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Measures target citizenship for migrants’ kids

Arizona voters may be asked to decide whether to prohibit the state from issuing birth certificates to children of non-U.S. citizens and require hospitals to check the citizenship of parents of newborns.

Those are key provisions of a proposed initiative filed Friday for possible inclusion on the November 2008 ballot, and a leading legislative critic of illegal immigration says he plans similar but separate legislation to take the issue to voters.

Della Montgomery, the woman who filed the proposed initiative with the Secretary of State’s Office, did not return a call for comment Monday, but the proposed “Birthright Citizenship Alignment Act” appears to be aimed at illegal immigration.

“They are awarding the full privileges of United States citizenship of all persons born in the state without regard for the clear and equal requirements of federal law that a person born in the United States, shall citizenship be bestowed, shall not be subject to any foreign power and owe direct and immediate allegiance to the United States,” the proposed initiative’s declaration of purpose states.

Some critics of illegal immigration contend that the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment has been misapplied and was never intended to automatically grant citizenship to babies of illegal immigrants.

The constitutional provision was enacted after the Civil War and was meant to apply to former slaves, said Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa. “It has nothing to do with aliens.”

Supporters of the proposed initiative would need to submit signatures of at least 153,365 voters by July 3 to qualify the measure for the ballot. Legislative approval alone would be enough to put a referendum being drafted by Pearce on the ballot.

While generally banning issuance of birth certificates to noncitizens, the measure would permit one to be issued to a child whose mother is a foreign citizen and whose father is a U.S. citizen if the father formally acknowledges parentage and agrees in writing to financially support the child until adulthood.

The initiative also would require that hospitals submit “certified documentation of the parents’ United States legal status” to local registrars with birth certificates for newborns.

Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association officials did not immediately return a call for comment.

Pearce said he has no involvement with the initiative campaign other than to twice speak on the phone with the applicant, Della Montgomery, to review her proposed wording.

“I helped tweak it a little bit,” he said. “What she gave me looked pretty good.”

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