Forget the green card or American Express gold. It's the ultimate test of one's American roots: Born in the USA? You're in for life. You're an equal among citizens and your stake in this country can't be discounted because of the tone of your skin or the rise of your bread.
Some politicians are trying to change that. As anti-illegal-immigrant fervor hits a high point this spring, movements are afoot to change the constitutional mandate that those born on U.S. soil are automatically citizens. These representatives want to make an exception for children of illegal immigrants. Oklahoma state Rep. Randy Terrill told NPR the born-in-the-USA provision could "produce the absurd result that children of invading armies would be considered citizens of the U.S." He's working on a law that would deny citizenship to U.S.-born children of illegals in Oklahoma.
Likewise Texas state Rep. Leo Berman has introduced a similar bill in the Lone Star State. NPR notes that the legislation seems designed to end up in court, and it might not have much of a chance: Protecting U.S. citizens by birth is an integral part of the 14th Amendment.
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"It's a core American belief that those who are born here get integrated into our society, no matter where your parents are from," Karen Tumlin, managing attorney for the Los Angeles-based National Immigration Law Center, tells the radio network. "This would be an erosion of the core principles about who belongs in this country."