Children of illegal immigrants at stake in plan to modify 14th Amendment

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PHOENIX – Two prominent state lawmakers will be in Washington, D.C. Wednesday as plans to modify the 14th Amendment of the Constitution will be unveiled at the National Press Club.

The issue at hand is automatic citizenship given to children born in the United States of parents who are in this country illegally, which is a provision of the 14th Amendment.

Arizona is one of 14 states that plan to introduce legislation that will force the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit the issue.

Two young Arizonans say the issue is about justice. Opal Tometi says, “I believe in what MLK had to say, injustice somewhere threatens justice everywhere.”

Incoming State Senate President Russell Pearce is one of the national leaders behind the movement which would deny citizenship to children born in the United States but whose parents are in the country illegally.

Tometi says, “I do the work because I see it as one of the most pressing issues facing Arizona and I feel, like I said, it’s an issue of justice. I can’t help but do the work.”

Arizona is one of 14 states ranging from Alabama to Texas to Delaware that plan to release details on legislation targeting the 14th Amendment in the nation’s capital.

Sandra Castro is also an American by birth whose mother was undocumented. She says, “It’s not fair that Russell Pearce or anybody else to determine whose life should be what and who deserves to be a citizen and who does not deserve to be a citizen.”

Those seeking a modification of the 14th Amendment claim it was intended solely to grant citizenship to post Civil War slaves.

Under that criteria, Tometi, whose parents are from Nigeria and whose ancestors were slaves, would have been denied American citizenship.

State Senator Ron Gould of Lake Havasu City and Fountain Hills Representative John Kavanagh are the Arizona lawmakers who will attend the unveiling of the plan Wednesday.

They are expected to introduce legislation as soon as the new session begins Monday.