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Arizona’s next ugly battle: citizenship for immigrant children

The same state senator behind Arizona’s strict immigration laws is now pushing a troubling bill to ban birthright citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants.

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As a kid, I was well acquainted with the grandeur of Arizona. Each year, during my family’s annual drive from southern California to my grandpa’s home in Texas, I would gaze out the car window at soaring desert mesas, distant mountaintops crowned with snow, and endless vistas punctuated by sagebrush and cacti. An Arizona sunset, I thought, was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

Lately, it saddens me that the news from the Grand Canyon State is so ugly. In April, Gov. Jan Brewer signed the most stringent immigration law in the country. In May, the state banned ethnic studies in public schools and began investigating teachers with accents. Now the Arizona legislature may take aim at the children of illegal immigrants.

This fall, state Sen. Russell Pearce plans to introduce legislation that would end birthright citizenship for so-called “anchor babies.” Although the Fourteenth Amendment confers citizenship on anyone born in the US, Senator Pearce says that illegal aliens have “hijacked” the law. “There is an orchestrated effort by them to come here and have children to gain access to the great welfare state we’ve created," he told Time magazine.

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