It’s not just Donald Trump and Scott Walker that have declared children born on American soil should no longer be considered citizens: the American Legislative Exchange Council, or “ALEC,” made the same claim in 2008.
This week, Donald Trump released a six-page immigration plan that, among other far-fetched proposals (like having the Mexican government pay for a border wall), called for ending the birthright citizenship guaranteed by the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment, calling it “the biggest magnet for illegal immigration.”
In the face of declining poll numbers, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker jumped on the bandwagon, declaring that he too would dismantle the 14th Amendment, which grants citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States.” Even GOP presidential candidates who personally benefitted from birthright citizenship joined in. Marco Rubio and Bobby Jindal, both of whom are American citizens despite being born to non-citizen parents, called for restricting the program.
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How these candidates would undo 117 years of precedent is unclear: they would either have to amend the constitution, or appoint activist US Supreme Court justices willing to reverse the 1898 court decision that found the constitution guaranteed citizenship to all children born in the United States.
The American Legislative Exchange Council, or “ALEC,” adopted the same policy in a 2008 resolution. View it here.
This is ALEC’s logic:
The resolution calls on the United States Congress to “enact legislation clarifying the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution as denying citizenship status to children of illegal aliens simply by virtue of their being born in the United States,” although doing so would have no legal effect.
The following year, ALEC would adopt as “model” legislation the bill that would become Arizona’s anti-immigrant SB1070. At the time, private prison companies like Corrections Corporation of America were ALEC members, and also stood to profit from more immigrants behind bars.
Although ALEC dropped all immigration and crime-related policy creation in 2012 until recently after the controversy over its role in the Stand Your Ground legislation, it has never denounced this measure or done anything to repeal ALEC-inspired anti-immigration laws.
David Armiak contributed to this article.