Last week, U.S. House Minority Leader John Boehner suggested to Fox News that Congress might need to re-examine the 14th Amendment in the immigration debate, and that the country should re-think giving automatic citizenship to anyone born in the United States. Sen. Jim Risch, Idaho’s junior member of the U.S. Senate, told IdahoReporter.com Monday that examination of the amendment should enter the immigration discussion, but that it must be coupled with strict immigration enforcement.
Boehner said officials must consider that illegal immigrants might come to the United States simply to have babies to create an anchor in the country. ”There is a problem. To provide an incentive for illegal immigrants to come here so that their children can be U.S. citizens does, in fact, draw more people to our country,” Boehner said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I do think that it’s time for us to secure our borders and enforce the law and allow this conversation about the 14th Amendment to continue.”
Risch said the topic needs debate. “I am open to the option of looking at changes to the 14th Amendment to prevent what some call ‘birth tourism,’” Risch told IdahoReporter.com. ”However, constitutional changes are very difficult and lengthy, as they should be. What is needed right now is stronger border security to prevent the unlawful entry into the United States.”
The 14th Amendment to the Constitution was enacted July 9, 1868, and was meant to rectify the 1857 ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in the Dred Scott case, which said that children of African-American slaves brought in from outside the country were not considered citizens of the country within the confines of the Constitution.
No other members of Idaho’s congressional have commented on Boehner’s suggestion.