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April 29, 2015
LATINO LEADERS: UNDERMINING BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP WOULD BE DISASTROUS
Denying birthright citizenship would abandon constitutional principles of equality and liberty, reinstate widespread discrimination
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), a coalition of 39 of the nation's preeminent Latino organizations, issued the following statement in advance of Wednesday's hearing in the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives which will misguidedly question the role of "birthright citizenship" in our constitutional democracy. NHLA has consistently opposed proposals to abandon our country's most sacred values and constitutional principles by altering how citizenship is granted to those born in the United States.
Efforts seeking to undermine birthright citizenship represent an unprecedented and unacceptable attack on the rights of all Americans by limiting citizenship by birth to only certain individuals, such as those who are children of U.S. citizens or nationals, lawful permanent residents, or immigrants in active-duty military service. Often such proposals would deny citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants, as well as lawfully present individuals, such as certain survivors of domestic violence, or individuals with student or employment visas.
"Birthright citizenship proposals seek to undermine well-established precedent by altering the legal interpretation and application of the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. These proposals would deny citizenship to an entire class of infants born in the United States based on the immigration status of their parents.
"Such legislation would result in an underclass of Latinos that would be subject to disparate and adverse treatment based solely on their ethnicity, the national origin and race of their parents, and signal a return to a pre-Civil War constitutional era.
"The introduction of H.R. 140, the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2015 by Rep. Steven King (R-IA), and proposals like it, represent only the latest efforts to undermine well-settled constitutional and civil rights values in an attempt to eliminate and curtail the rights of Latinos. These proposals must be vigorously rejected.
"Efforts to implement a birthright citizenship policy represent a threat to the civil rights of Latinas and Latinos in the U.S. and the ability of the Latino community to fully participate in this country's civil society. Rather than waste valuable time considering such divisive policy proposals, we urge Congress to consider bipartisan approaches to reforming our broken immigration system that will allow the 11 million undocumented immigrants in our nation, including DREAMers and agricultural workers, to earn legal status and then citizenship."
Established in 1991, the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) brings together Hispanic leaders to establish policy priorities that address, and raise public awareness of, the major issues affecting the Latino community and the nation as a whole. In 2013, NHLA launched the Latinos United for Immigration Reform campaign. For more information, please visit www.nationalhispanicleadership.org and follow @NHLAgenda.
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