GOP Request Questions Automatic Citizenship

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Prominent Republicans want to review part of the Constitution that grants automatic citizenship to babies born to illegal immigrants on American soil.

In another effort to stop illegal immigrants from sneaking across the border, some Republican senators said it shouldn't be automatic for their children to become American citizens if they are born here.

"To have a child in America, they cross the border, they go to the emergency room, have a child, and that child's automatically an American citizen," Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., said. "That shouldn't be the case."

Constitutional law expert Bradley Jacob, with Regent University, offered more insight on the issue of "birthright citizenship," on the Aug. 6 edition of CBN Newswatch. Click play for more, following this report. 

"It's a rather unseemly business, and I think we ought to have some hearings and take a look at it," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.

McConnell still believes Washington's immigration focus should remain on border security. However, he said he will look into reports of businesses that help illegal immigrants have babies in the United States in order to win their children U.S. citizenship.

Other senators who have concerns about birthright citizenship include Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and Graham.

Tea Party Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul of Kentucky was one of the first to address the issue.

"We're the only country I know of that allows people to come in illegally, have a baby, and then that baby becomes a citizen, and I think that should stop also," Paul said.

Stopping it would require changing the Constitution.

The 14th Amendment, which was adopted in 1868 after the Civil War, reads, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States."

At the time, that included recently freed slaves.

Those who are against changing the amendment said it would weaken a fundamental American value and do little to prevent illegal immigration. They also said it would result in bureaucratic hardships for parents giving birth.

"I think it is an issue that deserves discussion," Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said. "I think the way it's being presented now is 100 percent political."

Political or not, it is an issue when the Pew Hispanic Center estimates that as of 2008, there were 3.8 million illegal immigrants in the country whose children are U.S. citizens.

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CBN News
Mark Martin

Mark Martin

CBN News Reporter

Mark Martin is a reporter and anchor at CBN News, covering various issues from military matters to alternative fuels. Mark has reported internationally in the Middle East and traveled to Bahrain to cover stories on the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkMartinCBN and "like" him at