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Steve King Introduces Bill To Stop 'Anchor Babies'

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Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has long advocated for an end to birthright citizenship for children born in the United States to undocumented parents.(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has long advocated for an end to birthright citizenship for children born in the United States to undocumented parents.(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON -- It's the first week of the 113th Congress, and one House member is already trying to stop children born in the United States to undocumented parents -- whom he calls "anchor babies" -- from gaining citizenship.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), an outspoken hardliner on immigration, introduced a bill on Thursday that would "clarify those classes of individuals born in the United States who are nationals and citizens of the United States at birth." The Supreme Court has consistently held that anyone born in the United States, regardless of their parents' immigration status, should receive citizenship under the 14th Amendment.

King disagrees, as do 13 co-sponsors on the bill, including Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) and Mo Brooks (R-Ala.).

"We need a common sense solution to fix the flawed interpretation of the Constitution's citizenship clause, and 'The Birthright Citizenship Act of 2013' does just that," he said in a statement on Friday. "The current practice of extending U.S. citizenship to hundreds of thousands of 'anchor babies' must end because it creates a magnet for illegal immigration into our country. Now is the time to ensure that the laws in this country do not encourage law breaking."

King has long been a supporter of stopping automatic citizenship and introduced a similar bill on the first day of the last legislative session in 2011.

According to the 14th Amendment, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside." But King argues that was not meant to include children of undocumented immigrants.

"The framers did not consider the babies of illegals when they framed the 14th amendment because we didn’t have immigration law at the time so they could not have wanted to confer automatic citizenship on the babies of people who were unlawfully in the United States," he told CityView in November 2010.

The issue of "anchor babies" was briefly in the mainstream in mid-2010, when a number of Republican politicians, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), said they would be willing to consider whether automatic citizenship should be blocked for children of undocumented immigrants. Sens. Paul Vitter (R-La.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced a congressional resolution in January 2011 to amend the constitution to end birthright citizenship.

Now, though, it's unlikely to gather much steam, as members of Congress turn their attention to immigration reform that could confer legal status to some undocumented immigrants. A spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who controls the House legislative calendar, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether the bill is likely to get to the floor.

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