August 11th, 2010
01:10 PM ET
12 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. Obama=Trickle Up Poverty

    Automatic citizenship to someone born of people in this country illegally needs to be changed. Quit rewarding the law breakers sneaking across our borders.

    August 11, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  2. Larry Karmel

    While we go about changing the 14th amendment, let's take a look at the 2nd amendment as well. Let's change it to mean EXACTLY what the framers meant – that all citizens have the right to bear muskets, long rifles, and bows and arrows.

    August 11, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  3. jpmichigan

    The 14th amendment was written 100 or so years ago, doesn't apply to what is happening now. As as I worked as a Labor and Delivery nurse, I can tell you of the MANY pregnant women who come to America just to give birth. Brought here shortly prior to the date of birth, so to have a American born child. Many cannot or won't speak English, receive benefits from the government such as mediaide and welfare, so to stay here with their child. They may or not become American citizens. My grandmother and grandfather came here from Poland became American citizens and had American children. Worked hard, paid taxes and provided legally for their children. It takes more than birthing a child in America, to make one an American

    August 11, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  4. rdepontb

    Today's Americans do not appreciate what the Constitution really means to us, to our freedoms, to our everyday lives and happiness. It seems that the recent economy, bad weather/climate issues, and wars may have soured us on "the past," as seems to be the case concerning all the negative talk about incumbents from both parties.

    It also seems that Republicans are willing to use any excuse to keep the nation off-balance. Boehner and Co have no intention of changing our Constitution-not if they intend to stay within their own Party. I wish Democrats and Independents were not so gullible as to be taken in by every little trick of distraction thrown their way. We do not need to be talking about changing the 14th Amendment, nor, as Sharron Angle hints, the First or Second. Who knows where Rand Paul sits-

    Come to our senses, people-stay on message, stay on track, or we are all headed to Third World status, which we just might well deserve.

    August 11, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  5. chris

    Aren't we all decendants of illegal immigrants? I don't remember learning in school that the Native Americans asked our ancestors us to come over after they filled out their paperwork? Yes, something needs to be done about the border and the illegal immigration. But if we alter the constitution, doesn't that mean all of us lose our citizenship? Think about it.

    August 11, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  6. RamessesII

    No surprise. Every year, more & more anchor babies & their families participate in polls and the results begin to tip in their favor.

    August 11, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  7. norma

    This poll proves the reasoning behind our founding fathers' decision to make it incredibly difficult to change the constitution. They were very smart people!

    I find it funny that those who wrap themselves up in the American flag, call every decision they don't like unconstitution and believe they are the only patriotic Americans want to change the constitution!

    August 11, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  8. Californian

    If you're here illegally your newborn is not legal either. It's pretty simple.

    August 11, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  9. Ron

    Of the people that were querried regarding this poll, how many were citizens and how many were illegal immigrants?

    A nickel to donut says alot were illegal aliens.

    August 11, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  10. william gonnello

    The USA has no more obligation to accept immigrants than any other country. Many of which one may never become a true citizen. E.g. Mexico and Japan.

    Repeal section 1 of the 14th amendment.

    August 11, 2010 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  11. Donna A. Reuter, Bremerton, WA

    Do not touch the Constitiution or any of the Amendments. How is changing the 14th Amendment is in compliance with their oath of office: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God."

    If they cannot obey the oath of office, they need to do the right thing and resign.

    August 11, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  12. ccm123

    I simply cannot believe this is being brought up as an issue. What a bunch of morons!! What is not talked about is what would replace this amendment??? Nothing! The republican'ts want to abolish it, but have no alternative to take its place. The 14th amendment was not only a solution to the slaves after the civil war, but it clearly defined citizenship for Chinese immigrants, Japanese immigrants, Irish, German, Dutch, you name it. Should we change the 2nd amendment also because guns are the primary weapon in violent crime?? These people make me sick..... They are all about preserving and defending the constitution from that damn socialist Obama yet they are willing to openly manipulate it any way they want to fit their agenda. There are some like Duncan Hunter Jr., another piece of work, who would like to deport babies and children who were born here because their parents may be illegals. Deport the most vulnerable of US citizens??? Talk about being for family and values, Barf!!!!!! If that is not the biggest example of big government and big brother getting in the way, I do not know what is?? Tea Baggers, are you seeing this? What say you?????

    August 11, 2010 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  13. Dan

    It's not about changing it, it's about interpreting it properly as it currently stands. It has been misinterpreted since it's inception, that's all.

    August 11, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
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