The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

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The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Americans for Constitutional Citizenship Denounces Anti-Citizenship Resolution

January 28, 2011 - Posted by Tyler Lewis

Americans for Constitutional Citizenship (ACC) is opposing a resolution introduced by Sens. David Vitter, R. La., and Rand Paul, R. Ky., which would deny citizenship to children born on U.S. soil to undocumented immigrants.

“The Vitter-Paul Resolution seeking to eviscerate the Constitution’s definition of citizenship is an insult to the basic values and foundations of our nation,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a key organizer behind ACC. “The 14th Amendment’s guarantee of citizenship to those born on U.S. soil is a cornerstone of our identity as Americans, one that has served our nation well for more than 140 years.”

The resolution would radically redefine constitutional citizenship by limiting birth citizenship to only three categories of people: those with a parent who is a U.S. citizen, a lawful permanent resident residing in the U.S. or in active-duty service in the U.S. Armed Forces.

The American Citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment states explicitly 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 14th Amendment also forbids any state from abridging the “privileges or immunities of citizens” and from denying to any person the “equal protection of the laws.”

The 14th Amendment was ratified in the aftermath of the Civil War and in direct response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in DredScottv. Sanford, which sought to deny full citizenship to African Americans. Congress intended the amendment to resolve not only the status of African Americans and their descendants, but also to apply to members of all racial groups and immigrants.

“The Vitter-Paul Resolution would take a sledgehammer to this foundational principle, creating a caste system of second-class citizens that the authors of the 14th Amendment, in their wisdom, specifically rejected,” Henderson said. “Likewise, the Vitter-Paul Resolution should be rejected as foolishly unwise and divisive.”

Constitutional citizenship enshrined in the 14th Amendment was intended to put citizenship above the preferences and prejudices of any politician or era, and to ensure that all those born on U.S. soil are treated equally with rights of citizenship that no government may abridge.

The Vitter-Paul resolution comes as Arizona becomes the first state to introduce unconstitutional legislation to create a second-class of citizenship for Arizona-born children of undocumented immigrants.

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