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Born in the USA?: The Historical and Constitutional Underpinnings of Birthright Citizenship

Thursday, March 31, 2011 - 12:00pm


On the first day of the 112th Congress, Representative Steve King (R-IA) introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives seeking to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to “clarify” which classes of U.S.-born children are citizens of the United States at birth. Representative King’s bill reflects his assertion that the 14th Amendment does not guarantee citizenship at birth for U.S.-born children of temporary or undocumented immigrants. House Judiciary Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) agrees, and has declared his intention to hold hearings on the subject. Federal legislators are not the only ones to get into the mix. On January 5th, a group of state legislators launched their own challenge to the 14th Amendment at a press conference in Washington where they announced their plans to pass state laws that would ultimately trigger a Supreme Court ruling on the issue.

On March 31, 2011, the American Constitution Society and the Center for American Progress brought together leading thinkers to discuss current challenges to birthright citizenship and provide historical perspective to the debate about what the 14th Amendment guarantees.  

CAC Team Members: