UT professor questions Trump's immigration plan

Donald Trump's immigration plan includes ending birthright citizenship, meaning children born on US soil to undocumented immigrants would not be granted citizenship

(WBIR - UT Campus) Earlier this week, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump outlined his plan for immigration reform. It came in the form of a six-page document, released on his campaign website. Included in that is a plan to end birthright citizenship.

According to the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, all babies born on US soil are automatically given citizenship.

Section 1 reads, in part, "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."

Trump said he would not like that applied to children born to undocumented immigrants. He has called such children "anchor babies," which many consider to be an offensive term.

Karla McKanders is associate professor of law at the University of Tennessee's College of Law and also director of the Immigration Clinic at UT's Legal Clinic.

She said making that change would not be easy.

"The only way to change birthright citizenship is through, you know, amending the Constitution," McKanders said, "which is a very, very lofty task because it takes a lot to change our Constitution."

She said politicians have been trying since the 90's to pass legislation to remove birthright citizenship for children of undocumented immigrants, but that has never passed. Even if it would pass, she said, she doesn't believe it would last, as it defies the U.S. Constitution.

She added, "the Immigration and Nationality Act is second in complexity to the tax code, so there's a lot there that needs to be re-examined and reformed."

Eleazar Sanchez is watching Trump's comments closely, though he is unable to cast a vote to decide his own fate.

Sanchez came to the US from Mexico more than 20 years ago.

"I wanted to have a better life, a better life with my family," he said Friday afternoon. "I struggled in Mexico and the violence was so bad right there."

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He, his wife, and four of his five children are undocumented immigrants. His youngest daughter was born on US soil and is therefore a citizen.

Under Trump's plan, neither Sanchez nor future children born into his daughter's situation would be welcome in the US.

Immigration talk during a presidential race is nothing new, McKanders said.

"It kind of surfaces at times when we're trying to pick new leaders," she said."I think that it's evidence that we do need to do something to reform our immigration system, and I think both sides can agree that we need to come up with a solution."

She said the U.S. is home to an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants.

While a lot of emphasis in the immigration debate is placed on people illegally crossing the border from Mexico, McKanders said the majority of undocumented immigrants came to the US legally. Many of them came on some kind of visa, which eventually expired - and they stayed.

In response to Trump's use of "anchor baby," Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tweeted Thursday, "They're called babies."

As for Sanchez, the word for his youngest child is - daughter.

He said he and his family would like to stay in the US, continuing to work and pay taxes.

"We pay the same price as gasoline as you," he said.

"I agree with some of the candidates. They say the criminals have to go back. I agree complete with that, but the good people and families," he said, should be able to stay here.


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