State Rep. William Snyder, R-Stuart, one of the state’s chief proponents of Arizona-style immigration law, has ties to an organization that is pursuing the repeal of the 14th Amendment in order to restrict the ability of immigrant children to obtain U.S. citizenship.
State Legislators for Legal Immigration announced last week legislation to reform the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”
The State Legislators website lists Snyder as someone “participating” in the group, which describes itself as a “nation-wide coalition” whose intent is “to provide a network of state legislators who are committed to working together in demanding full cooperation among our federal, state and local governments in eliminating all economic attractions and incentives (including, but not limited to: public benefits, welfare, education, and employment opportunities) for illegal aliens, as well as securing our borders against unlawful invasion.”
From the State Legislators press release announcing its anti-14th Amendment campaign:
Due to the historic and Constitutional ramifications that have created the anchor baby status, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) has provided expert legal research and analysis to ensure that the plain English, straightforward legislative solution meets any and all Constitutional challenges brought against it once enacted by state Legislatures across the nation. [Read the full document below.]
“IRLI supported this historic SLLI initiative because we saw a critical need to bring elected state leaders from across the nation together with legal specialists in the Constitutional principles of immigration law,” said IRLI Executive Director Michael Hethmon.
When asked about Snyder’s involvement with State Legislators, his press secretary said the legislator “is aware of the press conference they held Wednesday, but has not reviewed their proposal and does not intend to take a position on it. His focus remains on immigration in the State of Florida.”
Snyder wrote to The Florida Independent:
I remain focused on the issue of illegal immigration here in Florida and building a consensus among stakeholders on the best way to implement comprehensive immigration reform that Floridians will agree is in the best interest of our state and furthers our goal of reducing illegal immigration.
Michelle Waslin, an Immigration Policy Center senior policy analyst, tells the Independent that “SLLI wants to spark a legal challenge that goes all the way to the Supreme Court. They want to set up a system for citizens and another for people who can be discriminated.”
Waslin also says that amending the 14th Amendment is not a solution for illegal immigration. “Under the current system, you’re born here, you get a birth certificate,” she says. “If we didn’t have that system we would need a bureaucracy to determine citizenship.”
She points out that if automatic citizenship is eliminated, all U.S. citizens would be affected. She compares the outcome to the current situation of a U.S. serviceman in Germany, married to a German woman, who together have a baby. That couple has to hire an immigration lawyer to have to clarify if the baby is a U.S. citizen.
According to The New York Times:
[Legislators] acknowledged that the state bills were not likely to have a practical effect anytime soon, since they will quickly be challenged as unconstitutional. But the legislators — from Arizona, Georgia, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina — said they chose the first day of a new Republican-controlled House of Representatives to start an effort that they hope will end with a Supreme Court decision on birthright citizenship, and spur legislative action in Washington.
Benjamin Johnson, executive director of the American Immigration Council issued the following statement:
We acknowledge that our immigration laws are badly broken, and we recognize that state and local legislators are frustrated by Congress’s unwillingness to reform our immigration system. However, attacking constitutional citizenship is simply another distraction that moves us further away from addressing the real problems with our broken immigration system. Rather than challenging Congress to reinterpret the 14th amendment, we need to redouble the effort to reform our immigration laws.
The Washington Post reported that “within weeks, several state legislatures are expected to introduce bills that would lay the groundwork for such a reinterpretation of the 14th Amendment, which was passed in the wake of the Civil War in order to confer citizenship on freed African American slaves.”
Waslin is clear to state that the movement to change the 14th Amendment has very little chance to achieve its goal.
State Legislators for Legal Immigration’s proposed legislation: