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DNC Memo: GOP & Birthright Citizenship

To:                        Interested Parties
From:                   Pablo Manriquez, DNC Hispanic Media Director
Date:                    19 August 2015
Subject:               GOP & Birthright Citizenship

BACKGROUND: This year Democrats commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act by fighting for efforts to guarantee the rights of all American citizens.  Not lost in the celebration were the recent, monumental civil rights victories hard-fought and earned by LGBT Americans.  In the aftermath of “love wins”, the GOP is dead set on making sure that immigrants do not.  As Americans – citizens and undocumented – continue to fight for the rights guaranteed to all of us, the GOP candidates have taken an ugly and dark turn in the opposite direction.

This summer Republican candidates for president have reignited a stale, tired attack on the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  The 14th Amendment states unequivocally that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States…are citizens of the United States.”  Instead of focusing their efforts on comprehensive immigration reform, Republican candidates have decided to attack the citizenship of American children born to immigrant families.  Attacking and criminalizing children – let alone citizen children born to immigrant parents – is the lowest form of political buffoonery…even for the GOP. 

THAT WAS THEN:  We’ve been through the GOP’s birthright citizenship eruptions before.  As far back as 1993, then-Congressman John Kasich co-sponsored a bill to end birthright citizenship.  By 2010, FOX News Contributor-turned-candidate for Governor Kasich had continued his crusade against citizen children.  That year Lindsey Graham joined Kasich when he responded to Democrats’ push for comprehensive immigration reform by accusing that immigrant mothers “drop and leave” their children in the U.S.

The following year, in 2011, Senator Rand Paul introduced a resolution to amend the constitution and end birthright citizenship.  By 2013, one of the vilest terms in Latino politics was born when Republican Congressman Steve King introduced a bill to end “anchor babies” – the disgusting term some Republicans use to describe U.S. citizen children born to immigrant parents.

THIS IS NOW:  This summer the GOP has again shifted their attack from immigrants, to immigrant families, to the U.S. citizen children of immigrant parents.  Just last week Chris Christie, not once but twice, called for the reexamination of the 14th Amendment, or “birthright citizenship”.  Scott Walker told a reporter he would flat out end birthright citizenship as president. On the campaign trail, Ted Cruz has refused to say whether he supported Steve King’s proposal to eliminate birthright citizenship.  Here’s a rundown of what some of the rest of the GOP field has said about birthright citizenship.


  • Lindsey Graham: “We should change our Constitution and say if you come here illegally and you have a child, that child’s automatically not a citizen.” (Fox News)
  • Bobby Jindal“We need to end birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants.” (Twitter)
  • Rand Paul:  I’ve always agreed with Milton Freidman who says you can’t have open borders in a welfare state. You can’t become a magnet for the world and let everybody come in here, have children, and then they become citizens. So I still do agree with that.” (WNDTV)
  • Rick Santorum:  Only children born on American soil where at least one parent is a citizen or resident aliens is automatically a U.S. citizen.” (Breitbart)
  • Ben Carson“The 14th Amendment has been brought up recently, about ‘anchor babies’, and it doesn’t make any sense to me that people can come over here and have a baby and the baby becomes an American citizen … That doesn’t make any sense at all.” (YouTube)

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