SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
Page 1 TOP OF DOCCITIZENSHIP REFORM ACT OF 1997; AND VOTER ELIGIBILITY VERIFICATION ACT
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 25, 1997
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims,
Committee on the Judiciary,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:05 a.m., in room 2226, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Lamar Smith (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Lamar Smith, William L. Jenkins, Edward A. Pease, Ed Bryant, Melvin L. Watt, and Zoe Lofgren.
Also present: Cordia A. Strom, chief counsel; Edward R. Grant, counsel; George Fishman, counsel; Jim Wilon, counsel; Judy Knott, staff assistant; and Martina Hone, minority counsel.
OPENING STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN SMITH
Mr. SMITH. The Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims will come to order.
We appreciate the interest of everyone here in the two bills on which we have hearings today. And in that regard, I have an opening statement and then I'll yield to the gentleman from North Carolina. Then we'll begin as quickly as we can. We have six panels and we'd like to move through and finish up not too long after lunchtime.
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The two bills that we'll consider todaythe first is H.R. 7, the Citizen Reform Act of 1997, that was introduced by Congressman Brian Bilbray. H.R. 7 would alter the policy of birthright citizenship whereby just about every child born on American soil, including a child born to illegal aliens, is granted automatic citizenship. Mr. Bilbray's bill would extend birthright citizenship only to a child born in wedlock to parents either of whom is a citizen, national, or permanent resident, and to a child born out of wedlock if the child's mother is a citizen, national, or permanent resident.
The United States is one of the few major industrialized countries in the world which still grants automatic citizenship to even the children of illegal immigrants. England, the originator of birthright citizenship in feudal times, reversed course about 16 years ago. It is time for us to reconsider our policy of birthright citizenship. I know this is a sensitive and complex issue. Some argue, though I might disagree, that birthright citizenship is anchored in the first section of the 14th amendment to the Constitution which states that, ''all persons born in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States.'' The 14th amendment is one of the most emotion laden provisions of the Constitution, for it was written to guarantee citizenship to those formerly held in bondage and their descendants after the Civil War. But because of the very real and very deleterious effects of our present policy, change should be considered.
What are these realworld effects? Smugglers are bringing pregnant women into this country to give birth so that they can bestow upon their children American citizenship. About 16 percent of all the births taking place in California each year are to illegal alien mothers. The county of Los Angeles estimates that almost 200,000 U.S. citizens of illegal alien and amnestied alien parents living in Los Angeles are collecting $461 million a year in AFDC benefits. Even apart from quantifiable costs, isn't citizenship devalued when it is given away as a result of criminal activity?
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
H.R. 7 would do much to discourage illegal immigration and relieve the fiscal burden on States with high numbers of illegal immigrants and it would make U.S. policy consistent with the vast majority of countries around the world.
The second bill we will consider, H.R. 1428, the Voter Eligibility Verification Act, was introduced by Congressman Steven Horn. Citizens, and citizens alone, should be allowed to vote in Federal elections and thus to chart the course of our Nation's future. This right only belongs to those who are nativeborn or who have naturalized and taken oaths renouncing all allegiance to any other country. Congress reasserted this age old maxim last year by making it a deportable offense for an alien to vote in a Federal election. Such an act is also a Federal crime, punishable by fine or imprisonment.
But how are these provisions to be enforced? How often do aliens vote in Federal elections? Both of these questions can be answered only if those officials with responsibility for the voting rolls have a mechanism by which to ascertain who among their registered voters are, in fact, noncitizens. Representative Horn's bill, H.R. 1428, proposes such a mechanism. It would allow appropriate Federal, State, and local officials to voluntarily verify the citizenship of individuals registered to vote in their jurisdictions, providing they do not act in a nonuniform or otherwise discriminatory manner. Under the confirmation system created by the bill, the officials could have their voter rolls checked against Social Security Administration and INS records.
I know there are concerns about whether Social Security and INS data bases are reliable enough to do the job and whether they contain the necessary information in an easily-accessible format. I also know there are concerns about possible discrimination, for instance, should only registered voters with certain ethnic names be run through the system. But let's not lose sight of the purpose of this legislation. It is to protect a cherished right of American citizenship, the right to vote, from being debased and diluted.
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
[The bill, H.R. 7, follows:]
INSERT OFFSET RING FOLIOS 1 TO 3 HERE
Mr. SMITH. I recognize the gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Watt.
Mr. WATT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to welcome our colleague, Mr. Bilbray, here and when Mr. Horn arrives I will welcome him, too.
I will try to be as restrained as I can today, even though I don't think much of either one of these bills that we're considering. And I will tell you that at the outset, so that nobody will be surprised about it. I don't guess that anybody would have been surprised anyway.
I don't quite understandand maybe the hearings will help us understandhow we think we can accomplish what Mr. Bilbray's bill purports to accomplish without amending the Constitution. The chairman says the 14th amendment's language is laden with emotion. I don't think so. It's pretty damn clear to me. It says ''all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States.'' And I don't know how you can get beyond those provisions without doing something with the Constitution, to amend the Constitution. And, of course, you all know my attitude about amending the Constitutionso you've heard that speech many times, as my conservative colleagues have tried over the last 2 years on 118 different occasions to amend the Constitution.
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
So that's kind of where I start from, Mr. Chairman, and I'll try to be as cooperative and restrained as I can as we go through this process, but I just wanted to kind of put you on notice.
Mr. SMITH. Fair enough, Mr. Watt. Thank you for your comments.
The gentleman from Indiana is recognized.
Mr. PEASE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I apologize to members of the committee and our guests. Their are two other committees' meetings going on right now which I've been trying to attend, and because I did not hear the opening statements and don't wish to be repetitive, let me simply say that I have studied in a perfunctory way the matters that are before us today. I share some of Mr. Watts' concerns on the constitutional issues, but I am intrigued by the proposal that Mr. Bilbray has brought to us and I'm looking forward to this hearing.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Pease.
The gentlewoman from California, Ms. Lofgren.
Ms. LOFGREN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'd like to ask unanimous consent to submit my statement for the record as
Mr. SMITH. Without objection
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Ms. LOFGREN [continuing]. As well as a letter that was sent to me by the board of supervisors of Santa Clara County, which I represent and whom I served with for 14 years opposing
Mr. SMITH. Without objection, both will be made a part of the record.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Lofgren follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. ZOE LOFGREN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
I am very concerned about the two bills we are considering today, which I consider to be attacks on the Constitution.
For hundreds of years, our nation has subscribed to the common law precept of jus soli, which recognizes that citizenship is based on the place where a person is born. This rule was accepted as the law for our new democracy and ultimately codified in the Fourteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1866. These congressional actions were in response to an anomalous and infamous Supreme Court decision, Dred Scott, which denied citizenship rights to freed slaves.
In 1866, during Senate debate on the Fourteenth Amendment, one legislator, Senator Conness, proclaimed, ''I voted for the proposition to declare that the children of all parentage whatever, born in California, should be regarded and treated as citizens of the United States, entitled to equal civil rights with other citizens of the United States.''
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I must say that I find it disturbing that we are actually contemplating a contravention of Constitutional and civil rights as expressed by the 39th Congress. I would hope that we as a country, and as elected representatives, are, if anything, more enlightened than the American society and Congress of 130 years ago.
Following its passage, the Fourteenth Amendment was interpreted by the Supreme Court as an affirmation of the traditional jus soli rule and in Wong Kim Ark v. the United States the Court held that the ''Fourteenth Amendment ... has conferred no authority upon Congress to restrict the effect of birth, declared by the Constitution to constitute a sufficient and complete right to citizenship.'' It would be very difficult for the Court to be more clear on this point, and I think it casts much doubt on the constitutionality of any of the bills purporting to alter the right to citizenship at birth.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, ''We are a nation of many nationalities, many races, many religionsbound together by a single unity, the unity of freedom and equality.'' A bedrock principle of this equality is that all people enjoy the same rights and privileges based on their individual existence. You cannot be condemned by the government for your cultural or religious background or for anything your parents might have done. The proposals before us would do just this.
This country was founded as a nation of immigrants, and immigrants and their children have contributed much to our success as an economic and political superpower. Captains of industry, like Lee Iacocca, were born to immigrants. The parents of the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell, came to America from Jamaica. Many of the business leaders of Silicon Valley, my home, were not born in the United States. We draw strength from our diversity, and learn from our differences.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
While immigration to America entails both benefits and challenges, the melting pot that is America remains a symbol of tolerance and a model of assimilation across the globe. I find it extraordinarily ironic that many of the same people who espouse the need for us to unite under one language and one religion would seek to divide us according to the circumstances of our birth.
This legislation is also offensive because it would disadvantage some of the most vulnerable members of our societyinfants. How are babies born in the U.S. different from each other? The obvious answer is that they are not.
The damage to the Constitution and to our democracy that these proposals would render by itself is reason enough to reject them. While many in our country have concerns about unlawful immigration, we should measure carefully any remedies to ensure that any remedy does not have more long term problems than the issue we are attempting to address.
However, I also believe that it is interesting to look at the practical effects that would result from the enactment of this legislation.
One result would be that many American-born, would-be citizens, would instead be rendered ''stateless,'' citizens of no country. Many countries do not automatically ascribe citizenship based on parental citizenship. For instance, the child of an American born overseas can obtain derivative citizenship through its parents, but only if she returns to claim it within a set period of time.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Therefore, a child born here to foreign parents could very conceivably be without a country, as would all of his or her descendants if he or she did not marry a citizen. These people would have nowhere else to go, and would be forced to remain here, hoping to avoid detection by the government. With policies such as these we could be creating perpetual generations of stateless, undocumented aliens. I do not see how this constructively addresses the illegal immigration problem.
Another likely outcome would be chaos in maternity wards and incredible administrative burdens for the doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators that provide obstetric care to women having babies. They would have to assist the government in establishing the immigration status of all mothers who are giving birth or have just given birth. Most women don't think to bring proof of immigration status to the delivery room. The costs and increased bureaucracy that such a system would create are obvious.
Furthermore, one can see the likelihood of suspicion and discrimination based on ethnicity, which have no place in places of birth or healing. Any woman, regardless of immigration status, should not be deterred from receiving the prenatal and neonatal care that she needs. Such policies could actually increase the cost of illegal immigration to our health care system, because, as studies have shown, we can avoid the expense of numerous premature births with much less expensive preventative prenatal care.
It also is questionable that this change in policy would have any demonstrable impact on illegal immigration. The problem of illegal immigration is serious and we need to take reasonable steps to prevent and deter it. I supported the increased border patrols established by last year's immigration reform bill, and improved worksite enforcement mechanisms that have been implemented by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. However, I seriously doubt that denial of birthright citizenship would influence most aliens, because most undocumented immigrants come to this country because of economic opportunity and to escape oppression, not to determine the citizenship status of their offspring.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Federal appellate courts have upheld the refusal of the INS to stay the deportation of undocumented aliens solely on the basis that they have minor children who are U.S. citizens, because this would grant an unfair advantage to these aliens over other aliens who obeyed our immigration laws. There is no legal benefit for undocumented parents who give birth to American children. I understand that in some border areas, it is argued that mothers sometimes make efforts to give birth in this country in order to provide an opportunity for their children. To the extent that this is a real issue, it can be addressed in a much more measured fashion than the bills before the committeeprimarily through enhanced border enforcement.
Some of my colleagues have also alleged that some aliens want to have an American-born child for the purpose of eventually legally immigrating as an immediate family member once the child reaches the age of majority. I taught immigration law at Santa Clara University and was an immigration attorney for a number of years. In all my years of experience in this legal field, I never encountered the situation in which a mother planned a birth so that 21 years later her offspring could file a petition that would be approved and numerous years later result in residence for the parent. I seriously doubt that such a tactic could ever be widespread or should be the basis for such a fundamental change in our Constitution.
Similarly, I have grave concerns about H.R. 1428. Although I believe that my colleague from California, Mr. Horn, is well-meaning in his intentions, his legislation runs counter to many of the principles Americans hold dear.
The basic right of American citizenship is the right to participate in our democracy. In short, it is the right to vote. This bill implements additional barriers, tests, and devices, making it harder for citizens to vote, and conflicts with the Voting Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Further, the bill gives great discretion back to local registrars; given the history of discrimination in this arenadiscrimination that led to the Voting Rights ActI am concerned that the decision to verify citizenship will be based on skin color, accent, or some subjective determination of ''foreign-ness.''
Leaving the policy and constitutional implications aside, H.R. 1428 is simply unworkable. The INS databases are incontrovertibly incomplete, as well as being notoriously inaccurate; recent studies indicate an inaccuracy rate of at least 25 percent. The Social Security Administration's database is little better. Moreover, the inaccuracies tend to accumulate around the Asian and Latino names that are likely to be the targets of this legislation. The probability of massive error and the consequent likelihood that American citizens would be denied the right to vote are frighteningly real.
Mr. Chairman, we certainly have a strong interest in maintaining the integrity of our electoral process by ensuring that only citizens vote. Last year's immigration bill made it a felony for non-citizens to vote, and our communities have dealt with electoral fraud for, literally, centuries. We do not need this legislation to deal with voter fraud. Further, I believe that our real problem is that most actual citizens are not voting. In 1994, less than 40% of the electorate bothered to vote. The last thing we need are new barriers to voting.
As a Representative from California, I am fully aware of the burdens that illegal immigration can impose on local governments, the States, and the Federal government. However, these proposals are unconstitutional and contrary to the traditions of our republic. I believe they would also have almost no effect on the illegal immigration problems they seek to address. I hope that we will abandon these efforts and look for real solutions to the problems that confront us.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Ms. LOFGREN. I will also endeavor to be restrained in the course of this debate, but I join with my colleague, Mr. Watt, as well as the Justice Department, in observing that Mr. Bilbray's bill is, in fact, unconstitutional. And I do understandBrian and I have had an opportunity to talk about this issue privately, as well as in publicwe have a disagreement over the substance of where we should go, but I think it's abundantly clear that we may not go in this direction, absent a constitutional amendment.
I also have concerns about the voting provision that I hope we will also be able to go through. I think we all want to make sure we have a system with integrity, but we need to do so in a way that does not deter or make more difficult the participation of U.S. citizens in our democracy. So I'm eager to sort through that with the committee.
And with that, I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Ms. Lofgren.
Now we will go to our first panel, consisting of Congressman Brian Bilbray of California. Brian, you are an expert on this bill. We have talked about it for a number of years and we look forward to your testimony.
STATEMENT OF HON. BRIAN P. BILBRAY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. BILBRAY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I will try to be restrained, too, and stay within civil discourse. [Laughter.]
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I would only ask my colleagues to try to keep an open mind until such time as you have received all the evidence and points being made. I think we all agree that perceptions may not be reality. For 60 years in this country people thought segregation was constitutional. And I think we may be discussing an item now that wellmeaning and wellinformed people can discuss and be enlightened by both sides on this. And I would just ask you that you keep an open mind and take a look at the evidence we have presented to you today.
Mr. Chairman, I'd ask for unanimous consent, first of all, for my full written statement to be entered into the record and the statement by Congressman Beilenson of California in the last hearing, because I think it reinforces a lot of the practical application issues in this one.
Mr. SMITH. Without objection, both will be made a part of the record.
Mr. BILBRAY. I appreciate your holding this hearing on H.R. 7 and I appreciate the fact that your staff has helped to bring people out from the west coast. California so often feels sort of left out of the process and the logistical problems are tough.
Mr. Chairman, my lifetime experiences have led me to H.R. 7, the Citizenship Reform Act of 1997. After World War II, my mother immigrated into this country as a legal resident and was naturalized herein fact, was the first ''war bride'' to do such after World War II from Australia. I grew up in a family where the stories of my mother being quite emphatic that she wanted to be on U.S. soil when she gave birth to her childrenbasically, was a very strong statement about the right and the privilege of birthright citizenship.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I grew up along the Mexican border and I live today within sight of the international boundary with our neighbor to the south. As a citizen, as the mayor of a city along the frontier, as a county supervisor that served the poor and needy of our community, and now as a Congressman, I've witnessed firsthand, basically, the problems and the costs of illegal immigration, and, basically, the inconsistency of the Federal Government's handling of the issue and, frankly, the unfairness and the absurdity of the way it's been handled. As a mayor and county supervisor, I dealt with the problems of illegal immigration and the issue of illegal immigrants coming and giving birth in U.S. hospitals and then turning to the automatic citizenship clause as a vehicle to gain access to public benefits in the United States.
You will hear testimony from Supervisor Pam Slater today about the firsthand experience of what really is going on in the streets of the United States, specifically in San Diego.
Now, I do not blame the women or the illegal immigrants for this issue. It is only logical that if there is an opportunity to be able to drive through this gaping hole in our legislation, then anybody would do that. The problem here is the fact that the Federal Government, and Congress specifically, as defined in the fifth section of the 14th amendment, bear the responsibility of statutorily enforcing the intention of this legislation and this constitutional act. It is the lack of Congress specifically addressing this that needs to be addressed.
