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In Arizona, a bid to block citizenship for illegal immigrants' 'anchor babies'

Under the 14th Amendment, babies born in the United States automatically are citizens – even if their parents are illegal immigrants. Lawmakers in Arizona and other states are challenging that.

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Jorge Mendez, from Glendale, Ariz., dressed as a baby to play the role of an 'anchor baby' during a press conference at the State Capitol Thursday in Phoenix. Mr. Mendez opposes a bill to deny citizenship to some babies born in Arizona.

Jack Kurtz/The Arizona Republic/AP Photo

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Arizona – already tied up in federal court over its controversial immigration law – has launched another effort regarding illegal immigrants sure to be fought over on constitutional grounds. At issue are what immigration hard-liners call “anchor babies” – children born to illegal immigrants but who automatically are US citizens under the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.

Arizona lawmakers this week filed legislation requiring citizens of the state to be US citizens, with the added requirement that each person must have at least one parent who was born in the US or is a naturalized citizen. In other words, babies born in the United States to a father and mother who are both illegal immigrants would not be US citizens.

While Arizona is leading the way, other states are expected to follow – perhaps a dozen or so, according to State Legislators for Legal Immigration, a 40-state coalition founded by Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R). The organization wrote the model legislation introduced in Arizona on Thursday.

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