the permission of the proper channels. Yes, I know your stories and hardships. I feel for you. But it has to stop. Go through the proper channels, please. Until then, illegals are criminals. The very fact ILLEGALS are allowed to PROTEST legally in this country Boggles this old lady's dwindling mind.

    People of Arizone, Senate and all lawmakers there, Thank You for what you're trying to do to fix a big wrong in your state and this country. You ARE APPRECIATED.

    March 18, 2011 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  11. daniel

    Its about time they did something good, The government could raise about 9 billion if they were to legalize the 11 or so million undocumented immigrants in the Country. So what are they waiting for?

    March 18, 2011 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  12. Evelyn

    Good to hear these bills went down. These types of measures are not the answer. The federal government needs to take a stand on this and pass a comprehensive immigration bill that will address all aspects, or at least attempt to, of this very complicated issues.

    We need to find a compromise because at this point we all know this country depends on immigrant labor in the agricultural sector and also heavily relies on it in the service sector BUT we also want to secure our border.

    March 18, 2011 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  13. Tony

    Thank God this racist law failed. Yes it is racist. You can use any adjectives you want but it is still racism.
    They do not take jobs from American unless the jobs Americans are aiming for are landscaping, custodial and farm work.
    REF: The law in Texas that failed that would exempt white folks from being punished.

    March 18, 2011 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  14. Mike in MO

    Yeah, too bad that pesky old Constitution would have gotten in the way. A rare moment of lucidity for Arizona lawmakers.

    March 18, 2011 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  15. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Arizona takes its first step in rejoining the United States. Pearce has been drafting fascist bills that eliminate constitutional rights, so it is good to see him get his paw slapped once in a while.

    March 18, 2011 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  16. Bob

    We just can no longer afford illegals. We cannot even afford US citizens right now. Our education system is crumbling, and the cutting of education funds is a contributing factor. Our healthcare system is crumbling and so expensive that even US citizens do not get the medical care they need. Illegal hispanics are jgnoring our laws, and it is difficult to understand why law abiding US citizens support them. Political brainwashing is causing US citizens to think illogically. Somehow, many US citizens think that congress is working for them. Congress is working to get rich, period.

    March 18, 2011 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  17. realitybites

    Looks like the kind of setback my newly republican controlled congress in NC faced when they supported the new right wing school board essentially re-segregating our kids. Lets face it this is not 1898 although, even as a liberal I do question the merrits of being born into the US citizen status. That worked well in 1898 when the population could still be sustained and we needed more manpower to fuel the wallets of robber barons. Having to foot the bill to birth, educate, and feed a large # of children born to illegal aliens in this country really doesn't sit right w/ me. It's bad enough we have to pay for their parents too. That's not biggoted, it's common sense especially during extremely hard times when we just can't afford it. Leading industrialized countries in Europe and Asia don't have a problem w/ their policies denying citizenship to children born there to folks who are not citizens. OTW we would have a lot of children calling themselves English, German, Irish, Japanese, French, etc.

    March 18, 2011 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  18. vet in texas

    So now you need the brown vote........too late. The Tea Party has been exposed for what it really is, and the CCA is laughing at your naivete all the way to the bank. For those who really wanted to be a part of it based on what the original formers of that group spouted.......thank ALEC (although you already have with your political choices and tax payer money). Looks like boycotts work for proper causes. I agree with your passion to do something about the immagration issue in your state, but the fact that you didn't require ALL citizens to carry proper identification, just proves that the boycotts were necessary. Fix that law and you'll get the support you deserve, let is stand as is and your state will continue to go down the hole and all the anglo citizens will be cutting grass, builiding houses, washing dishes, cleaning toilets, watching kids, cooking meals, etc. etc. this law had nothing to do with protecting your borders, just padding the pockets of the CCA and ALEC. Arizona's new state flag need to be a blow-pop. (tea partiers, look up ALEC, then use what you learned at the ballot box).

    "They are what we thought they were" – Denny Green.

    March 18, 2011 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  19. Galactus999

    The Federal Government needs to start doing its job and deporting all illegal immigrants. Why have they not yet secured the border and deported all illegals? Its the law.

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

    I remember so well SB1070 and its supposed well-intended effort to stop illegal immigration. Now everything my state does just verifies that its sole intent is to pick on poor people and immigrants, illegal or legal. Not reported is Arizona considering cancelling its Medicaid, issuing bright orange debit food stamp cards, raising taxes on poor people.

    Do not be fooled by all the "Pearce" rhethoric. He is just an extremist who is behind all of these measures. He is a terrible man who one day will be exposed for what he is; a nasty white man who does not like anyone who is not white and nasty.

    Shame on the good people of Arizona for not recognizing this earlier.

    March 18, 2011 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  21. Real American

    Don't fear the Hispanic people. Most are like you hard working, patriotic and willing to sacrifice thier sons and daughters to fight for this wonderful country of ours. People like Russell Pearce benefit from speration. Open your eyes people and please see this for what it is Racism! sure there are Hispanics who are lazy, dirty, uneducated and lawless but so are some whites,blacks and every other nationality in this country. we together as a people must stand up to racism and oppression, don't let these Elitist seperate us people. There is only one race in this world and that is the human race. People like Mr. Pearce would like to have you believe it's us against them( DIVIDE AND CONQUER). My parents crossed illegally and they are not proud of that fact but they are proud to say they are American. So by definition I am an Anchor baby but I have done more for this country than most legal children. I have just finished my third tour of Enduring Freedom, twice in Iraq and once in Afghanistan, I have scarificed my time from my 3 boys, my time with my wife to fight a battle oversees. Now I come home and have to fight for the right to call my self American.....that is the definition of unpatriotic if you ask me.

    March 18, 2011 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  22. Alverant

    The Constitution is very clear. If you're born in the US, you're a citizen. It doesn't matter if your parents are here illegally or not. When will the cons get tired of attacting the Constitution? If they had their way, the only two ammendments will be the second with the phrase "a well regulated militia" removed and the first with the phrase, "only when we agree with what you're doing" tacked on the end.

    March 18, 2011 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  23. Whammybar

    I guess I would keep the birthright to citizenship with one modification. Until the child is 21 it goes where the parents go and has no citizenship rights until that point. Illegal is illegal! I cannot understand how anyone not here legally is allowed to do anything! If you do not have legal status then nothing should be available except a quick exit. My taxes go to pay for things for citizens and legal visitors, period! Roads, utilities, schools, parks, all government services and so on.
    Why is that so hard to understand and enforce? Why?

    March 18, 2011 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  24. DYBO

    Are there other countries in this world that offer automatic citizenship if born in their borders?

    March 18, 2011 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  25. Ernie

    The State Senators that voted to defeat controversial birthright measures are going to have to think twice when it comes for re-election. What has happened is any "Ill eagle immigrant who drops thier "Anchor Baby" will be entitled to all U.S. beneftis. That means the parents will get "Weffare, food stamps, Medicaid, all these programs will be paid for by the tax payers. Not only that the politicians will see that the illeagle immigrants will be able to vote, the politicians will find some way to see that they can vote. So who loses' it's not the illeagle immigrants it's the tax payers. All the politicians who voted this bill down should be consider a new line of work when election time comes around.

    March 18, 2011 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
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