You will hear from a legal immigrant who's really pointing out one of the items that my mother always pointed out, and that is the inherent unfairness of the existing policythe unfairness of rewarding somebody for breaking immigration law while punishing those who are waiting patiently to play by the rules, the unfairness of telling somebody who is following the laws that their child does not get automatic citizenship, while they watch people break the laws, break the rules, and violate our national sovereignty and receive a very, very cherished possession: U.S. citizenship.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Now, I think that I would like to point out that our colleagueformer colleagueMr. Beilenson, though he had served many diverse parts of the community, specifically stated that the situation that we are addressing, the automatic conferring of citizenship on children of people who have entered our country in violation of our law, is so unfair and untenable under the 14th amendmentunintentional when the 14th amendment was adoptedthat it, I believe, and according to him, is one of those compelling reasons for amending the Constitution. Now, I will discuss the item of why the Constitution doesn't have to be specifically amended, but I think that Congress Beilenson's statement was ''there is no a mean spirit here; it's a fairness issue; it's a common-sense issue.''
Now, Congress must act, because specifically under the 14th amendment it is Congress who is given the responsibility under this section. Now, Senator Howard, the author of the 14th amendment, repeatedly stressed the fact to the Senate that there was a clause to the automatic citizenship and that clause was ''subject to the jurisdiction thereof.'' Dr. Erler later will testify specifically on the importance of that issue, but there are those in this country who would totally ignore that conditioning clause. And I would say to those who claim to defend the Constitution that every word, every comma of the Constitution has force. And if you ignore one word of the Constitution, you are de facto ignoring the Constitution as a whole.
Now, the Supreme Court has made major rulings. Mr. Chairman, the rulings of the Wong Kim Ark caseI'd like to point out that there were issues addressed; Congress has acted. And if you give mejust a point: Native Americans were not given automatic citizenship under the 14th amendment. Now, I ask any Member here, do you really think that it's logical and fair to think that you did not givethe 14th amendment did not giveautomatic citizenship to Native Americans on U.S. soil, but gives the children of illegal aliens such a treatment? I don't think our Founding Fathers or the American people in any way justify that kind of split treatment.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
In fact, in 1870 the Winnebago Indians were given citizenship by Congress, not by the 14th amendment. The Indian Territorial Nationalization Act of 1890 broadened the act to give citizenship to Indians and it wasn't until 1924 that Congress, not the 14th amendment, gave all Native Americans born in the United States automatic citizenship. It was not the 14th amendment; it was actually Congress. Now, that case has been ruled by the Wong Kim Ark case, where the Supreme Court ruled substantially.
Now, getting back to this issue of ''legal'' and ''illegal,'' the Wong Kim Ark case will be addressed in saying that it shows everyone born on U.S. soil is automatically a citizen. Now, I want to point out, Mr. Chairman, that the Wong Kim Ark case was a case of ''legal'' resident aliens, and was specifically identified as legal. The reference to the Calvin case, the British common law case, by the courts on the Calvinon the Wong Kim Ark case, specifically made reference to the fact that if you are legally in a country under an unwritten contract of loyalty and obedience, then you have an obligation of loyalty and obedience; thus, your children have the right of automatic citizenship.
But to claim that you can have the right of automatic citizenship without the obligation of loyalty and obedience is absurd and contrary to British common law and contrary to the ruling case, Wong Kim Ark, which you will hear opponents of my legislation specifically address. The Supreme Court has never ruled on the children of illegal aliens getting automatic citizenship. They have only ruled on legal aliens, and, as I said before, they made reference to the status of being a resident alien.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, I think it's perfectly clear that my legislation will affect those who feel that the status quo is fine and let's maintain it. I think it will invoke emotions. But let me say, as I said before, segregation invoked emotions, too. For 60 years, people claimed it was constitutional. And I think we've proven that standing up and saying, hey, let's take another look at this, proved out to be the right thing to do. I ask that we not make the same mistake and that we make the samewe move forward away from the assumption that just because this is the way it's always been, it's the way it always should be, and do what the people were willing to do decades ago with segregation and be willing to have the guts to look at it and say, ''Is it right? Is it appropriate? And is it constitutional?''
And if you look at this and address it properly, I think you'll come to the conclusion that the Constitution is based on commonsense approaches to human experience, and it is irrational and immoral to punish somebody for playing by the law, and playing by the rules, and doing the right thing, and rewarding those who have broken the law and violated our national sovereignty at the same time.
Thank you again, Mr. Chairman, and I appreciate your leadership on this issue.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Bilbray follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. BRIAN P. BILBRAY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. Chairman, before I begin, I'd like to ask unanimous consent that my full written statement be entered into the record.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this important hearing today and allowing us the opportunity to discuss my bill, H.R. 7. I appreciate your help, and that of your staff, in putting together the witness panels and assisting our West Coast witnesses with their arrangements.
Many lifetime experiences have led me to introduce H.R. 7, ''The Citizenship Reform Act of 1997.'' After World War II, my mother, the first Australian ''war bride'' ensured that my older brother and I were born on U.S. territory to guarantee our U.S. citizenship. I grew up along the U.S.-Mexican border. My family and I live within eyesight of the border of the U.S. and Mexico. As a citizen, mayor, county supervisor and now Congressman, I have witnessed first-hand the human cost of illegal immigration confronted by our communities on both sides of the border.
As a mayor and county supervisor, I've dealt with the problems of illegal immigrant mothers coming over to U.S. hospitals to have their babies, who in turn become automatic U.S. citizens and are therefore eligible for county, state and federal social services. We've all heard the alarming statistics. We are fortunate to have San Diego County Supervisor Pam Slater here today who can share her insight on this issue.
I do not blame these women for wanting to provide the best possible health care for their babies. Nor do I blame them for wanting to provide better opportunities for their family and wanting their children to be U.S. citizens. Thousands of people, every year, patiently go through the time consuming naturalization process to receive the privilege of becoming a United States citizen. In a few moments, you will hear from Ms. Gwat Bhattacharjie, who went through this process.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
It is out of fairness for these thousands of people, like my mother, like Ms. Bhattacharjie, who follow and respect our laws, that we must pass H.R. 7. While the automatic granting of citizenship clearly serves as a strong incentive for illegal immigration, the fact remains that such practice amounts to a reward for entering this country in violation of our laws. That is fundamentally unfair, and clearly an unintended consequence to the 14th Amendment.
Our former colleague, Mr. Beilenson, recognized this unfairness and put it quite eloquently during last year's hearing on this issue. And I quote, ''We are a Nation that has taken great pride in expanding the civil rights of groups of people through the years. The notion of denying an existing right to any class of people, no matter how sensible it may be, is something that goes against our nature as Ameri-cans.... However, the situation that we are addressingthe automatic conferring of citizenship on children of people who have entered our country in violation of our lawsis so unfairand unintended when the 14th Amendment was first adoptedthat it does provide, I believe, one of those rare compelling reasons for amending the Constitution.'' I, too, believe this case is compelling, though, I believe we don't need a constitutional amendment to fix this problem. I encourage you all to review Mr. Beilenson's testimony from last year and ask that his statement be entered into the record.
Opponents of H.R. 7 talk about how this bill would create a separate class of people. Mr. Chairman, that is already going on now with the current and inaccurate interpretation of the 14th amendment. As Mr. Beilenson pointed out last year, the current situation favors children of one illegal family over another. If a mother and father comes over illegally with a young child, that child does not have citizenship. But if a similar young mother and father come across the border illegally and give birth to a child, that child is a citizen. There is no legitimate reason for that distinction between those two families, those two children.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Congress must act now. Some would argue that Congress does not have the authority to act on its own and that a constitutional amendment is required. I disagree. Though I may be wrong, we have to at least try to resolve this problem statutorily. If I am wrong, the courts will strike it down. I don't think they will. Also, reading the transcripts of the debate on the Senate floor by the authors of the 14th Amendment, their intentions were quite clearCongress has the authority to clarify and define citizenship and that citizenship is not necessarily granted simply because you are born here. Senator Howard, author of the 14th Amendment, repeatedly stressed this fact during the debate. Hence, the clause, ''subject to the jurisdiction of.'' We have Dr. Edward Erler here who will further examine this important issue.
Obviously, there are exceptions to birthright citizenship. Congress has employed these constitutional powers in several cases. It clarified and legislated citizenship status for native Americans in 1870 with the Winnebago Indians in Minnesota, by permitting them to apply for citizenship with the condition that the Indians cease to be members of the tribe. The Indian Territorial Nationalization Act in 1890 broadened the earlier Act by allowing any member of any Indian tribe or nation residing in Indian territory to apply for citizenship. From 1854 until 1924, citizenship was a common Government incentive to encourage assimilation of Indian persons. Congress' authority to nationalize Indians was also sustained by the courts in the case of Elk v. Wilkins in 1884 and the U.S. v. Celestine in 1909. These cases were important for two reasonsfirst it reaffirmed Congressional authority, and second, it limited the notion of birthright citizenship. Because it was perceived that Indians owed their allegiance to their tribe, not the U.S., they were therefore not under the obedience of the U.S. Therefore, they were only to be granted U.S. citizenship by an act of Congress. Congress did this in 1924.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The McKay v. Campbell case specifically said that to be a citizen of the United States by reason of birth, a person must not only be born within the territorial limits, but he also must be born ''subject to the jurisdiction,'' meaning the power and obedience of the United States. Clearly, a person who breaks our laws in entering our country is not ''obedient'' to the United States.
Some have also cited the Wong Kim Ark case as legal precedence for the granting of automatic birthright citizenship, and why a constitutional amendment is necessary. This case actually supports my point in H.R. 7. Let me point out that Mr. Ark was born in the U.S. by parents who were here legally.
H.R. 7 does not challenge any of these cases. Children born of legal residents are granted U.S. citizenship under H.R. 7. In fact, no Supreme Court case has ever been tried involving illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants just didn't exist during the debates of the 14th Amendment because we did not have any immigration laws at that time.
Mr. Chairman, I want to make it perfectly clear, my legislation only affects those who break our laws and enter our country illegally. It's simply an attempt to bring fairness to a highly emotional and complex issue. For 60 years, the absurd notion of segregation was accepted as constitutional, but eventually was overturned. Let's not make the same mistake in the name of the Constitution.
Again, thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your leadership on the whole issue of reforming our immigration laws. I look forward to working with you in bringing H.R. 7 to the floor of the House.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Bilbray. I think you pointed out in your testimony how close you live to the border. So far as I know, you are the only Member of Congress who can actually see the border from your own home, and that does give you a special perspective.
Several points that you made, I want to followup on. The first being, and I think it's important to restate, the problem is not the people. If we were in the shoes or boots of the people who lived in other countries, we'd want to come to America, too. This is still the country of the greatest economic opportunity, the greatest freedom, in my opinion, of any country in the world. So we can't blame the people.
What we can blame is the policies that attract them or provide an incentive for them to come to this country. Now, I think it's instructive to point out that of the industrialized countries in the world, few have a policy where the children of illegal aliens or illegal immigrants are automatically deemed to be citizens. And of those two are in the process of reconsidering. So I think you have at least world opinion on your side.
The Department of Justice will testify in a few minutes and make two points. And I want to ask you to respond a little bit further on one and then expound on the other one as well. The major point uses the Wong Kim Ark case as a case to justify the current interpretation of the 14th amendment. Now, you have already pointed out that that case dealt with legal immigrants, not illegal immigrants. So I think that that's a major source of distinction. Is there anything else you wanted to say on the subject?
Mr. BILBRAY. Well, I think the Wong Kim Ark and the Supreme Court ruling really made it clear that it's not just the groundthat there has to be an allegiance and obedience tied to it. And I think the quote that I'd like to refer to, it says that the locality of a man's birthit was saying that the person's birthright, in theory at least, depends not upon the locality of the man's birth, but upon his being born within the jurisdiction and allegiance of the King of England. And it might be, the fact is, it might occasionally happen that a person was born within the domain and without being born under the allegiance.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Now, that was basedthat was our Supreme Court ruling. Now, what it was based on was the Calvin case, which was 1608, which ruled that Calvin was a citizen because his parents owed allegiance, could be tried for treason. And the way theythis is how the British said it in 1608 and I wish we were as poetic. It says, ''neither the climate nor the soil, but the loyalty and the obedience that make the subject born.''
So I think that it's quite clear that when we get into itis that, when you get into that, is the cases were based on you must serve loyalty. And I would ask any member here, is there an obligation of loyalty to an illegal alien?
I would ask my colleagues who oppose this legislation, what would be your reaction if the Federal Government tried an illegal alien for treason? I think we all agree that illegal aliens bear no responsibility of loyalty. They do not, they could not, and should not be tried for treason. Based on the British common law, as reinforced by the Wong Kim Ark, that if the parents cannot be tried for treason, then the parents have no obligation; thus, the children have no automatic citizenship right. That is the major determining factor. Let me point out that legal immigrants can be tried for treason, do have obligation to serve their country while they are temporarily in the country.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Bilbray, I'm going to try to squeeze in a couple more questions here. The Department of Justice will also argue that illegal aliens are, under the language of the 14th amendment, ''subject to the jurisdiction thereof.'' Explain a little bit more why illegal aliens would not be subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BILBRAY. ''Subject to the jurisdiction thereof'' has two conditioning clauses. One, the laws must apply; second, loyalty needs to be required. Indians of the United States could be brought into court and tried for crimes. They could not be tried for treason because their loyalty was to the tribe, not to the United States. You've got to have both, and if you go through these cases, you'll see they will refer to them both constantly, and that is why Indians did not get automatic citizenship, Mr. Chairman, and that is why illegal aliens should be, because, again, you cannot break the nexus between obligation and rights, responsibilities and rights.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Bilbray, some people would suggest that if we do not allow the children of illegal alien parents to become citizens, we will create a class of individuals in this country that will be in sort of a suspended state of existence. What's your response to that?
Mr. BILBRAY. Well, if anybody had any practical knowledge like some of us that have worked with these problems, you would recognize that you're actually creating that right now. You have familiesyou have families that have had children outside the United States that were not in violation of immigration when they were born. They came into this country illegally. You have other ones who have brought their children, who have come in and given birth within the United States. When the parents are being deported, you now have a class of citizen who is now split from their parents, because there is now no nexus based on citizenship.
So now you have one family where they did not, basically did not give birth within the United States; they are being deported as a unit. Now you've got the situation where you're creating a new class with the existing law, Mr. Chairman. So this argument of creating an underclass one way or the other, that is a whole issue separate from specific citizenship of the fact that our absurd immigration policies of the past have created absurd situations. And all this legislation is trying to do is correct an absurd situation.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Bilbray.
The gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Watt, is recognized.
Mr. WATT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Let me, first of all, take issue with one thing that Mr. Bilbray said and one thing that the chairman implied. This notion that because there are some problems and costs associated with the Constitution, we ought to be doing something in violation of the Constitution, is just one that I cannot accept. I mean, there are problems and costs associated with just about every single provision of the U.S. Constitution. There are clearly problems associated with the first amendment and the second amendment, and the third amendment, and the fourth. I mean, you just go on and on and on. So, you know, the notion that there is some obligation to respond because there are problems and costs associated with honoring the Constitution is just one that I can't down.
Second, the notion that the chairman advanced and that Mr. Bilbray advanced in his statement, or at least implied, that the rest of the nations of the world are moving in some direction, and, therefore, world opinion is on your side of this issue, simply is not persuasive, in my opinion. Our Constitution is not subject to world opinion. And if it is, then the way to make it subject to world opinion is to change the Constitution, not to just go and pass a statute that clearly flies in the face of the Constitution.
So I just don'tI have some problem with that. And I just wanted you to know that those two arguments simply don't carry much weight as far as I'm concerned. What does carry some weight, Mr. Bilbray, is your proposition that every word in the Constitution should be interpreted to have some meaning, and actually I've always been a proponent of that. I'm one of theprobably in this Congress, one of the strictest readers of the Constitution. And, typically, I think that words are not put there if they don't have some meaning. And I do think that ''subject to the jurisdiction thereof'' in this context probably has some meaning, and I don't know what it is. I'm not even going to try to advance what that meaning is. But I would say to you that the Supreme Court has not agreed with you on this proposition, and your notion that the Supreme Court has never ruled on the children of illegal aliens is just contrary to the case of Plyler v. Doe. And unless you can tell me something about that case that distinguishes itmaybe I'm missing something. And they took that little phrase on pretty directly in that case. So, I mean, how are you distinguishing that case?
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. BILBRAY. The way I'm distinguishing it is the issue here is birthright citizenship, not necessarily access to services, not necessarily States' ability to interpret in one way or the other. And I need tolet me clarify that my argument here, Congressman, is not that we need to change or ignore the Constitution for monetary reasons. My argument isby ignoring every word in the Constitution or one phrase in the Constitution, it is costing undue hardships. Mine is to protect the Constitution and defend it.
Mr. WATT. Wouldn't a better route for this, if what you're saying is true, that the Supreme Court has not ruled on it, be to try to get the Supreme Courtget a case before the Supreme Court and have the Supreme Court interpret what this statutoryI mean, what this constitutional language means? I mean, they might agree with you. You know, this bill may be totally unnecessary, if that's the case.
