Conservative Demand Immigration Reform
Conservative activists said Tuesday that they’re ready to launch a “Strength Movement” to demand immigration reform for undocumented Hispanics as a way to combat certain “reprehensible” measures against that minority. At a press conference, the activists chiefly criticized a bill being promoted by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) to deny citizenship to children born in the United States of undocumented parents. King presented a bill Wednesday that would restrict automatic citizenship exclusively to children born in the U.S. of parents who are native-born or naturalized citizens, legal residents or members of the Armed Forces on active duty. On Friday King sent out a letter to garner more support for his bill, considering that the automatic citizenship established in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution has encouraged illegal immigration and global “birth tourism.” King and other critics of immigration claim foreign women come to the United States for the purpose of giving birth to “anchor babies” in hopes of parlaying the children’s U.S. citizenship into legal residence for the rest of the family. But activists promised to promote a movement like the campaign for civil rights in the 1960s to defend the rights and values of Hispanic immigrants. King’s proposal “is morally reprehensible,” does nothing to resolve the U.S. immigration crisis and serves only to distance Republicans even more from the Latino community, the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said. “The future of Republicans, of the conservative movement, is in the hands of the Hispanic community,” Rodriguez said. He added that his group supports immigration reform that, without offering amnesty, protects U.S. borders and promotes fair and just integration into the United States in a way that “respects the rule of law.” With regard to the Strength Movement, Rodriguez said that the goals of this grassroots mobilization are to activate above all the community of the faithful to defend Hispanic values, promote immigration reform, and fight the educational disparities so unfair to Latinos. For his part, Galen Carey, director of government affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, said that King’s measure, instead of fixing the current immigration system, “simply adds fuel to the fire of the immigration dispute and divides our country even more.” Carey expressed confidence that most Republican leaders will roundly reject this proposal. Juan Hernandez, a co-founder of Conservatives for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, said that his organization will continue pressuring Republicans to find a formula “for correcting the illegal immigration problem” in the United States. Conservatives organized the conference call with the press two days after a group of state legislators promoted a controversial bill to combat the immigrant “invasion” by eliminating automatic citizenship for the children of undocumented aliens. The goal of the bill is to unleash a wave of lawsuits that will eventually lead to a verdict in its favor. The 14th Amendment, adopted in 1868, reversed the Supreme Court’s 1857 decision in the Dred Scott case, which ruled that descendants of Africans could never become United States citizens. The amendment rules 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.” Measures like the one proposed by King and state legislators do not have a very promising future: the Supreme Court has upheld the 14th Amendment on several occasions, most recently in 1985, when it ruled that a child born here of an undocumented alien is a citizen of this country.