U.S. Sens. David Vitter (R-LA), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Jerry Moran (R-KS) this week introduced legislation that amends the Immigration and Nationality Act in order to limit birthright citizenship to children born in the U.S. to at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen, legal resident alien or active member of the U.S. armed forces.
"America's illegal immigration problem is clearly out of control. Recent news reports have highlighted the growing popularity of "birth tourism,' and new websites are advertising birth packages for pregnant foreign visitors who want to give birth in the United States to ensure automatic citizenship for their newborn children," said Sen. Vitter. "This practice is not mandated by federal law or the Constitution but is based on what I believe is a fundamental misunderstanding of the 14th Amendment. This policy is incompatible with both the text and the legislative history of the citizenship clause."
Vitter's bill is in addition to his previously introduced resolution to amend the 14th Amendment of the Constitution to clarify birthright citizenship. Amending the Constitution is not the only available means for Congress to change the current policy, and Vitter's bill would impose limits on the application of the 14th Amendment.
"'Birth tourism' is certainly a reprehensible practice, but it is not an illegal one yet. It is astounding that the U.S. government allows individuals to exploit the loopholes of our immigration system in this manner, and Congress has the authority and the obligation to put a stop to it once and for all," Vitter added.
A new report by the Center for Immigration Studies finds that every year, 200,000 children are born to women who were lawfully admitted to the United States on a temporary basis. Each of these children received U.S. citizenship despite the mother being a citizen of another country.
A video clip of Vitter's floor speech on his legislation is available here.
In January, Vitter and Paul introduced a resolution that would amend the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. Vitter and Paul do not believe that the 14th Amendment confers birthright citizenship to the children of illegal aliens, either by its language or intent, and a constitutional amendment would provide final resolution to this matter. The resolution makes clear that under the 14th Amendment a person born in the United States to illegal aliens does not automatically gain citizenship.
Vitter is a leader in the U.S. Senate on illegal immigration policy and serves as the chairman of the U.S. Senate Border Security and Enforcement First Immigration Caucus.