Mr. BILBRAY. Mr. Congressman, we are the legislative branch. I would ask you
Mr. WATT. We can't overrule the Constitution, I mean
Mr. BILBRAY. And we can't. And the process is for us to statutorily address the issues as identified in the fifth section of the 14th amendment, just as Members of Congress had modified their approach to Native Americans. Now, I would just ask you
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WATT. But there's a whole history from Native Americans. I mean, the theory was there that Native Americans were in separate nations. I mean, it's a crazy theory, I agree with you. I mean, it's just insane that we could justbut, you know, that's what people were doing all along the way. They were making up these rules and kind of making distinctions without differences. The theory was that they had created separate nations for Native Americans.
Mr. BILBRAY. So you think that if we took it to the Supreme Court now, they would rule that the 14th amendment did give citizenship?
Mr. WATT. Oh, I don'tI think it's academic now.
Mr. BILBRAY. I think it's not academic when you talk about illegal aliens now.
Mr. WATT. Well, it's not academic, but to liken this to Native Americans doesn't solve the illegal immigrant problem. I mean, there's at least a professed rational basis for dealing with Native Americans that way. I didn't necessarily agree with it. I think it's insane, but, you know, I thought telling me that black people weren't citizens or were two-thirds of a citizen, or whatever, I thought that was insane, too.
Mr. BILBRAY. The 14th amendment didn't do that.
Mr. WATT. You know, there is at least was some process for dealing with that, and, you know, I don't think you get there the way this bill gets you there. Maybe you do get there. If the Supreme Court rules that way, then it seems to me that we either amend the Constitution to put it back, or we leave it like it is, and the Supreme Court has already interpreted and your legislation is not needed.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. BILBRAY. I would just point out, no case before the Supreme Court has reversed the finding of Wong Kim Ark, which specifically made reference to the British common law, that when you allow someone in legally into your country, there is an unwritten contract of loyaltythat in that Calvin case, and referred to in the Wong Kim Ark, that those who occupy or enter the country without permission of the sovereign, do not fall under that category, and that their obligations and their rights do not apply equally with those who are legally in the country or those who are citizens. And that's all I'm saying, Congressman, is that there is an issue here; that we've ignored this problem for so long, we just sort of assume it was there. And that the ''subject to the jurisdiction'' was just a phrase that did not bear any weight. It bears lots of weight.
And if you listen to Senator Howard's debate on the HouseI mean, on the Senate floor, it bears very much a lot of weight. And you may not agree with it in situations like this with the Indians, which I may agree with you onyou may see the Indian issue absurd and you may see this as absurd, but what I'm saying is the Constitution was defined and has been defined that way ever since it was adopted.
Mr. WATT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Watt.
The gentleman from Indiana, Mr. Pease, is recognized.
Mr. PEASE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I confess it's been a while since I sat for the bar and I haven't studiedrestudiedmy constitutional history, but my understanding of the major context of the adoption of the 14th amendment was in the context of the abolition of slavery. I'm wondering if you can share with us some of the historical context of illegal immigration in the United States when the 14th amendment was adopted.
Mr. BILBRAY. The fact is illegal immigration and the concept of it didn't exist. The only thing that existed at that time was the concept of ''enemy alien,'' which was perceived as somebody who came into the jurisdiction without the permission of the civil authorities. And the 14th amendment was specifically addressed for those who hadstated by Senator Howard, and reinforced by Senator Trumbull at that time, was these are people who are on U.S. soil because we want them to be here. In fact, they were forced to come. We have chosen for them to be on U.S. soil. With that authority to have them here, we owe them an obligation to give their children citizenship. Congressman, that doesn't sound like illegal immigration to me.
Mr. PEASE. Thank you very much.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Pease.
Ms. LOFGREN. I'll be very quick because we have a vote on and I know that the Congressman and I have had an opportunity to discuss this in the past and we simply disagree. But I will say this: that I think that the fact that illegal immigration was not a motivator for the 14th amendment, although an interesting historical fact, is not dispositive as to the meaning. Clearly, equal protection was never intended to apply to women, but it does. And I would just note that there is a whole series of cases that I think shed light on the meaning of ''subject to the jurisdiction.'' I mean, if you are here without legal documentation and you steal something, you're subject to the jurisdiction of the laws of the United States for purposes of criminal prosecution. If you're a diplomat and you steal something, you are not. And the cases, I think, are very clear that that is the distinction made in the 14th amendment. I know Mr. Bilbray disagrees, but I think the cases are abundantly clear.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I would say beyond going into the legal issuesand I know the Justice Department will at some lengththat the impact, I believe, for our society, aside from the unconstitutionality of the act, is not positive. And I say that as someone who is from California, born and raised there, who served on the board of supervisors in Santa Clara County for 14 years. I do know that there are some burdens to county government and to California for unlawful immigration. I oppose unlawful immigration. However, there are burdens to upholding our Constitution and there is great benefit in rewarding and celebrating the Americanization of people who are born in our country. That is why the board of supervisors in my county strongly oppose this legislation, and I think there are many local governments who join in that opinion.
I know that we are all concerned about money and that San Diego County, because of its proximity to the border, has burdens that are different than those counties more to the north. And we discussed that when Brian and I wereor Congressman Bilbray and I weresupervisors together in California. And yet we may not distort or harm our Constitution for merely financial reasons and I would note that if we wanted to be prudent with funding, if we wanted to further compensate the counties of California, as I believe we should, we could have used the $27 billion we blew on Monday on planes that the Pentagon doesn't even want.
And with that, I would yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Ms. Lofgren.
Mr. Bilbray, thank you for your presentation.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The subcommittee will take a 15-minute recess while we go vote and we will return and pick up with the second panel.
Mr. BILBRAY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. Thanks, we'll now reconvene. Mr. Watt and I have come back from a vote. We have another vote immediately after this one, so what we're going to try to do is to begin and conclude panel two.
Panel two consists of Dawn Johnsen, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Office of Legal Counsel, U.S. Department of Justice. Ms. Johnsen, we welcome you and look forward to your testimony.
STATEMENT OF DAWN E. JOHNSEN, ACTING ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, OFFICE OF LEGAL COUNSEL, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Ms. JOHNSEN. Thank you. Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I appreciate the opportunity to testify on behalf of the Department of Justice on the issue of birthright citizenship. I would like to rely on my written submission for a more thorough treatment of the issue and ask that it be made part of the record, and at this time only outline briefly why the proposed legislation, in our view, is plainly unconstitutional.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Throughout our Nation's history, the fundamental legal principle governing citizenship has been that those who are born within the territorial limits of the United States are U.S. citizens. The Supreme Court departed from this common law principle in its terribly misguided decision in Dred Scott. Our Nation then suffered a brutal civil war, following which we enshrined the common law principle in our Constitution to guarantee citizenship to those born in the United States. The 14th amendment, adopted to overturn Dred Scott, unequivocally declares that all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States in the State wherein they reside. Most important for our purposes today is the phrase ''subject to the jurisdiction thereof.''
Because H.R. 7 seeks to deny citizenship to certain children born in the United States by defining this jurisdictional phrase to exclude those born to parents who are not themselves citizens or permanent resident aliens, such a bill would be flatly unconstitutional. Congressman Bilbray, of course, is right when he says that we must interpret all words in the Constitution to have meaning. So the question is, what is the meaning of that phrase ''subject to the jurisdiction thereof?''
We know the answer to that question from the legislative history of the 14th amendment and from governing Supreme Court case law. The 14th amendment's use of ''subject to the jurisdiction thereof'' does nothing more than incorporate four well-defined exceptions to the rule of American birthright citizenship. Three of those exceptions are as old as the common law rule itself. By common law, children born to foreign diplomats, on foreign ships, and to any occupying forces were consistently deemed not fully subject to the sovereign and, therefore, not citizens by birth.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The final exception captured by this phrase, in some sense related to the others, was that of children born to American Indians who were recognized as owing direct allegiance to the tribes of which they were members. Individuals in these four categories were deemed to have varying claims of exemption from the rules governing the American polity and, therefore, were excluded from the rule of automatic citizenship.
Aliens, in contrast, whether temporary or permanent, legal or illegal, do not enjoy any comparable claim of not being subject to the full jurisdiction of the United States. To the contrary, as the Supreme Court said in Wong Kim Ark, and I quote: ''It can hardly be denied that an alien is completely subject to the political jurisdiction of the country in which he resides ... [and] owes obedience to the laws of that government and may be punished for treason, or other crimes, as a native-born subject might be, unless his case is varied by some treaty stipulations.'' As Wong Kim Ark further explains, the alien's, ''allegiance to the United States is direct and immediate and, although ... continuing only so long as he remains with in our territory, is yet ... strong enough to make a natural subject, for if he has issue here, that issue is a natural-born subject.''
Thus, in determining whether one is ''subject to the jurisdiction'' of the United States for purposes of the 14th amendment, the relevant question is whether that person owes obedience to the United States, not, as some have suggested, whether the person or his or her parents in fact obeyed or violated U.S. law.
The Supreme Court's exhaustive analysis in Wong Kim Ark makes clear that the only exceptions to the constitutional rule of birthright citizenship are the three common law exceptions and, the ''single additional exception,'' of children of members of Indian tribes. The 14th amendment guarantees U.S. citizenship to all other children born in the United States.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
In conclusion, we cannot and should not try to solve the difficult problems surrounding illegal immigration by denying citizenship to persons whose claim to be recognized as Americans rests on the Constitution and over 200 years of history. We stand ready to continue to work with the committee on legislation to address these important issues in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Johnsen follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DAWN E. JOHNSEN, ACTING ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, OFFICE OF LEGAL COUNSEL, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Chairman Smith, Members of the Committee,* throughout this country's history, the fundamental legal principle governing citizenship has been that birth within the territorial limits of the United States confers United States citizenship. As Justice Noah Swayne wrote in one of the first judicial decisions interpreting the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (''1866 Act''):(see footnote 1) '' 'Citizens' under our constitution and laws means free inhabitants born within the United States or naturalized under the laws of congress. We find no warrant for the opinion that this great principle of the common law has ever been changed in the United States.''(see footnote 2) When Justice Swayne wrote these words, the nation was only beginning to recover from a great civil war sparked in no small part by the Supreme Court's tragically misguided decision in the Dred Scott case.(see footnote 3) That decision sought to modify the founders' rule of citizenship by denying American citizenship to a class of persons born within the United States. In response to Dred Scott and to the Civil War, Congress enacted the 1866 Act, and Congress and the States adopted the Fourteenth Amendment in order to place the right to citizenship based on birth within the jurisdiction of the United States beyond question. As a result, any proposed provision of law, such as the ''Citizenship Reform Act of 1997'' (H.R. 7), that purports to deny citizenship by birth to persons born within the jurisdiction of this country would be unconstitutional on its face.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC* In December 1995, Walter Dellinger, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, provided substantially similar testimony to this Committee and the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary concerning proposed legislation to deny citizenship at birth to certain children born in the United States.
The stated purpose of H.R. 7 is ''to deny automatic citizenship at birth to children born in the United States to parents who are not citizens or permanent resident aliens.'' Section 3(a) of the bill would amend section 301(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which grants U.S. citizenship ''at birth'' to all persons ''born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.'' Specifically, section 3(a) proposes to define the phrase ''subject to the jurisdiction thereof'' to include only children born to U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens.
This proposed legislation is unquestionably unconstitutional. The Fourteenth Amendment declares that ''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.'' The unmistakable purpose of this provision was to constitutionalize the existing Anglo-American common law rule of jus soli or citizenship by place of birth and especially to extend it to persons of African descent and their descendants.(see footnote 4)
The phrase ''subject to the jurisdiction thereof'' was meant to reflect the existing common law exception for discrete sets of persons who were deemed subject to a foreign sovereign and immune from U.S. laws, principally children born in the United States of foreign diplomats, with the single additional exception of children of members of Indian tribes. Apart from these extremely limited exceptions, there can be no question that children born in the United States of aliens are subject to the full jurisdiction of the United States. And, as consistently recognized by courts and Attorneys General for over a century, most notably by the Supreme Court in United States v. Wong Kim Ark,(see footnote 5) there is no question that they possess constitutional citizenship under the Fourteenth Amendment. Affirming the citizenship of African Americans that Dred Scott had denied, in 1862 President Lincoln's Attorney General wrote an opinion for the Secretary of the Treasury asserting ''[a]s far as I know ... you and I have no better title to the citizenship which we enjoy than the 'accident of birth'the fact that we happened to be born in the United States.''(see footnote 6)
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
While the Constitution recognized citizenship of the United States in prescribing the qualifications for President, Senators, and Representatives, it contained no definition of citizenship until the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868. Prior to that time, citizenship by birth was regulated by the common law, which conferred citizenship upon all persons(see footnote 7) born within the territory of the United States, whether children of citizens or aliens.(see footnote 8) The only common law exceptions to this generally applicable rule of jus soli were of children born under three circumstancesto foreign diplomats, on foreign ships, and to hostile occupying forceswhich, under principles of international law, were deemed not to be within the sovereignty of the territory.(see footnote 9)
As the legislative history of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the Fourteenth Amendment makes clear, the definitions of citizenship contained in both were intended to codify the common law and overrule Dred Scott's denial of citizenship to persons of African descent. Thus, with the three limited common law exceptions already noted, and the additional exception of tribal Indians, the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed citizenship to all persons born in the United States, including children born to aliens.
The Civil Rights Act of 1866 provides: ''[A]ll persons born in the United States, and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States.'' During the debates on the 1866 Act, the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Wilson, stated that the provision defining citizenship is ''merely declaratory of what the law now is.'' He cited, among other authorities, a quotation from William Rawle, whose constitutional law treatise was one of the most widely respected antebellum works: ''Every person born within the United States, its Territories or districts, whether the parents are citizens or aliens, is a natural-born citizen in the sense of the Constitution, and entitled to all the rights and privileges appertaining to that capacity.''(see footnote 10)
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The Fourteenth Amendment as initially drafted contained no definition of citizenship. In proposing to insert the definition that became the opening sentence of the Fourteenth Amendment, Senator Howard of Michigan noted:
This amendment which I have offered is simply declaratory of what I regard as the law of the land already, that every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States.
He explained that this was not meant to include those discrete classes of persons excluded by the common law, ''but will include every other class of persons.''(see footnote 11)
The framers intended the amendment to resolve not only the status of African Americans and their descendants, but that of members of other alien groups as well. This is reflected in the exchange between Senators Trumbull and Conness, supporters of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1866, and Senator Cowan, a strong opponent of both. Senator Cowan expressed his reluctance to amend the Constitution in such a way as would ''tie the hands'' of the Pacific states ''so as to prevent them from [later] dealing with [the Chinese] as in their wisdom they see fit.'' The supporters of the citizenship clause responded by confirming their intent to constitutionalize the U.S. citizenship of children born in the United States to alien parents:
Senator Cowan.... I am really desirous to have a legal definition of ''citizenship of the United States.'' What does it mean? ... Is the child of the Chinese immigrant in California a citizen? Is the child of a gypsy born in Pennsylvania a citizen?
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Senator Conness.... The proposition before us ... relates ... to the children begotten of Chinese parents in California, and it is proposed to declare that they shall be citizens. We have declared that by law; now it is proposed to incorporate the same provision in the fundamental instrument of the nation. I am in favor of doing so.(see footnote 12)
The constitutional guarantee of citizenship to children born in the United States to alien parents has consistently been recognized by courts, including the Supreme Court, and Attorneys General for over a century. Most notably, in United States v. Wong Kim Ark,(see footnote 13) the Supreme Court held that a child born in San Francisco of Chinese parents (who, under the Chinese Exclusion laws then in effect, could never themselves become U.S. citizens) became at the time of his birth in the United States a citizen of the United States, by virtue of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The Court, in a detailed review of the Anglo-American common law of citizenship and the legislative history of the Fourteenth Amendment, established several propositions. First, the language of the Constitution, as it relates to citizenship, must be interpreted in light of the common law. Under the common law of England, which was adopted by the United States, every child born within the territory of alien parents was a natural-born subject, with the exception of children born of foreign ambassadors, of alien enemies during hostile occupation, and of aliens on a foreign vessel.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Further, ''[a]s appears upon the face of the [Fourteenth] Amendment, as well as from the history of the times, [the amendment] was not intended to impose any new restrictions upon citizenship, or to prevent any persons from becoming citizens by the fact of birth within the United States, who would thereby have become citizens according to the law existing before its adoption. It is declaratory in form, and enabling and extending in effect.'' Id. at 676. Specifically, the Court described the purpose for including the qualification ''and subject to the jurisdiction thereof'' as follows:
The real object ... in qualifying the words ''[a]ll persons born in the United States,'' by the addition, ''and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,'' would appear to have been to exclude, by the fewest and fittest words, (besides children of members of the Indian tribes, standing in a peculiar relation to the National Government, unknown to the common law,) the two classes of caseschildren born of alien enemies in hostile occupation, and children of diplomatic representatives of a foreign Stateboth of which ... by the law of England, and by our own law, ... had been recognized exceptions to the fundamental rule of citizenship by birth within the country.
