Monday, June 17, 2024

Arizona’s Anti-14th Amendment Bill Stalled

On Monday, the Arizona attempts to pass birthright bills hit a road block when one of the key sponsors of the anti-14th Amendment proposals stalled the measures to avoid possibly losing committee vote. 

Republican Sen. Ron Gould of Lake Havasu, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, pulled the bill after over two hours of testimony that prompted several questions and plainly determined that the bill was lacking the necessary support it needed to pass. .

Gould could bring the bills back to committee at a later time or pass the bill to another committee that would be more amenable.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Phoenix, an opponent of the proposed bills, stated, “It’s going to come back, nothing’s dead until sine die (legislative adjournment).”

The committee hearing was crowded with both supporters and opponents; over a dozen people, including children, spoke out against the bill. 

The matching versions of the House bills have yet to be assigned to a committee for a hearing.

One proposal, House Bill 2561 and Senate Bill 1309 respectively, would classify children as citizens of Arizona and the U.S. if at least one of their parents was either a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent U.S. resident.

The other, House Bill 2562 and Senate Bill 1308, would seek approval from Congress for the state to issue separate birth certificates for children who meet the new classification of a citizen and those who do not.

The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states 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.”

Professor John Eastman from the Chapman University School of Law said court rulings have not clearly determined what the drafters of the 14th Amendment meant when they applied it to individuals “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States. He claims these bills were written to prompt the Supreme Court to address this issue directly.

“Suppose a tourist from Great Britain was here visiting on a temporary tourist visa. He is subject to our jurisdiction in that he has to follow our laws while here, but he is not subject to the jurisdiction in broader sense that he could be drafted into our army or that he is allowed to vote while here,” Eastman said. “There are two different meanings of subject to jurisdiction. This bill is simply trying to define what ‘subject to the jurisdiction’ means.”

However, Sen. Sinema, who is also an attorney, said the wording of the current proposals would also deny citizenship to children born overseas to parents serving in the U.S. military and children whose parents hold dual citizenship.

Several advocacy groups and business leaders, including the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, have spoken out against the bills.

Michelle Bolton of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce said “Every time Arizona goes it alone, there are unintended consequences.”

Executive director of the Border Action Network, Jennifer Allen, says the bills would marginalize part of the community.

“We are better than a debate about how to create what would become a permanent underclass in the state of Arizona, better than creating a nation of children that have no citizenship,” she said. “Frustration with the federal government’s failure to fix the nation’s immigration system should not be used to undermine the Constitution, nor should it be used to further shame our state and turn it into a state known to be hostile and hateful.”