Birthright Citizenship Act Adds 25 More Cosponsors

A small step in the right direction.

Rep. Nathan Deal’s (R-Ga.) bill to end Birthright Citizenship added 25new cosponsors after the Memorial Day recess. The bill currently has 71cosponsors in addition to Deal and is one of the five bills closelyfollowed by NumbersUSA.

The Birthright Citizenship Act of 2009 would amend the Immigrationand Nationality Act.** Under the bill, a person born in the United Statesgains citizenship if one of the person’s parents is:

  • a citizen or national of the United States;
  • an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States whose residence is in the United States; or
  • an alien performing active service in the armed forces.

To see a full list of sponsors view the tracker to the right or view our chart listing the sponsors to “5 Great Immigration-Reduction Bills.”

**That act is rarely mentioned when recounting the high points of1960s liberalism, but its impact arguably rivals the Voting Rights Act,the creation of Medicare, or other legislative landmarks of the era. Ittransformed a nation 85 percent white in 1965 into one that’s one-thirdminority today, and on track for a nonwhite majority by 2042.

Before the act, immigration visas were apportioned based on thedemographic breakdown that existed at the time of the 1920Census—meaning that there were few if any limits on immigrants fromWestern and Northern Europe, but strict quotas on those from elsewhere.

The belief that the United States should remain a nation of Europeanlineage was openly discussed when immigration laws were revisited in1952. The resulting bill, the McCarran-Walter Act, was notorious forgiving the State Department the right to exclude visitors forideological reasons, meaning that a raft of left-wing artists andwriters—including Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, British novelist GrahamGreene—and scores of others were denied visas. But it also had theeffect of maintaining the 1920s-era notion of the United States as awhite nation. (Congress imposed the bill over President Truman’s veto.)

A decade later, attitudes were changing, and President Kennedyproposed a new immigration structure that would no longer be based onnational origins. After Kennedy’s assassination, his brother Ted tookup the fight, pushing the Johnson administration to go even furtherthan it wanted in evening the playing field. Though Lyndon Johnson, insigning the bill, tried to reassure opponents that it wouldn’t do muchto change the balance of immigration, its impact was dramatic. — Peter S. Canellos, Boston Globe, November 11, 2008