Id. at 682. Upon completing an exhaustive review of the relevant law, the Court concluded that the only exceptions to the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of citizenship to all born in the United States were those already recognized under the common law ''with the single additional exception'' of children born to members of American Indian tribes:
The Fourteenth Amendment affirms the ancient and fundamental rule of citizenship by birth within the territory, in the allegiance and under the protection of the country, including all children here born of resident aliens, with the exceptions or qualifications (as old as the rule itself) of children of foreign sovereigns or their ministers, or born on foreign public ships, or of enemies within and during a hostile occupation of part of our territory, and with the single additional exception of children of members of the Indian tribes owing direct allegiance to their several tribes. The Amendment, in clear words and in manifest intent, includes the children born, within the territory of the United States, of all other persons, of whatever race or color, domiciled within the United States. Every citizen or subject of another country, while domiciled here, is within the allegiance and the protection, and consequently subject to the jurisdiction, of the United States.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Id. at 693.
The Court then turned to the status of Chinese persons in the United States under the Constitution and the Chinese Exclusion Acts, which provided for exclusion and expulsion of Chinese persons. After considering the effects of both sources of law, the Court held that Wong Kim Ark had become a citizen at birth by virtue of the Fourteenth Amendment, reaffirming the constitutional principle that ''[t]he Fourteenth Amendment, while it leaves the power, where it was before, in Congress, to regulate naturalization, has conferred no authority upon Congress to restrict the effect of birth, declared by the Constitution to constitute a sufficient and complete right to citizenship.'' Id. at 703.
The principles set forth in Wong Kim Ark cannot be dismissed as having been overtaken by contemporary judicial interpretation or current events. Both the courts and commentators have consistently cited and followed the principles of Wong Kim Ark.(see footnote 14)
Arguing against this great weight of authority, Professors Peter Schuck and Rogers Smith argue for a novel ''reinterpretation'' of the citizenship clause to implement the contrary view that birthright citizenship may be modified by a simple act of legislation.(see footnote 15) Briefly, the authors recommend replacing the ''ascriptive'' approach to citizenshipwhich determines citizenship by an objective circumstance, such as place of birth or citizenship of parents with a ''consensual'' approachwhich makes political membership a product of mutual consent by the polity and the individual. The authors argue that the Fourteenth Amendment may be reinterpreted to allow Congress to deny citizenship to children of illegal aliens by legislation (as opposed to constitutional amendment). As support, the authors attempt to show that the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment intended the reference to ''subject to the jurisdiction'' of the United States to replace the existing ascriptive common law principle with one of express mutual consent.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Schuck and Smith are proposing a change in the law, not a plausible reinterpretation of the Constitution.(see footnote 16) Their theory would require repudiation of the language of the Constitution itself, the clear statements of the framers' intent, and the universal understanding of 19th and 20th century courts. Indeed, the authors themselves concede that there is no judicial precedent in support of their theory.
In short, the text and legislative history of the citizenship clause as well as consistent judicial interpretation make clear that the amendment's purpose was to remove the right of citizenship by birth from transitory political pressures. As the Supreme Court noted in Wong Kim Ark,(see footnote 17) ''[t]he same Congress [that passed the 1866 Act], shortly afterwards, evidently thinking it unwise, and perhaps unsafe, to leave so important a declaration of rights to depend upon an ordinary act of legislation, which might be repealed by any subsequent Congress, framed the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.'' More recently, the Supreme Court noted in Afroyim v. Rusk(see footnote 18) that the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment ''wanted to put citizenship beyond the power of any governmental unit to destroy.'' See also Rogers v. Bellei, 401 U.S. 815, 835 (1971) (recognizing that ''Congress has no 'power, express or implied, to take away an American citizen's citizenship without his assent,' '' where that citizenship is attained by birth). By excluding certain categories of native-born persons from U.S. citizenship, the proposed legislation impermissible rescinds citizenship rights that are guaranteed to those persons by the citizenship clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Such a rescission of constitutionally protected rights is beyond Congress's authority.(see footnote 19)
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The constitutional principle of birthright citizenship flows from some of the deepest wellsprings of American history. From the earliest days of our nation, with the tragic exception of slaves, all those who were born on its soil and subject to the full power of the United States became its citizens. The simple fact of birth here in America was what mattered.
Then came the Supreme Court's monumentally erroneous decision in Dred Scott that no persons of African descent, including free persons of African descent, could ever be citizens of the United States regardless of their birth in America, and our country subsequently plunged into a savage and brutal civil war. In rebuilding our nation after that war, we pledged that we should never again trust to judges or politicians the power to deprive from a class born on our soil the right of citizenship. We rejected the possibility of a permanent caste of aliens, generation after generation born in America but never to be among its citizens. To have citizenship in one's own right, by birth upon this soil, save by one's own renunciation of it, is a foundational principle enshrined in our Constitution.
Today, in 1997, we cannot and should not try to solve the difficult problems illegal immigration poses by denying citizenship to persons whose claim to be recognized as Americans rests on the Constitution and over two hundred years of history. H.R. 7 is unquestionably unconstitutional, and we cannot support it. The Department of Justice stands ready to continue to work with the members of this Committee and others on legislation and oversight to address the problems of illegal immigration in ways that are consistent with the Constitution.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Ms. Johnsen. I just have a couple of questions. The first is, wouldn't you agree that in the Ark case, though, the court, when it referred to aliens, was in this case referring to individuals who were in the country legally, not illegally?
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Ms. JOHNSEN. It's certainly true that the facts of that case involved a particular individual whose parents were residing here not illegally. They were not legally eligible to become citizens themselves, but the Court's reasoningthe important thing is the Court's reasoning in that very lengthy, comprehensive opinionapplies equally to illegal aliens
Mr. SMITH. I think you answered my question. You said they were not in the country illegally, and I just wanted to make that distinction.
Tell me what you think of this Senator Jacob Howard, who was the author of the citizenship clause of the 14th amendment, made this statementI think on the floor of the Senatein regard to the 14th amendment language that he had written, ''This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens.'' Don't you think the clear implication of what he was sayingand this is the person who wrote the languagewas not to include a category of individuals who, say, would be illegal aliens today?
Ms. JOHNSEN. Well, that full quote is ''foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of embassadors or foreign ministers.'' And the transcription of that oral statement must be read to mean persons who both are foreigners or aliens and belong to the families of ambassadors
Mr. SMITH. I have to tell you, I read it to mean the plain meaning of the language or the definition of the words ''foreigners'' and ''aliens.'' To me, it's pretty clear that he did not mean to include, as he, himself, said, the children of illegal aliens, but maybe we simply just disagree on that.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Ms. JOHNSEN. If I could just say
Mr. SMITH. One quick other question, and I'm asking this question at the request of Mr. Bilbray. Has any illegal alien ever been tried for treason that you're aware of?
Ms. JOHNSEN. I am notI do not know the answer to that question and can get back to you, but I do know that the Supreme Court decided the Carlisle case in 1872 in which it discusses that aliens can be, and it didn't distinguish between
Mr. SMITH. I'm told that that case involved a legal.
Ms. JOHNSEN. It didn't make a distinction between legal and illegal. What it did say is that it clearly applies to those whose residence is transitory. So it clearly would apply to those who are not permanent resident aliens if they're here even temporarily. Any alien who is in this country is subject to our laws.
Mr. SMITH. If you can find any case where specifically an illegal alien has been tried for treason, if you'll let the subcommittee know
Ms. JOHNSEN. We will let you know, but I think it's important to look at the reasoning in the cases, not just the specific facts. If the reasoning applies equally to illegal aliens, then it's important to follow that.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
[The information follows:]
After conducting further research in response to your question on behalf of Mr. Bilbray, the Office of Legal Counsel has found no cases in which an illegal alien was prosecuted for treason. Carlisle v. United States, 83 U.S. 147 (1872), which I discussed at the hearing, addressed whether a presidential proclamation granting ''pardon and amnesty for the offence of treason against the United States ... during the ... civil war'' applied to aliens who had assisted the Confederacy and were living in the United States at the outbreak of the war. Id. at 156 (internal quotation marks omitted). Carlisle held that the aliens were within the scope of the pardon because ''all persons ... that are within the territory'' of the United States, even ''strangers ... whose residence is transitory,'' owe the country a duty of temporary allegiance and thus can commit treason. Id. at 154 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). As I explained at the hearing, Carlisle's reasoning does not distinguish among different groups of aliens. All aliens, even those whose residence is transitory, owe allegiance to the country in which they reside simply by virtue of their presence therein.
The State Department expressly embraced a similarly broad view of allegiance with respect to the question of citizenship when, in 1930, it found that a child born on Ellis Island to a woman who had not yet been admitted to the United States under the immigration laws was nonetheless a citizen of the United States. See Memorandum of the Office of the Solicitor for the Department of State on Ona Laszas (Feb. 6, 1930), in Nationality, 3 Hackworth Digest at 10. The Department reasoned that at the time of the child's birth, the mother was on United States territory and subject to United States laws, and that she therefore owed the ''the same 'temporary allegiance' which is required of aliens generally while they are in this country.'' Id. Her child was therefore a citizen of the United States by birth.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Ms. Johnson.
The gentleman from North Carolina is recognized.
Mr. WATT. Ms. Johnsen, how would you go about getting a case before the United States Supreme Court to address directly the issue that Mr. Bilbray says the Court doesn't need to address, I guess? It seems to me that that would be a much clearer and more definitive way to have this issue addressed. Have there been any cases on which cert. has been denied or in which, for whatever reason, they haven't been able to get there? Is it a standing problem? What, whatcan you enlighten us?
Ms. JOHNSEN. Well, I have to say, respectfully, that I think the Supreme Court has, on at least several occasions, squarely addressed the issue here. Although the facts did not involve an illegal alien
Mr. WATT. OK, I agree with you that the Supreme Court has virtually gone where you say, but I'm trying to put this to rest once and for all. I guess it really wouldn't put it to rest because then the next question would be whether you wanted to amend the Constitution, but at least to put the constitutional issue to restwhether the current language in the Constitution addresses the issue. Has there been a case where the facts are such that it would fit all the fact patterns and why has it not been decided?
Ms. JOHNSEN. Two things: The closest case the Court has decided isI think you mentionedPlyler v. Doe, where the Court did say clearly that you cannot draw any plausible distinction between illegal and legal aliens for purposes of interpreting the meaning of ''jurisdiction'' under the 14th amendment.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Second, if Congress were to pass H.R. 7
Mr. WATT. You're avoiding my question.
Ms. JOHNSEN. No, no. I think that
Mr. WATT. Don't avoid my question. I'm just trying to
Ms. JOHNSEN. No, I do not know of any previous attempt on the part of Congressyou know, there has never been an attempt. The problem is
Mr. WATT. No, I'm talking about in litigation. I'm not talking about in Congress. I don't think this issue can be addressed by Congress. I mean, that's where I've started; I think that's probably where I'll end, unless somebody gives me something persuasive. I'm trying to figure out whether there's a way to get a specific case with the exact right facts before the Supreme Court to put at least that issue to rest.
Ms. JOHNSEN. I think the only way to do that, to get a ruling that all would agree applies directly to H.R. 7, would be to enact H.R. 7. I think that would be the wrong thing for Congress to do because I think we already have clear guidance about what the 14th amendment means. But I don't think there is
Mr. WATT. You're saying, in the absence of a statute like H.R. 7, there's no way to get a case
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Ms. JOHNSEN. I don'tI don't think there's a way to get a case that would satisfy supporters of H.R. 7.
Mr. WATT. Why?
Ms. JOHNSEN. Because we have quoted extensively from existing case law that was very, very close and it hasn't been satisfactory to supporters of H.R. 7. If what they want is a case directly on point, it would require actually enacting the statute and having it work its way through the courts. During that period, there would be tremendous uncertainty and harm caused.
Mr. WATT. Do you think a person who is not directly impacted, who obviously would have no vested impact in bringing a case, because theyI mean, anybody else would not have standing to get it
Ms. JOHNSEN. I think there would not be standing to raise this issue, in the absence of someone who has been denied or threatened with a denial of citizenship to which they're constitutionally entitled.
Mr. SMITH. I have one other quick question, if the gentleman will yield to me.
Mr. WATT. I'd be happy to yield.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. And then we've got to hurry along to get to this vote. We will recess after my question for another 15 minutes, come back, and take up the third panel.
I liked your answer that the only way to determine it is to pass the bill and then we'll find out. I really think you're misstating, and I hope not intentionally, the Plyler case. You should know, and I know, that the reference to which you've made was dicta; it wasn't in the opinion. Second of all, the Plyler case dealt with education, not citizenship, andwait a minuteand the third thing about that particular case is it specifically said it was up to Congress to make that determination as far as our immigration laws go. Would you disagree with any of those three?
Ms. JOHNSEN. It certainly is dicta, but it is part of the opinion and the Court's reasoning. In fact, that's something
Mr. SMITH. But dicta doesn't have the
Ms. JOHNSEN. I mean, this doesn't have the weight of a holding. That's certainly true.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Ms. Johnsen. We will resume with the third panel when we return.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. The subcommittee will reconvene and we welcome our third panel. And let me introduce them now. Dr. Edward Erler, California State University at San Bernardino; Pam Slater, chairwoman, San Diego County Board of Supervisors, San Diego, CA; Phil Peters, Alexis de Tocqueville Institute, and Ms. Gwat Bhattacharjie. Is that close enough? Or, if notcorrect? OK.
We welcome you all and look forward to your testimony. And we will begin with Dr. Erler.
STATEMENT OF EDWARD J. ERLER, PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY AT SAN BERNARDINO
Mr. ERLER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
It's my considered opinion that H.R. 7 is fully within the powers of Congress to enact. It think it falls within Congress' power under section 5 of the 14th amendment to define who is within the jurisdiction of the United States. And I believe Congress has exercised its section 5 powers on many occasions, and most recently in the Immigration and Control Act of 1986, where Congress defined some persons who were previously illegal aliens and made them into legal aliens. So I think that this is not something new to Congress. It's been exercised on many previous occasions and should be exercised again.
As it has been mentioned by previous witnesses, there are two requirements of citizenship contained in the 14th amendment: birth or naturalization, and jurisdictionbe within the jurisdiction of the United States. It has also been mentioned that these two different clauses, two separate clauses, have independent weight and they must both be satisfied to satisfy the conditions of citizenship. If it were true that all persons born within the geographical limits of the United States were automatically within the jurisdiction, we would simply render the jurisdiction clause superfluous.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Also, I believe that if the framers of the 14th amendment intended merely to adopt birthright citizenship, as it was known to English common law, they would not have included the jurisdiction clause, because a mere statement that all persons born in the United States are citizens would have implied the common law exceptions for ambassadors and other foreign officers. So I think that the jurisdiction clause means something and I think we can actually determine with some degree of specificity what it means.
Mr. Chairman, you referred earlier to Senator Howard's statement. Senator Howard made this statement on the floor of the Senate in the debate over the 14th amendment. He was the author of the citizenship clause in the 14th amendment. He said this about the jurisdiction clause: ''The word 'jurisdiction,' as here employed, ought to be construed so as to imply full and complete jurisdiction on the part of the United States, coextensive in all respects with the constitutional power of the United States, whether exercised by Congress, by the executive, or by the judicial department; that is to say, the same jurisdiction in extent and quality as applies to every citizen of the United States.''
He also said: ''Every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States. This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States.''
Clearly, the author of the citizenship clause did not intend to count foreigners or aliens and those born to ambassadors or foreign ministers as included within the jurisdiction of the United States. That statement by the author of the citizenship clause, I think, is indisputable and I think that it is clear.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
A point that Congressman Bilbray made in his opening remarks was that it is universally agreed that Indians were not included in the 14th amendment, nor were they made citizens of the United States by virtue of the enactment of the 14th amendment. This was made clear not only in debate in Congress, but in 1870 the Senate Judiciary Committee commissioned a study to be made about the extent of the jurisdiction clause and that committee concluded that Indians were not, in fact, included within the jurisdiction of the United States. Congress has, over the years, passed various pieces of legislation to bring Indians within the jurisdiction of the United States, exercising its section 5 powers under the 14th amendment.
In 1873, the Supreme Court, in the case of Elk v. Wilkins, considered the issue of whether or not an Indian who resided apart from his tribe and had renounced allegiance to his tribe could be considered a citizen of the United States. Basically, the Supreme Court in that case decided that no one can become a citizen of the United States without the consent of the United States. So that self-selected citizenship was not comprehended within the jurisdiction clause of the 14th amendment.
Let me just add one thing and I think it's very important. In 1868, Congress passed what is known as the Expatriation Act. This was a companion piece to the 14th amendment. It was debated by virtually the same Congress that passed the 14th amendment. This bill, the Expatriation Act of 1868, rejected the notion of birthright citizenship. There, Members of Congress said birthright citizenship means fealty to the sovereign forever, indefeasible fealty to the sovereign forever.
I have some interesting quotes here by the Members of that Congress who debated the bill. Senator Howard, again, the author of the citizenship clause in the 14th amendment, supported the expatriation bill and he said that, ''the right of expatriation is inherent and natural in man as man.'' He said that the notion of birthright citizenship was an indefeasible, feudal doctrine of indefeasible allegiance.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Blackstone, of course, had given us a descriptionthe famous British juristhad given us a description of what it means to be subject to birthright citizenship. And he said: ''Natural allegiance is such as is due from all men born within the king's dominions immediately upon their birth. For, immediately upon their birth, they are under the king's protection.... Natural allegiance is therefore a debt of gratitude; which cannot be forfeited, canceled or altered by any change of time, place, or circumstance.'' And that this allegiance to the king was indefeasible. It could never be thrown off. And I submit to you
Mr. SMITH. Dr. Erler, we'll need to move on.
Mr. ERLER. Just one point, and then I'm finished. I submit to you this: that the Framers of this Nation, in the American Revolution, threw off British citizenship. It seems to me to be utterly bizarre to think that in throwing off British citizenship, that indefeasible birthright citizenship, they were adopting or accepting for themselves birthright citizenship. They believed that citizenship was based upon consent. No person could become a citizen without his consent, and by reciprocal force, no person could become a citizen without the consent of the nation. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Erler follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF EDWARD J. ERLER, PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY AT SAN BERNARDINO
It is my considered opinion that Congress has authority under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment to define the jurisdiction of the United States. Indeed, it is my contention that Congress has exercised that power on many occasions, most recently in the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Senator Jacob Howard, the author of the citizenship clause in the Fourteenth Amendment, defined who would fall within the ''jurisdiction of the United States'':
[E]very person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States. This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons. It settles the great question of citizenship and removes all doubt as to what persons are or are not citizens of the United States. This has long been a great desideratum in the jurisprudence and legislation of this country.(see footnote 20)
Clearly, the author of the citizenship clause intended to count ''foreigners,'' ''aliens,'' and those born to ''ambassadors or foreign ministers'' as outside the ''jurisdiction of the United States.'' Senator Howard knew, as his reference to natural law indicates, that the republican basis for citizenship is consent This is the natural law principle of the Declaration of Independence that proclaims that legitimate governments derive ''their just powers from the consent of the governed.''
Senator Lyman Trumbull, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a powerful supporter of die Fourteenth Amendment, remarked on May 30th, 1866, that the jurisdiction clause includes those ''Not owing allegiance to anybody else.... It is only those persons who come completely within our jurisdiction, who are subject to our laws, that we think of making citizens; and there can be no objection to the proposition that such persons should be citizens.''(see footnote 21) This was familiar language. The Civil Rights Act of 1866 had defined citizens of the United States as ''all persons born in the United States, and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed.'' It is universally agreed that the immediate impulse for the passage of the fourteenth amendment was to constitutionalize the Civil Rights Act of 1866. This was an attempt to put the question of citizenship and matters of Federal civil rights beyond the reach of simple congressional majorities. Thus it is clear that the idea of allegiance (''not subject to any foreign power'') was somehow central to understanding the jurisdiction clause of the fourteenth amendment.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Much of the debate about the jurisdiction clause in the Congress centered on the status of Indians. The immediate question was whether the fourteenth amendment would confer citizenship upon the Indians as well as upon the newly freed slaves. The former slaves, of course, had been born in the United States and had always been subject to its jurisdiction. Was the same true of Indians? Indians were surely born in the United States, but were they subject to its jurisdiction in the sense of ''[n]ot owing allegiance to anybody else?'' Senator Trumbull noted that ''[tlhe provision ... that 'all persons born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens' ... means subject to the complete jurisdiction thereof.'' Trumbull proceeded to deny that Indians were ''in any sense subject to the complete jurisdiction of the United States.... We make treaties with them, and therefore they are not subject to our jurisdiction.... It cannot be said of any Indian who owes allegiance, partial allegiance if you please, to some other Government that he is 'subject to the jurisdiction of the United States'.''(see footnote 22)
The author of the citizenship Senator Howard, emphatically agreed with Trumbull's assessment that Indians would not become citizens of the United States as a result of the passage of the fourteenth amendment:
The word ''jurisdiction,'' as here employed, ought to be construed so as to imply a full and complete jurisdiction on the part of the United States, coextensive in all respects with the constitutional power of the United States, whether exercised by Congress, by the executive, or by the judicial department, that is to say, the same jurisdiction in extent and quality as applies to every citizen of the United States now. Certain, gentlemen cannot contend that an Indian belonging to a tribe, although born within the limits of a State, is subject to this full and complete jurisdictions.(see footnote 23)
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Clearly, insofar as Indians owed tribal allegiance they were not within the jurisdiction of the United States, even though there were born within its territorial limits and in many instances subject to its laws. It is important to note here that jurisdiction does not mean simply subject to the laws of the United States. Rather, it refers specifically to political jurisdiction in the sense of allegiance. Aliens in the United States are properly subject to the laws of the United States and the jurisdiction of its courts; but this is not the same as owing allegiance to the United States. Aliens subject to the laws of the United States still owe allegiance to another country and are thus not within the political jurisdiction of the United Statesthe only jurisdiction contemplated by the fourteenth amendment
In 1870, the Senate directed the Judiciary Committee to ''report to the Senate the effect of the fourteenth amendment to the Constitution upon the Indian Tribes of the country, and whether by the provisions thereof the Indians are not citizens of the United States.'' The Committee report noted that ''[t]he inference is irresistible that the amendment was intended to recognize the change in the status of the former slave which had been effected during the war, while it recognizes no change in the status of the Indians. The report's conclusion was unequivocal:
Those who framed the fourteenth amendment, and the Congress which proposed it, as well as the legislatures which adopted it, understood that the Indian tribes were not made citizens, but were excluded by the restricting phrase, ''and subject to the jurisdiction,'' and that such has been the universal understanding of all our public men since the amendment became a part of the Constitution.(see footnote 24)
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Thus it seems to be beyond cavil that the jurisdiction clause of the fourteenth amendment was intended by its framers to have independent force; not all persons born in the geographical limits of the United States are within the jurisdiction of the United States. To be within the jurisdiction of the United States means to be within its political jurisdiction Those who today advocate birth-right citizenship for children of illegal aliens born within the geographical boundaries of the United States believe that the fourteenth amendment extends to these children what the framers of the fourteenth amendment said did not extend to Native Americans.
As the Supreme Court said in Elk v.Wilkins (1884), ''[t]he evident meaning of [the jurisdiction clause] is, not merely subject in some respect or degree to the jurisdiction of the United States, but completely subject to their political jurisdiction and owing them direct and immediate allegiance.... Indians, born within the territorial limits of the United States, members of and owing immediate allegiance to one of the Indian Tribes, an alien though dependent power, although in a geographical sense horn in the United States, are no more 'born in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,' ... than the children of subjects of any foreign government born within the domain of that government; or the children born within the United States, of ambassadors or other public ministers of foreign Nations.''(see footnote 25) In this case, Elk had renounced his tribal allegiance and had lived for some years apart from the tribe. But the Court was adamant that the ascription of citizenship could not be a unilateral or self-selected act ''The alien and dependent condition of the members of the Indian Tribes could not be put off at their own will, without the action or assent of the United States'' signified either by treaty or legislation.(see footnote 26) Neither ''the Indian Tribes'' nor ''individual members of those Tribes,'' no more than ''other foreigners'' can ''become citizens of their own will.''(see footnote 27) It must be emphasized that no individual can be made a citizen against his will or consent. Yet, self-selected citizenship is not enough; it must be ratified by those are already members of the political community. As the Court concluded, the jurisdiction requirement of the fourteenth amendment embodied ''the principle that no one can become a citizen of a nation without its consent.''(see footnote 28)
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The Supreme Court in Elk noted that several congressional acts had been passed subsequent to the fourteenth amendment to bring, various Indian tribes within the jurisdiction of the United States, acts ''which would have been superfluous if they were or might become, without an action of the government, citizens of the United States.''(see footnote 29) In this regard, the Court mentions the ''Act of July 15, 1870,'' extending the jurisdiction of the United States to any member of the Winnebago tribe who desired to become a citizen. A similar act was passed on March 3, 1873, extending jurisdiction to members of the Miami tribe of Kansas. Indeed, this was the method used by congressexercising its section 5 powers to enforce the provisions of the fourteenth amendmentto bring various members of Indian tribes within the jurisdiction of the United States. General legislation was passed in the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 which provided that ''all non-citizen Indians born within the territorial limits of the United States be, and they are hereby, declared to be citizens of the United States.''(see footnote 30) Most recently, the amnesty provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 extended the jurisdiction of the United States to include illegal aliens residing in the United States for a specified period. Thus, Congress has a long history of exercising its section 5 powers to define who falls within the jurisdiction of the United States.
In the case of the children born to aliens illegally in the United States, their citizenship would follow the citizenship of their parents or be determined by the laws of the country in which the parents hold citizenship. The fact that illegal aliens have violated laws of the United States precludes any possibility that they can be properly said to be within the jurisdiction of the United States as the aliens surely have demonstrated that they to not believe themselves to be subject to the laws of the United States, or are only partially subject. Contrary to a currently fashionable argument, the denial of birth-right citizenship to children of illegal aliens does not punish the children for the sins of the parents because the children don't have a right to citizenship in the first place they are being denied nothing that is rightfully theirs. It would, of course, be a different matter for the children born of legal aliens who have been admitted by the laws of the United States. Whether their children would be citizens at birth or upon the attainment of citizenship by the parents would be a matter for Congress to determine.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Congress, of course, has plenary power, under terms of Article L Section 8 of the Constitution, ''to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.'' By necessary inference, Congress has the power to regulate immigration and set the terms by which those who are legally admitted can remain in the country. It certainly can establish the standards for which the contract of citizenship can be offered and the qualifications of those to whom it will be proffered. I believe that Congress is fully competent, under the fourteenth amendment, to pass legislation defining those who are ''subject to the jurisdiction'' of the United States. It does not require a constitutional amendment to withhold citizenship from children born in the United States of illegal alien parents. Their parents are not ''subject to the jurisdiction'' of the United States and they seek citizenship for their children without the consent of the nation. It defies logic to insist that an illegal act on the part of parents can confer the boon of citizenship upon their children. The nation has specified the terms of its consent in the uniform rules for naturalization and laws governing immigration.
The argument for birth-right citizenship is, of course, more suitable to feudalism than it is to republicanism. Under the feudal concept of citizenship, anyone born under the protection of the sovereign owed perpetual allegiance or fealty to the sovereign. It is hardly credible that the framers of the American Constitution would have contemplated a basis for citizenship that had its origins in the feudal regime. Indeed, in basing citizenship on the consent of the governed, the obligations of citizenship were placed on an entirely newand republicanbasis. The Reconstruction Congress recognized this point when it passed the Expatriation Act of 1868. This acta companion piece to the fourteenth amendmentwas an explicit rejection of birth-right citizenship as the ground for American citizenship. It simply declared that ''the right of expatriation is a natural and inherent right of all people, indispensable to the enjoyment of the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.'' Thus the English common law doctrine of birth-right citizenship was decisively rejected as incompatible with the principles of consent embodied in the Declaration of Independence. After all, the Declaration of Independence announced to the world that Americans no longer considered themselves to be British citizens. If Americans held lo the notion of birth-right citizenship, they would have been incapable of declaring their independence from Britain!
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Senator Howard, the author of the fourteens amendments citizenship clause, stated in his support of the Expatriation Act that the principles of the Declaration of Independence necessarily mean that ''the right of expatriation ... is inherent and natural in man as man...''(see footnote 31) The notion of birth-right citizenship was frequently described as an ''indefensible feudal doctrine of indefeasible allegiance.'' One member of the House of Representative gave expression to the general sense of the Congress when he concluded that ''[i]t is high time that feudalism were driven from our shores and eliminated from our law, and now is the time to declare it.''(see footnote 32)
Blackstone had described the allegiance required by the English doctrine of birth-right citizenship in these terms:
Natural allegiance is such as is due from all men born within the king's dominions immediately upon their birth. For, immediately upon their birth, they are under the king's protection.... Natural allegiance is therefore a debt of gratitude; which cannot be forfeited, canceled, or altered, by any change of time, place, or circumstance.... For it is a principle of universal law, that the natural-born subject of one prince cannot by any act of his own, no, not by swearing allegiance to another, put off or discharge his natural allegiance to the former: for this natural allegiance was intrinsic, and primitive, and antecedent to the other, and cannot be divested without the concurrence act of that prince to whom it was first due.(see footnote 33)
The English common law became a part of the American system only insofar as it was consistent with the principles of republican government James Madison wrote that one ''fundamental principle of the revolution'' was the assertion of the competence of American legislatures to pass legislation independently of the common law. In some cases, aspects of the common law were accepted as a matter of convenience, in others it was rejected outright as incompatible with the principles of a free and self-governing nation. Surely the nation of birth-right citizenship, with its requirement of indefeasible allegiance to a king, was one of those aspects of the common that was rejected by the principles of the Declaration of Independence.(see footnote 34)
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Among a host of other considerations, birth-right citizenship denies that the people always retain the natural right to revolution, a right that is the fundamental right of rights described in the Declaration of Independence. As Representative Norman B. Judd remarked on the floor of the House in the debate over the Expatriation Act, ''the English common law was not adopted ... except so far as applicable to our situation and our form of government.... The very origin and nature of our institutions utterly forbid the idea that the doctrine of 'perpetual allegiance' is consistent with our institutions.''(see footnote 35) Representative Judd further specified the precise sense in which the common law doctrine of birth-right citizenship was inconsistent with the principles of ''our institutions:'' ''The right of expatriation is clearly implied as inalienable in the enumeration of rights in the Declaration of Independence, and its obstruction was one of the wrongs charged by the colonies against the English crown.''(see footnote 36) There can be no doubt whatsoever that the fortieth Congress that passed the Expatriation Act believed that it contained a thoroughgoing repudiation of the English common law notion of birth-right citizenship and its attendant requirement of perpetual allegiance. Since this Act was contemporaneous with the adoption of the fourteenth amendment, there can be little doubt that it also embraced the principle of citizenship that was embodied in the amendment. Reciprocal consent is the principle of citizenship embraced in the fourteenth amendment and the Expatriation Act is a confirmation of that principle.
Chief Justice Fuller remained in his dissenting opinion in United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1898), that in the American Revolution ''when the sovereignty of the Crown was thrown off and an independent government established, every rule of the common law and every statute of England obtaining in the colonies, in derogation of the principles on which the new government was founded, was abrogated.''(see footnote 37) It was emphatically the case, Fuller rightly argued, ''that the rule making locality of birth the criterion of citizenship because creating a permanent tie of allegiance, no more survived the American Revolution than the same rule survived the French Revolution.''(see footnote 38) Indeed, the consensual basis of citizenship, so far from creating a permanent and indissoluble allegiance to the sovereign maintains ''the general right of expatriation, to be exercised in subordination to the public interests and subject to regulation.''(see footnote 39)
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The majority decision in Wong Kim Ark failed to make an adequate case for American adoption of the English common law basis of citizenship. Wong Kim Ark's parents were legal residents of the United States but were rendered ineligible for citizenship by both states and treaty; and they still maintained their allegiance to China.
The Court nevertheless heldwrongly in my viewthat Wong Kim Ark, having been born within the territorial limits of the United States, had birth-right citizenship. The majority opinion failed to see that the English common law of birth-right citizenship was not only contrary to the principles of the founding, but had been explicitly rejected by the fourteenth amendment and the Expatriation Act. In any case, there has never been a Supreme Court opinion holding that the children of illegal aliens are entitled to American citizenship by virtue of their birth within the geographical limits of the United States. Jurisdiction is not a geographical concept; it is a matter of political allegiance. Birth-right citizenship has no place in republican government; it is the relic of monarchy and should be recognized as such once again by Congress.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Dr. Erler. Ms. Slater.
STATEMENT OF PAM SLATER, SUPERVISOR, SAN DIEGO COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
Ms. SLATER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am Pam Slater and I'm the third district supervisor for the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. On April 15, I brought a proposal to our board of supervisors asking for support for H.R. 7, sponsored by Congressman Bilbray. I'm pleased to report that our board unanimously supported H.R. 7 and authorized a communication with all county supervisors throughout California. We received quite a significant number of replies and quite a number in affirmative support. Due to the significant number of births by illegal alien mothers in California, and particularly in our county, my colleagues urge you to support H.R. 7.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
We're very concerned about the taxpayers who must pick up the tab of the increasing costs for services rendered to illegal alien parents. San Diego County's taxpayers incur a tremendous financial burden by providing birth assistance to illegal parents. However, medical care is only the beginning. As a U.S. citizen, the child is now eligible to receive Federal and State benefits, collected on his or her behalf by the parents who are here illegally.
Therefore, we've created a catch-22 situation. Adults who are in this country illegally and are not permitted to work, not recognized as legal by our law enforcement agencies or by any branch of government, are appearing at county welfare offices to collect checks on behalf of their children. The parents are using the children to collect benefits and remain in the country. This is a travesty for our country. We have encouraged generations of people to come to the United States not out of loyalty or a sense of belonging, but, instead, for money and benefits.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors believes that granting automatic citizenship to persons born in the United States to parents who have entered the country illegally encourages illegal immigration. An offer of financial support to children born in the United States is far too great a lure. We believe the loophole must be closed. We believe that H.R. 7 is the way to do it.
A poll conducted by the University of California at Berkeley between 1982 and 1987, concluded that 95 percent of women from Tijuana, Mexico, who gave birth in the United States admitted that they did so to gain U.S. citizenship for their child. In most cases, the bill is left to the taxpayers. One-third of MediCal or Medicaid births in San Diego County and two-thirds of MediCal or Medicaid in Los Angeles County are to those illegal parents.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
To reward people who enter our country in defiance of our laws is unjust. And we believe it is a slap in the face to legal immigrants who often wait years to become American citizens and who honor their commitment. In my view, encouraging illegal entry into our country dishonors our long and rich heritage of legal immigration.
For those who doubt the impact, I invite you to come down for a border tour. I'm certain that Supervisor Bilbray would berather, pardon me, he was my former colleagueCongressman Bilbray would be happy to lead a tour. It's very enlightening to see it in person, to see firsthand. And I encourage you to view television transcripts of hospitals in the Chula Vista area to see the number of expectant mothers, who are here, across the border, without sanction, and touring the parking lot so they can go in and deliver their children. I invite you to speak to the hospitals who are suffering under an unmitigatable burden in this regard.
In addition to the birth benefits, here are some more benefits accorded illegal aliens on behalf of their child. They may receive a welfare check on behalf of their child under the AFDC, now called TANAS, welfare benefits for 18 years. They may receive food stamps. They may receive childcare payments and free milk, cheese, and other subsidies. They may receive free education until the child turns 18 years old. Educating 355,000 citizen children of illegal aliens in California cost taxpayers $1.7 billion in fiscal year 199596.
Illegal aliens are eligible to receive housing assistance from the county of San Diego if their child is born in the United States. Assistance is based on one child. If they have more than one child, the assistance increases. Conceivably, recipients can receive assistance for the majority of their lives.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The effect of illegal immigration on San Diego County is devastating. Southern California is a magnet to illegal aliens from Mexico and South America. The State spends more than $230 million in medical bills annually to support approximately 100,000 births by illegal aliens. The strain on our schools, our housing, our social services, and our criminal justice system is enormous.
In 1995, when our last statistics were available, as I mentioned, one out of every three births in San Diego County was paid for by MediCal. This represented $11.5 million to the county of San Diego.
I'll conclude very quickly. Children born to illegal alien mothers constitute the largest caseload increase among welfare applicants in counties across the State. In fact, while our welfare rolls are declining due to welfare reform, benefits for citizen children of illegal alien mothers are on the increase.
I'd like to conclude by saying that I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Watt. I believe that what we need to do is have a Supreme Court review of this issue. And I believe that the best way, the most efficacious way, to achieve this is to have this panel pass this bill and send it on to Congress, urge Congress to pass it, and seek a sponsor in the Senate; get it passed in the Senate, and then start the process of review. Because I believe that Mr. Watt is right: Only in that way will we get the answer that will answer the question of; do we or do we not need a constitutional amendment?
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
[The prepared statement of Ms. Slater follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF PAM SLATER, SUPERVISOR, SAN DIEGO COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
Mr. Chairman and honorable members, I am Pam Slater, Third District Supervisor for the County of San Diego, and I am here in support of Congressman Bilbray's H.R. 7.
On April 15 I brought a proposal to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to ask my colleagues to support House Resolution 7 (H.R. 7) by Congressman Brian Bilbray. H.R. 7 would deny citizenship at birth to children born in the United States of parents who are in this country illegally.
Due to the significant number of births by illegal alien mothers in California and in our county, my colleagues on the Board unanimously supported H.R. 7, good news for taxpayers who must pick up the tab for services received by illegal alien parents. The Board's action also authorized letters to be sent by our Chairman to all California County Boards of Supervisors.
San Diego County taxpayers incur a tremendous financial burden by providing birth assistance to illegal alien mothers.
However, medical care is only the begging. As a United States citizen the child is now eligible to receive federal and state benefits, collected on his or her behalf by the parents.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Therefore, we have created a catch-22. Adults who are in this country illegally and are not permitted to work, not recognized as legal by our law enforcement agencies or by any branch of government, are appearing at county welfare offices to collect checks on behalf of their children.
The parents are using those children to collect benefits and remain in this country.
This is a travesty for the United States. We have encouraged generations of people to come to America not out of loyalty or in search of freedom, but instead, for money and benefits.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors believes that granting automatic citizenship to persons born in the United States to parents who have entered the country illegally, encourages illegal immigration.
An offer of financial support to children born in the United States is far too great a lure. This loophole must be closed.
In a poll conducted by the University of California at Berkeley between 1982 and 1987 concluded that 95 percent of women from Tijuana, Mexico who gave birth in the United States, admitted they did so to gain U.S. citizenship for their child.
In most cases, the bill is left to the taxpayers.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
To reward people who enter our country in the dead of night, in violation of our laws, is unjust. In fact, it is a slap in the face to legal immigrants who often wait years to become American citizens. In my view, encouraging illegal entry into our country dishonors our long and rich heritage of legal immigration.
The effort expended in this pursuit is remarkable: we in San Diego County have been exposed, by our local news media, to scenes of expectant mothers in labor circling hospital parking lots in their cars, waiting until the last possible minute to enter the hospital. The child is delivered soon after the mother is admitted, denying authorities the chance to deport the mother.
Here are some of the benefits accorded illegal aliens on behalf of their child:
The parents may receive a welfare check on behalf of the child, under Aid to Dependent Children. Welfare benefits continue for 18 years.
They may receive food stamps. These benefits also continue for 18 years.
They may receive childcare payments and free milk, cheese and other subsidies.
Free education until the child turns 18 years old. Educating 355,000 citizen children of illegal aliens in California cost taxpayers $1.7 Billion in fiscal year 199596.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Illegal aliens are eligible to receive housing assistance from the county if their child is born in the United States. Assistance is based on one child. For every child born to the couple, the collar value of the voucher increases. With multiple births, the couple may receive housing vouchers for life.
And on behalf of the child the parents may also receive MediCaid, known in California as MediCal. This benefit continues for 18 years.
All this because the parents crossed our border.
The effect of illegal immigration on San Diego County is devastating. Southern California is a magnet to illegal aliens from Mexico and South America.
The state pays out more than $230 million in medical bills annually to support approximately 100,000 births by illegal aliens. That's 100,000 publicly-funded births every year, and climbing.
The strain on our schools, our housing, our hospitals, our social services and our criminal justice system Is enormous.
In 1995 when our last statistics were available, one out of every three births in San Diego County was paid for by Medi-Cal.
This represents an $11.5 million bill to San Diego County taxpayers.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The cost for all services to illegal aliens and their children in San Diego County alone is $64 million annually.
Magnify this cost throughout the State of California and you can see that the impact of children born to illegal aliens is staggering.
Children born to illegal alien mothers constitute the largest caseload increase among welfare applicants in counties across the state. In fact, while our welfare rolls due to welfare reform are on a decline, benefits for citizen children of illegal alien mothers are on the rise.
Denial of automatic citizenship to the children born to illegal aliens would help to stem the tide of illegal immigration.
Today the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution is misinterpreted to confer citizenship upon all persons who are born in the United States. However, the Amendment's original intent was to limit the scope to those who are ''subject to the jurisdiction'' of the United States.
Congress is fully authorized under the Fourteenth Amendment to enact legislation defining who is ''subject to the jurisdiction thereof.''
Clearly, people who are not legal residents are not ''subject to the jurisdiction thereof,'' and therefore their children should not automatically become citizens.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
In fact, the case most often cited to justify precedent for automatically conferring citizenship on the children of illegal aliens, the United States v. Wong Kim Ark ruling of 1898, pertains to parents who were legal residents of the U.S.
The Supreme Court has never ruled on a case involving a child of illegal parents.
This constitutes a class of people ''not subject to the jurisdiction,'' just as diplomats constitute such a classnotably, their children are not granted citizenship upon birth.
I applaud Congressman Brian Bilbray for adopting a common sense approach to managing our borders. H.R. 7 presents an opportunity for the federal government to better manage taxpayer money. Our scarce resources are sorely needed at every level of education, science and technology, business competitiveness, rebuilding our infrastructure, defense and environmental protection.
We must not waste a single dollar, nor should we send a message to the entire world that if you violate America's borders, you will not paywe will.
Now is the time to close this loophole to protect the integrity of our citizens and legal residents, and to stop the hemorrhage of taxpayer dollars caused by those who violate our laws for their own purpose.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Ms. Slater. Mr. Peters.
STATEMENT OF PHILIP PETERS, SENIOR FELLOW, ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE INSTITUTION
Mr. PETERS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm from the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution and one our cochairs, Mr. Chairman, is a former Member of this body, Jack Kemp. He gave me a written statement on this bill, and with your permission I'd like to ask that it be entered into your record.
Mr. SMITH. OK, without objection, it will be made a part of the record.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Kemp follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF JACK KEMP, COCHAIRMAN, ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE INSTITUTION
I appreciate this opportunity to add my comments to the subcommittee's deliberations on H.R. 7, a bill that would deny birthright citizenship to children born in America to illegal immigrant parents.
Today and throughout history, immigrants have brought enormous benefits to America. I believe strongly that our system of legal immigration should be preserved. We must heed the words of Father Hesburgh who said that we must close the back door of illegal immigration in order to keep open the golden door of legal immigration. I also believe that America is entitled to have its laws respected, and those who seek an opportunity to come here should come as legal immigrants, in accordance with our laws.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
In order to combat illegal immigration, H.R. 7 would violate a constitutional right guaranteed by the 14th Amendmentthe guarantee that all children born in America are granted citizenship with equal rights and protections under our laws. This guarantee was put in place to prevent the revival of the Dred Scott decision of 1857, or any other means of excluding a class of Americans from full citizenship.
There are many reasons to reduce illegal immigration and there are many ways to achieve that objective. Violating a constitutional right is not one of those means, and I respectfully urge the subcommittee to reject this approach.
Congress comprehensively addressed the issue of illegal immigration in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 by increasing border enforcement, increasing penalties for alien smuggling, and by making it more difficult for visitors to overstay legal visas and become illegal immigrants. Congressional oversight of the Immigration and Naturalization Service is undoubtedly having a further positive impact on the total effort to stop illegal immigration, and to increase respect for immigration laws.
To my mind, it is doubtful that elimination of birthright citizenship would have a significant impact on illegal immigration, or that it would even touch the fundamental incentive that brings many illegal immigrants to Americathe desire to work and improve their lives.
Beyond its clear violation of the 14th Amendment, passage of H.R. 7 would create a new series of practical problems for citizens and government alike, as native-born Americans would have to prove their parents' citizenship in order to enjoy the rights and privileges of their own citizenship. This in turn would introduce new possibilities for racial and ethnic discrimination.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Lastly, it is absolutely clear that legislative efforts to circumscribe the 14th Amendment would raise a series of doubts and concerns about the bedrock civil rights protections that have been enshrined in our Constitution since the Civil War.
No aspect of today's illegal immigration problem justifies an assault on the 14th Amendment. Everything in our character as Americansregardless of our party affiliation, regardless of where we were bornshould lead us to venerate and preserve the structure of civil rights protections that the struggle and sacrifice of Abraham Lincoln and countless Americans produced a century ago.
Mr. PETERS. Thanks very much. And I thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, for inviting me here today.
I recognize that there are legal and constitutional issues being debated by legal and constitutional scholars. I leave those issues to be debated by them. I'd just like to say that as a citizen who studies immigration and reveres the Constitution, I respectfully offer you the opinion that H.R. 7 is bad policy. And I say that as one who agrees that we need to reduce illegal immigration.
This bill is a very powerful weapon. It's targeted at illegal immigration, but it misfires. It won't deter illegal immigration, but it will damage constitutional and civil rights. To pass it would be to break the fundamental civil rights guarantee of the 14th amendmentthat children born here belong here and have the rights of American citizens, and that there will never be a native-born class of noncitizens that grow up in our country.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
This guarantee is Lincoln's work. The Republican platform of 1864 envisioned it as a means to end the gigantic evil of slavery. And I would argue the 14th amendment's definition of citizenship has been a settled legal issue for over a century because it fits so naturally with the American people's concept of equality and our commitment to equality.
If this bill is passed, those commitments will be cast into doubt. And even if this measure would solve our contemporary problem of illegal immigrationand it won'tI believe that's too high a price to pay.
Mr. Chairman, the last official act of the late Barbara Jordan, who was a member of this committee and a chair of the Commission on Immigration Reform, was to discuss precisely these issues with you in December 1995. Let me recall that in her testimony she talked about the ''kind of perfection'' America has, ''because our founding principle is universalthat we're all created equal, regardless of race, religion, national ancestry.'' She discussed how this principle has progressively led to the enfranchisement throughout our history of citizens who own no land, then to women, and then to blacks. She concluded that, ''to deny birthright citizenship would derail this engine of American liberty.''
So my first argument to you, Mr. Chairman, is that this bill offers a solution that's misdirected and vastly out of proportion to the problem that it addresses. I see no issue in immigration policy today that justifies diluting or casting doubt on a fundamental civil rights guarantee. If we want to address the local costs of illegal immigration now, I believe we should look at possible financial remedies, but not constitutional change.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC My second argument is that the bill won't accomplish its own goal. I don't know of any evidence that a large proportion of illegal immigrants are motivated to enter the United States to bear children as a first step to citizenship. Chairwoman Jordan, in the testimony I just referred to, reported to you that in the 3 years of her Commission's intensive research there were no reports, ''that the vast majority of births to illegal aliens are anything more than a reflection of the large numbers of illegal aliens who are here.''
Thirdly, I would argue that the bill is not needed because there are more appropriate and more targeted solutions already in place and they're taking effect. I'd like to review just a few of them. The new immigration law that is now in effect vastly increases for border enforcement. It provides new penalties for visa overstays and for all the activities that abet illegal immigration. Over a year ago, the administration stopped giving work permits to asylum-seekers awaiting adjudication of their claims. As you know, this blocked a significant route to illegal immigration, and, incidentally, it also made it a better system for people who genuinely need asylum.
Last week, the INS announced that it's going to deploy agents to 13 new offices overseas to combat alien smuggling rings on their own turf. And, perhaps more importantly, the pace of deportations of illegal immigrants is running 35 percent higher this year than last year, which was a record pace. Again, these measures promise to be effective and many are only beginning to be applied, and I believe that they offer one more reason not to change the 14th amendment.
And, finally, Mr. Chairman, I don't believe that H.R. 7 meets the test of practicality. It would cause a new, stateless class of residents to grow up in the United States, the first such class since the children of slaves before the Civil War. If these people, as adults, have accents, they will have to prove their parents' citizenship when they come into contact with their Government. They and Government officials will have new responsibilities to verify the status of, perhaps, their deceased parents. If they commit crimes but are specifically not of the jurisdiction of the United States, then prosecution or deportation might become difficult to conceive. The list of complications here, I think, is as long as a creative lawyer's imagination.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
So, Mr. Chairman, I would conclude that the problem of illegal immigration deserves your attention. It deserves all our attention. But I would respectfully urge the subcommittee to monitor the variety of measures that Congress passed last year and consider ways to adjust those measures if they need to be made more effective, if they're proving ineffective. But this bill is a major step backwards for civil rights; it won't deter illegal immigration, and so I respectfully submit to you that it doesn't deserve your support. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Peters follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF PHILIP PETERS, SENIOR FELLOW, ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE INSTITUTION
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for inviting me to comment on H.R. 7, the Citizenship Reform Act of 1997.
This bill aims to change the meaning of the 14th Amendment so as to deny citizenship to children born in the United States to illegal immigrant parents.
I recognize that there is a legal debate as to whether this bill's purpose is most appropriately accomplished by statute or by Constitutional amendment. I leave that debate to lawyers and constitutional scholars. As a citizen who studies immigration and reveres the Constitution, I respectfully offer you the opinion that H.R. 7 is bad policy.
And I say that as one who agrees that we need to reduce illegal immigration.
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
This bill is a powerful weapon targeted at illegal immigration, but it misfires. It will not deter illegal immigration. Instead, it will damage constitutional and civil rights.
Passage of this bill would break the fundamental civil rights guarantee of the 14th Amendmentthat children born here belong here and have the rights of American citizens, and that there will never again be a native-born class of non-citizens growing up in America.
This guarantee is Lincoln's work. The Republican platform of 1864 envisioned it as a means of ending the gigantic evil of slavery.
I would argue that the 14th Amendment's definition of citizenship has been a settled legal issue for over a century because it fits so naturally with the American people's commitment to equality.
If this bill is passed, the Constitution's commitment to equality will be cast into doubt. Even if this measure would solve our contemporary problem of illegal immigrationand it will notthat is too high a price to pay.
Mr. Chairman, the last official act of the late Barbara Jordan, a former member of this Committee and Chair of the Commission on Immigration Reform, was to discuss precisely these issues with you and your colleagues on December 13, 1995.
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In her testimony, she cited the fundamental American idea ''that governments do not grant rights. We are born with them.'' She talked about the ''kind of perfection'' America has ''because our founding principle is universal: that we are all created equal regardless of race, religion or national ancestry.'' She discussed how this principle has led through our history to the enfranchisement of citizens who owned no land, then women, then blacks. She concluded: ''To deny birthright citizenship would derail this engine of American liberty.''
Based on these civil rights issues, my first argument is that the bill offers a solution that is misdirected, and is vastly out of proportion with the problem it addresses.
I see no issue in immigration policy today that justifies diluting or casting doubt on a fundamental civil rights guarantee. If it is necessary to address the high costs some jurisdictions incur due to concentrations of illegal immigrants, then we should look at possible financial remedies. Constitutional change should not be the first resort.
My second argument is that the bill won't accomplish its own goal.
I know of no evidence that a large proportion of illegal immigrants enter the U.S. to bear children as a first step to citizenship. I am aware of no Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) or Border Patrol report showing high rates of apprehension of pregnant women hiking across our borders. And Chairwoman Jordan reported to you that in three years of the Commission's intensive research, there were no reports ''that the vast majority of births to illegal aliens are anything more than a reflection of the large numbers of illegal aliens who are here. The reason most illegal aliens come to our country boils down to three words: They get jobs.''
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
My third argument is that the bill is not needed because other solutions are in place and need time to work.
Let me review some steps recently taken to reduce illegal immigration.
The new immigration law vastly increases resources for border enforcement; it provides new penalties for visa overstays and for the activities that abet illegal immigration, from alien smuggling to document fraud.
Over a year ago, the Administration stopped giving work permits to asylum seekers awaiting adjudication; this blocked a significant route to illegal immigration.
Last week, the INS announced that it will deploy agents to thirteen new offices overseas to combat alien smuggling rings on their own turf.
And the pace of deportations of illegal immigrants is running 35 percent higher than the record pace of 1996.
These measures promise to be effective, and many are only beginning to be applied. They offer one more reason not to change the 14th Amendment.
Finally, H.R. 7 does not meet the test of practicality.
If this bill goes into effect, a new stateless class of residents will grow up here, the first such class since the children of slaves before the Civil War. If they have accents as adults, these individuals may have to prove their parents citizenship when they come into contact with their government. They and government officials will have new responsibilities to verify the status of deceased parents. If they commit crimes, but are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, prosecution and/or deportation become difficult to conceive. The list of complications is as long as a creative lawyer's imagination.
Page 81 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
And last but not least on the list of practical issues is the certainty that H.R. 7 will be challenged on many grounds, including that it may violate the clearly prescribed means of changing the Constitution enumerated in Article V.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, the problem of illegal immigration deserves your attention. But I would respectfully urge the Subcommittee to monitor the variety of measures Congress passed last year, and to consider ways to adjust these measures if they prove ineffective in practice. This bill is a major step backwards for civil rights, and it will not deter illegal immigration. It does not deserve your support.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Peters.
STATEMENT OF GWAT BHATTACHARJIE, SANTA BARBARA, CA
Ms. BHATTACHARJIE. Mr. Chairman, members of the subcommittee, first I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to address you. It's a singular honor for me to be here. I'm Gwat Bhattacharjie from Santa Barbara, CA. I'm here to address the importance of H.R. 7, Congressman Brian Bilbray's bill, which is an amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1996, that is to deny citizenship at birth to children born in the United States of parents who are not citizens or permanent resident aliens.
Page 82 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am an immigrant, of Chinese ethnicity, born and brought up in Indonesia. I had my later education in Australia. In 1960, after having graduated from the University of Queensland with a B.A. and a diploma in education, I was offered a master's scholarship at the University of Rochester, New York. In Sydney, the consular staff was not receptive toward issuing me an I20, or student visa, despite the fact that I had two sponsors: the University and a Texas A&M professor. I proceeded to New Zealand, where I had a temporary teaching job, and while there was able to obtain an I20 from the U.S. Embassy in Wellington.
While at the University of Rochester, I met my future husband, an Indian physicist who came to the United States as a Fullbright Exchange Fellow after completing his Ph.D. at Delhi University. We were married at the end of 1962 and went west to his next job at Northrop Space Labs. At Northrop's request and sponsorship, my husband's status was changed and we were under so-called docket control for the next 5 years before obtaining permanent resident visas. What docket control means is that you cannot leave the country while you are in that status. You have to stay in the United States.
We applied for citizenship as soon as we became eligible and were sworn in on September 1974. It took 14 years from the time I entered the United States to the granting of citizenship. And may I stress here that there is a tremendous amount of frustration among legal immigrants, as well as, of course, the citizen constituents, about this loophole: this birthright citizenship.
Our citizenship is the most precious right that can be conferred to us. It gives us the right to vote. And my husband and I have voted in every election ever since and I have been a precinct inspector for maybe about 20 years in elections.
Page 83 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I have lived in southern California almost continuously since late 1962. I have seen a dramatic sea change, especially in the demographics of the area, caused by both legal and illegal immigration that is out of control that impacts upon all of us. I am very much for legal immigration, being an immigrant myself, and I recognize the benefits of legal immigration. However, communities are burdened by crime and violence, by overcrowded schools and housing, growth in gangs and drugs, by rising racial tensions and separatist movements, by incessant poverty and maybe a new permanent underclass.
The 14th amendment, which was originally meant to extend citizenship to native-born blacks, is construed as a universal rule of birthright citizenship. Coupled with attendant benefits like AFDC, subsidized housing, et cetera, it has become an irresistible lure to hundreds of thousands of illegal women who give birth in our hospitals. It impacts us, too, in Santa Barbara.
In 1992, over 96,000 babies were born to illegal immigrants at a cost of $230 million to the State of California. Two-thirds of babies born in Los Angeles County, as Ms. Slater mentioned, are to illegal alien mothers. In my county of Santa Barbara, prenatal illegal alien care costs $800,000 and it's $65 million for the whole State last year. That's prenatal, illegal alien care. Many babies qualified and get AFDC immediately. Forty-one percent in San Diego County, for instance, in 1992 qualified for this.
In fiscal year 199495, 193,000 children of illegal immigrants received welfare at a cost of $553 million. They grow up, these children. How about the cost of schooling for these kids? Four of our 10 elementary schools in Santa Barbara city are 90 percent Hispanic, or 66 percent overall, in the entire district. And since 1989, 80 percent of new increased enrollments are of limited-English-proficiency kids.
Page 84 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
These are the costs of importing poverty. The 14th amendment has become the back door to instant citizenship. It is an insult to us who came and waited to come legallyto legitimize and to reward an illegal act. Most countries in the world, including Australia, Norway, Korea, Sweden, Britain, Germany, require one parent at least to be either a citizen or a legal resident. Considering that there are almost 6 billion people in the world and the United States is the premiere destination of most immigrants, we can literally use the slogan ''Go for broke'' and fulfill it. As a Hispanic friend of mine who daily watches the activities of an illegal immigrant family living in subsidized housing across her house says, ''It doesn't pay to be good and law-abiding.'' There's a lot of frustration.
This is neither a Democratic nor a Republican concern. It is an American concern. It's time to trim Santa Claus and make him Uncle Sam again. On behalf of the millions of legal immigrants who are patiently waiting for their turn to immigrate to the United States, I urge you to see that justice is done, and pass H.R. 7 unanimously.
And I have an addendum, with your consent, please.
Mr. SMITH. Would you like to make that part of the record?
Ms. BHATTACHARJIE. Yes, please.
Mr. SMITH. And, without objection, we will.
It's not just California which is being affected; it's the whole of the United States.
Page 85 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
So Congress must act with the times and lead the way. There is a gap, I find as a citizen between what Congress passes and what the executive branch does. We still have 500 Border Patrol agents that are promised to us that have yet come.
I want to remind Ms. Lofgren, if she were here, that the burden is not southern California/northern California; the burden is California's, and in many other States as well.
The issue has not been dealt with before, but it needs to be dealt with now. We need a definition, maybe a clarification, of what the 14th amendment stands for. What is an illegal alien? Does he or she have status or not? I think you need to deal with it.
I know what my status is, but we often refuse to use the word ''illegal alien.'' We go round and round the bush and say all kinds of names, like ''undocumented aliens or citizens.''
[The prepared statement of Ms. Bhattacharjie follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF GWAT BHATTACHARJIE, SANTA BARBARA, CA
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, first I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to address you. It's a singular honor for me to be here. I'm Gwat Bhattacharjie, from Santa Barbara, California. I'm here to address the importance of H.R. 7, Congressman Brian Bilbray's bill which is an amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1996 that is to deny citizenship at birth to children born in the United States of parents who are not citizens or permanent resident aliens.
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I am an immigrant, of Chinese ethnicity, born and brought up in Indonesia. I had my later education in Australia. In 1960, after having graduated from the University of Queensland with a B.A. and a diploma in education, I was offered a Masters scholarship at the University of Rochester, New York. In Sydney the Consular staff was not receptive towards issuing me an I20 or Student Visa, despite the fact that I had two sponsorsthe University and a Texas A&M professor. I proceeded to New Zealand where I had a temporary teaching job and while there, was able to obtain an I20 from the United States Embassy in Wellington.
While at the University of Rochester, I met my future husband, an Indian physicist who came to the United States as a Fullbright Exchange Fellow after completing his Ph.D. at Delhi University. We were married at end of 1962 and went West to his next job at Northrop Space Labs. At Northrop's request and sponsorship, my husband's statuses changed and we were under ''docket control'' for the next five years before obtaining permanent resident visas. We applied for citizenship as soon as we became eligible and were sworn in on September 1974. It took fourteen years from the time I entered the United States to the granting of citizenship. Our citizenship is the most precious right that can be conferred to us which gives us the right to vote. We have voted at every election since.
I have lived in Southern California almost continuously since late 1962. I have seen a dramatic sea changeespecially in the demographics of the area, caused by both legal and illegal remigration that is out of control that impacts upon all of us. Communities are burdened by crime and violence, by overcrowded schools and housing, growth in gangs and drugs, by rising racial tensions and separatist movements, by incessant poverty and maybe a new permanent underclass.
Page 87 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The 14th Amendment which was originally meant to extend citizenship to native-born blacks, is construed as a universal rule of birthright citizenship. Coupled with attendant benefits like AFDC, subsidized housing, etc., it has become an irresistible lure to hundreds of thousands of illegal women who give birth in our hospitals. In 1992 over 96,000 babies were born to illegal immigrants at a cost of $230 million to the state of California. Two-thirds of babies born in Los Angeles County hospitals are to illegals. In my County of Santa Barbara, pre-natal illegal alien care costs $800,000 and it's $65 million for the whole state last year. Many babies qualified and get AFDC immediately (41% in San Diego County in 1992). In fiscal 199495, 193,800 children of illegal immigrants received welfare at a cost of $553 million. How about the cost of schooling for these children? Four of our ten elementary schools in Santa Barbara are 90% Hispanic (66% overall) and since 1989 80% of new increased enrollments have limited English proficiency.
These are the costs of importing poverty. The 14th Amendment has become the back door to instant citizenship, to legitimize and reward an illegal act. Most countries in the world, including Australia, Norway, Korea, Sweden, Britain and Germany require one parent at least to be either a citizen or a legal resident. Considering that there are almost six billion people in the world and the United States is the premier destination of most immigrants, we can literally use the slogan ''Go For Broke!'' As a Hispanic friend of mine who daily watches the activities of an illegal immigrant family living in subsidized housing across her house says.'' It doesn't pay to be good and law-abiding.''
This is neither a Democratic nor a Republican concern. It is an American concern. It's time to trim Santa Claus and make him Uncle Sam again. On behalf of the millions of legal immigrants who are patiently waiting for their turn to emigrate to the United States, I urge you to see that justice is done and pass H.R. 7 unanimously. Thank you.
Page 88 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Ms. Bhattacharjie.
I'm going to recognize the gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Watt, who has to leave because he has another committee meeting that is going on concurrently with ours, and then I'll ask my questions after Mr. Watt.
Mr. WATT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to apologize to these witnesses for not being able to be here to hear the exchange, question and answer exchange. I really needed to have been at this other committee meeting during the testimony, but I wanted to hear the testimony, and I'm going to have to slip out so I can get back in time to hear the next panel, if I can.
Let me, first of all, be clear with Ms. Slater that it is not my position that this bill ought to pass and this ought to be the springboard to Supreme Court review. I have no problem with the Supreme Court reviewing this issue based on the Constitution as it is currently written, if somebody gets a case before the Supreme Court, but I hope nobody leaves here today with the impression that I think passage of this bill would be a justifiable way to get us Supreme Court review. So I want to make sureand I assume you understand that, but it was one of the witnesses who said that one way to get Supreme Court review would be to pass this bill, but I agree with Mr. Peters wholeheartedly; that would be a cost that I would not be willing to bear, as a mechanism for getting us to the Supreme Court.
If somebody wants to get us to the Supreme Court, get a case before the Supreme Court under the Constitution as it's written, I'll be happy, as I always have, even when I've disagreed with the Supreme Court in a number of cases; the Supreme Court is the ultimate arbiter, and if they interpret it one way, then we would have to abide or we would have to amend the Constitution. I would take it amending the Constitution works both ways. I mean, it canyou can take away; you can give it.
Page 89 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The thing I'm a little troubled by is this notion that Congress can just kind of set whatever rules it wants in the context of, you knowand interpret the Constitution so as to accomplish some objective, just because the border is close. The borderthis doesn't have anything to do with where the border is. The borderour Constitution goes all the way to that border, whether you can see it or whether you can't see it. And so my interpretation of this is not going to changeif I was standing, looking at the border, my interpretation would be exactly the same as it is, and I don't think this can be accomplished without a constitutional amendment. And if we want to deal with a constitutional amendment, then we ought to deal with that. At least we would be taking it on directly.
I think if we start, as a Congress, deciding what makes sense and applying that to the Constitution, that we might even get to the point where legal aliens may notbearing childrenmight not be eligible for citizenship. And then maybe we would be drawing a line that people would startwell, now, see, you're flinching, Ms.I'm afraid I can't pronounce your name, but you flinch at that notion. [Laughter.]
Ms. BHATTACHARJIE. Not because of that.
Mr. WATT. Well, I flinch at it, too, but I flinch at it, as much at the notion that you would do that to the children who have done absolutely nothing, of somebody who has even made a decision to come here to benefit their children. You would visit the sins of the parents, if you assume that's a sin, you would visit those sins on the children, who certainly didn't make any judgment that they were going to do anything illegal.
Page 90 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So I justyou know, maybe this is a good time for me to leave, now that I've gotten on my soapbox. [Laughter.]
I promised Mr. Bilbray and the chairman I wasn't going to do that today, and I've tried to restrain myself, but I'm deeply troubled by not only the bill, but by some of the suggestions that have come forward in the testimony.
Ms. BHATTACHARJIE. Begging your pardon, Mr. Watt, it is irrelevant. There should be a definition of ''legal'' and there should be a definition of ''illegal.'' And I don't think it's going to be my
Mr. WATT. Well, the question is, who's going to set it? Is the Congress going to set it or is the U.S. Supreme Court going to interpret the Constitution that I believe has already set it? And I will tell you, if we start setting it, and you get on that slippery slope, there may be some other people who will become vulnerable, too. And those of us who are here and start pulling up the ladder behind us would do well to worry, to take that advice.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Watt.
Let me go to myself and direct my first question to Dr. Erler. Now, Dr. Erler, I found your testimony persuasive, and I also found the words of Senator Howard on the Senate floor during the debate on the 14th amendment to be persuasive as well. I don't know how you can ignore the clear meaning of his words.
Page 91 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
But the question I had for you is: What is the advantage, why should we pursue Mr. Bilbray's bill as opposed to seeking a constitutional amendment? What are the advantages of trying to change the definition by statute rather than by the Constitution?
Mr. ERLER. Well, I'm of the opinion, as I think you probably are, too, that we ought to amend the Constitution as infrequently as we possibly can. In this instance, I think that Congress has complete power under section 5 of the 14th amendment to define jurisdiction, to define who is within the jurisdiction of the United States, and in fact has done so on many, many occasions. And so I think that legislation which could cure this increasing public problem that we have is the preferred step.
Mr. SMITH. OK, thank you, Dr. Erler.
Ms. Slater, both you and Ms. Bhattacharjie mentioned some statistics that I think are also relevant, one being that 16 percent of the births in California apparently are to illegal aliens, and your poll about the 95 percent of the women from Tijuana who were asked why they came saying that they came in order that their children would become U.S. citizens.
Are you awareand this is a little bit of a question that I don't know the answer to, but I've heardthat there is actual advertising done in our neighbor to the south, in Mexico, that actually advertises the benefits of citizenship birth, advertises the Federal benefits that are available if a child is born in the United States to illegal aliens? Are you personally aware of any such advertising or flyers or any kind of communication?
Page 92 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. SLATER. Yes, I am, where they have been forwarded to my office. They also have advertisements on media and on radio, and for a while there were actually bus panels that advertised: Please call this number. It doesn't matter if you're legal or illegal; call this number. And it was in Spanish and in English. Those have been taken down, and they were on both sides of the border.
And advocacy groups frequently advise their clients on how to proceed through the system, and documents that come from advocacy groups reach my office
Mr. SMITH. So you have no doubt that that's an incentive for a lot of individuals who come to the United States to give birth?
Ms. SLATER. I have no doubt.
Mr. SMITH. You also made a point which I thought was good in your citing the cost of various Federal benefits that are provided to individuals with children born in the United States. I think it's good to point out that there are only a limited number of taxpayers' dollars or even Federal dollars, if you look at it from the other direction, and to the extent that we are forced to provide Federal aid to the children of illegal aliens, that means, obviously, there is less aid to the children of U.S. citizens.
Mr. Peters, let me ask you a little bit of a followup of what I did to Ms. Slater, which is to say that, if in fact 16 percent of the births in California are to illegal alien mothers, and if that poll is accurateand I assume there is no reason to believe that it's notthat 95 percent of the women who give birth in San Diego from Tijuana, Mexico, cited as a reason for coming to the United States the citizenship of their child, if born in the United States, doesn't that conflict a little bit with your testimony that the bill would not deter illegal immigration? It seems to me that those polls would indicate that it would do just that.
Page 93 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. PETERS. Well, that's the first I've heard of that poll, and in preparing my testimony, I checked around and looked for exactly that kind of evidence. That's the first time I've seen it, and I would certainly like to look into that.
My view, Mr. Chairman, is that if there are costs that border communities especially incur due to illegal immigration, that we should consider financial remedies for those, and that a constitutional remedy is not the way to go; that the cost in terms of civil rights policy, the cost in terms of the perception that civil rights guarantees are eroding, is not worth it.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Peters, let me follow up from another angle.
Mr. PETERS. Yes.
Mr. SMITH. And that is, you mentioned in your testimony, the last part of your testimony, the three things that we could do to reduce illegal immigration, one of them being strengthen last year's immigration bill. Is the Tocqueville Institution opposed to illegal immigration? Would they like to see zero illegal immigration?
Mr. PETERS. I'm speaking for myself here, Mr. Chairman. I don't support illegal immigration. The Congress
Mr. SMITH. I just want to makeI'm not challenging that; I just want to make that clear.
Page 94 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PETERS. The list of measures that I cited, which, as you know, are a partial list of the things that that law did
Mr. SMITH. Right.
Mr. PETERS [continuing]. To deter illegal immigration, I support what I cited there.
Mr. SMITH. If my colleagues to the right will allow me, I'm going to ask one more question to Ms. Bhattacharjie. Ms. Bhattacharjie, in your testimony when you said that you would be insultedit is insulting to legal immigrants to continue to allow children born to illegal aliens to become citizens, what did you mean by ''insulting to legal immigrants?'' Would you expand on that?
Ms. BHATTACHARJIE. Mr. Chairman, it took me 14 years to be a citizen, and that was because of my own free will. I became a resident of this country, and if you live, reside, in a country and you enjoy the benefits, you should also accept the responsibilities of citizenship. One of the carrots that we have is the right to vote. It's very important.
It's insulting because we had to go through a lot of rigmarole in order to be eligible and to come here. I wasn't issued an I20 visa automatically, although I had a reason to come here. In fact, one of the things that they said was, ''Why don't you continue your education in Australia?'' And I said, ''Well, the scholarship that was offered to me was not from an Australian university, but from an American university.'' I must stress at that time that my own country was in a precarious political condition because Indonesia under Sukarno, President Sukarno, was aligned towardalthough we carried out a nonalignment policy, was very friendly toward Communist China. And so my parents were advising me not to go home, and one way out, was to come here.
Page 95 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
But, despite the fact that I had to go through some difficulty in getting an I20 visa, that was just part of the beginning. I have many friends who have found it even much more difficult than what I have gone through. I thought mine was not a dramatic case of how difficult it was to come here. And I think it's an insult to us who came here legally to find that the difficulties that we had confronted were nothing.
Mr. SMITH. I think that answers my question. Thank you, Ms. Bhattacharjie.
I'm going to go and yield to the gentleman from Indiana, Mr. Pease.
Mr. PEASE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I was going to focus most of my questioning on the constitutional and legal side of this, because philosophically I'm already sympathetic to the problem that's being addressed here. But, having said that, my first question is actually on the policy rather than on the constitutional argument, and that goes to Mr. Peters.
We heard from Ms. Slater of her direct observation, and then the poll information, of women who specifically came here to have children. And, yet, your testimony is that this kind of legislation won't deter that from happening. What's your basis for that assertion?
Mr. PETERS. Well, as I began to discuss with the chairman, sir, that's the first I've heard of that poll. I've checkedI don't know of any INS report or any Border Patrol report or any scholarly study that indicates that the motivation for illegal immigrants to come here is primarily to bear children, and then through that, to gain citizenship. As I mentioned, the Jordan Commission in 3 years of work got no information to that effect. So that's the basis of my statement.
Page 96 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Peters, I'd have to point out, having read that Commission report, I don't think they ever asked or pursued that line of questioning. In other words, I don't think they made a statement one way or the other. I wouldn't want you to imply that they looked and didn't find any evidence.
Mr. PETERS. Well, I'm saying that, in their information-gathering, nothing came to them, nothing was presented to them
Mr. SMITH. Well, if you don't ask the question, you're not going to get the answer.
Mr. PETERS [continuing]. They found nothing on that score.
Mr. SMITH. I apologize for interrupting, Mr. Pease, but I just wanted to make sure that that was clear.
Mr. PEASE. Well, I understand your statement, your allegation, that there isn't any data, other than this poll and the personal observations of Ms. Slater and perhaps others, but I still don't understand why you believe that this would not stop those peopleor at least deter those peoplewho come here specifically for that reason, if not for other reasons that people immigrate here illegally.
Mr. PETERS. Well, my belief, based on what I've seen and what I have not seen in the research that's been done in this area, is that the proportion is very small, and that if there are people who come here precisely for that reason, exclusively for that reason, then, yes, this would deter them, but that the costs, which I enumerated elsewhere in my statement, do not justify that measure.
Page 97 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. PEASE. And those costs are? You believe that it's an abuse of a reading of the Constitution; that's the cost you're talking about?
Mr. PETERS. Yes, yes.
Mr. PEASE. And so you wouldI don't want to put words in your mouth, but I understand you to be saying that the wording, as you read it in the Constitution, is an absolute statement that any child who's born here is an American citizen?
Mr. PETERS. Yes. That children born here that are not in those categories that were enumerated, the tribes and Native Americans or children of diplomats
Mr. PEASE. And why are those different then, if it's an absolute reading of the Constitution
Mr. PETERS. They're specifically excluded.
Mr. PEASE. Not in the Constitution, which is what you're relying on.
Mr. PETERS. I'm sorry?
Mr. PEASE. Not in the Constitution on which you're relying.
Page 98 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. PETERS. What I'magain, the interpretation has been for all these years that children born here have the right of citizenship, according to the 14th amendment, and the 14th amendment was created to prevent that a specific class of people would grow here without the rights of citizenship.
Mr. PEASE. I guess I'm not disagreeingapparently, you're misinterpretingI'm not disagreeing with your observation. I guess what I'm getting at is that it appears that even your statement is that there's an interpretation of the 14th amendment at work here, and it has interpreted not to deal with Native Americans, not to deal with children of diplomats who are born here, not considered American citizens, rather than an absolute prohibition. And so it would seem to me, if one can argue that there it has been interpreted through the years to exclude certain classes, and has not addressed the class that we're discussing today, that that issue is still open for consideration; there is not an absolute prohibition.
Mr. PETERS. Right. Well, then we could go back to the Wong Kim Ark case, which I will not do. Maybe I should clarify, Mr. Pease. There are means of amending the Constitution, and legislation can be brought to bear on interpretation of the Constitution. I don't question that those measures are available to the Congress. You're legislators; that's what you're here forto consider these problems and what remedies apply. I don't think thatI don't believe that it's a policy that will be effective or one that is justified in terms of the costs and benefits that are in front of us. But if I was implying to you that Congress has no right to address this issue, that's not what I meant to say.
Page 99 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. PEASE. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Pease.
We'll go to the next panel, but before we do, I'd like to thank all of you for your contributions, and also point out that I realize that three of youDr. Erler, Ms. Slater, and Ms. Bhattacharjieall came from California on short notice, and we appreciate your taking the time and the effort to do so. So thank you all.
Ms. Slater, a final request here?
Ms. SLATER. Just a finalI'm sorry to interrupt you, but I just wanted to make one statement because it seems to have gotten confused. I don't believe that what is before you today is a proposal for a constitutional amendment. I believe what is before you today is a proposed amendment to the Immigration and Naturalization Act
Mr. SMITH. That's correct.
Ms. SLATER. and it's a clarification of the existing language of the 14th amendment, and I believe that Dr. Erler's very excellent and scholarly treatise which I read last night on the plane, fully elucidates a number of the concerns that were brought forward by Mr. Watt and others.
Mr. SMITH. Ms. Slater, that is a good pointthat we are not trying to amend the Constitution; we are trying to amend the statute. I appreciate that.
Page 100 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Thank you all again.
On the first panel for this hearing on H.R. 1428, Citizenship Reform Act of 1997, we have our colleague, Congressman Steve Horn from California.
Steve, we welcome you.
[Mr. Smith uses the gavel.]
Mr. SMITH. Let me quiet the crowd here.
[The bill, H.R. 1428, follows:]
INSERT OFFSET RING FOLIOS 4 TO 12 HERE
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Horn, thank you for your patience. I know you've been waiting around for several hours, but we do, therefore, value your testimony even more. Please proceed.
STATEMENT OF HON. STEPHEN HORN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. HORN. Well, I thank you, Mr. Chairman. You've been a real leader in this field.
Page 101 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
This is a proposal called the Voter Eligibility Verification Act because it would empower local election officialsand that would include State officials who are chief election officersto be able to make inquiries with the Social Security Administration data base, where they have been keeping track of citizenship since 1982, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service data base, where they have the alien file and updated when one is naturalized and becomes a citizen.
There's no mandate on State or local governments to use either one of these data bases, but if they would like to do it in order to implement the bill that you authored and has become law in the last Congress, they need the authority to come and deal with a data base that is kept up to date as best it can be. And this would authorize them, then, to access that. It requires the update, as I've mentioned. It has extensive restrictions on any misuse of the verification process to prevent discrimination, violations of privacy. And if people are not verified by those two systems, then the opportunity is with the potential citizen and the potential voter to provide proof of registration and citizenship, proof of citizenship, to the registrarsand whether that's a family bible, or whatever document they can get, a birth record, so forth.
And, as I mentioned, last year your Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act made it explicitly illegal for noncitizens to vote and made voting by noncitizens a deportable offense. But without having any way to verify registrants' eligibility to vote, State and local officials can't do anything, frankly, to enforce that law. That was our problem with Simpson-Mazzoli. It was great law. A lot was accomplished, but there was no enforcement mechanism. And it's been far too easy to register to vote since the Motor Voter vote. As a political scientist, I'm all for getting as many people on the rolls as you can, but I think we would all agreeand I don't know anybody I've ever met in public office that disagreedthat one should be a qualified citizen to vote.
Page 102 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
And when you have, as I had in my district, the assassin of the Mexican presidential candidate registered to vote twice in Los Angeles County, where my district is locatednow he never did vote, but he registered to vote twice, and then, of course, freely crossed the border, since it's a sieve. And of course that, just as an aside, Mr. Chairman, I would think everybody east of Californiaand since we'll include Texas now, east of the Mississippiought to realize that when they don't help us grapple with the illegal alien problem, they're simply going to lose seats to us every census. We gained seven last time. We'll gain another five to seven, unless people start helping us deal with what is not a Southeast problem, not a Southwest problem; it's increasingly an American problem.
And we are not interested in trying to stifle immigrants who have naturalized; we just simply want the records classified. My father was a naturalized immigrant, and there is a process, and we should follow that process.
I listened to some of the earlier testimony, and I think of friends of mine who are Filipino, who are from India; they've been sitting in line legally to wait for years, and it's just simply unfair that 49 other countries can get into the United States from either land or sea, nor through Southeast or West, and people that want to be good citizens and come here and have made a great contribution, when they do come here, are sitting there stalled by the legal process, whereas if they took the illegal process, in one night they could be in the United States, but they'd have difficultyor they should have difficultytaking that route to become a citizen.
So I think the legislation strikes a vitally-needed balance in this area. I think, as I mentioned earlier, the privacy and antidiscrimination language in here ought to stop any misuse of those data.
Page 103 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
So I'd like to respond to questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Horn follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. STEPHEN HORN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Chairman Smith and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to testify and for 'considering H.R. 1428, the Voter Eligibility Verification Act of 1997. This bipartisan bill will improve the integrity of the vote and increase the voters' confidence in our electoral system.
Under the bill, local election officials would be able to make inquiries with the Social Security Administration and the Immigration and Naturalization Service to verify the citizenship of people who have submitted a voter registration application at the local level. Both agencies are involved because neither has a comprehensive record of all current citizens. The Social Security Administration has been collecting citizenship status information from people applying for Social Security numbers since 1982. The INS maintains computerized naturalization records dating from 1975.
There is no mandate on state or local governments to use the proposed verification process. It is simply a tool available to them should they choose to use it.
The bill also makes clear that state and local governments may require the Social Security number as part of the voter registration process. According to the Congressional Research Service, 27 states currently ask for the Social Security number on their voter registration forms.
Page 104 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The bill requires the verification process to be as reliable and easy to use as possible, so long as privacy and information security are protected. Election officials would be able to make inquiries through a toll-free telephone call or other toll-free electronic media.
The bill also requires Social Security and INS to update their information to make it as accurate as possible, and to set up a process for prompt correction of erroneous information.
Extensive restrictions would be included on the use of the verification process to prevent discrimination and violations of privacy. The agencies will respond only if the inquiry is necessary for determining eligibility to vote. The verification process in the bill is to be designed and operated with administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to prevent unauthorized disclosure of personal information, and safeguards against discrimination, including the selective or unauthorized use of the verification process. The bill requires the verification process to be ''uniform, nondiscriminatory, and in compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.'' It explicitly does not authorize a ''national ID card'' or the creation of a new database.
Finally, people whose citizenship status cannot be confirmed by the process proposed in the bill would have the opportunity to provide to local registrars of voters proof of their citizenship, such as a U.S. birth certificate or naturalization certificate.
Last year, the 104th Congress passed the historic Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which made it explicitly illegal for noncitizens to vote and made voting by noncitizens a deportable offense. But without having a way to verify registrants' eligibility to vote, state and local election officials can do little to enforce that law effectively.
Page 105 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
It is far too easy in many jurisdictions to register to vote fraudulently. Last October, California Secretary of State Bill Jones dropped 727 people from the voter rolls after they completed voter registration forms which indicated that they were not citizens. Secretary Jones has endorsed this bill, and I would like to place his endorsement letter in the Record.
In another startling case, in 1994, it was discovered that the assassin of Mexican presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio had registered to vote in Los Angeles County twice, despite the fact that he was not a U.S. citizen. ''He thought that would help him become a citizen,'' the assassin's father said, according to the Los Angeles Times (March 30, 1994, page B3). During a primary race for the State Assembly in 1996 in California's San Fernando Valley, 18 people were stricken from the voter rolls after they admitted to the county registrar-recorder that they were not citizens. After conducting a computer check of 400 registered voters in a Dallas, Texas, ZIP code, the INS recently found five potential noncitizen voters.
Unscrupulous campaign workers can also take advantage of unsuspecting immigrants who may know little about the details of American elections. According to Texas Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Tom Harrison, 750 resident aliens from Guadalupe, Texas, filed applications for ballots by mail for the November 1994 election after campaign workers told them that their green cards enabled them to vote by mail.
Given these and other incidents, many Americans have legitimate concerns about the ability of noncitizens to register and vote. The controversy surrounding the INS' Citizenship USA program, which rushed naturalization procedures last year, and the activities of so-called ''bounty hunters'' who are paid for registering voters are an attack on the sanctity of the vote and the integrity of the institution of citizenship.
Page 106 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The Voter Eligibility Verification Act is not an attempt to stifle voting by immigrants who have naturalized. The only turnout this bill will hurt is the turnout of fraudulent votes. The legislation strikes a vitally needed balance between protecting our elections from fraud and the right of every citizen to vote. Without effective measures to prevent voter fraud, Americans' confidence in their government will continue to erode. No citizen's vote should ever be canceled out by an illegal vote. If we allow the poison of election fraud to remain in our system, more and more Americans will believe that their votes do not count, and that the voices do not matter in their government. It is our responsibility to make sure that does not happen. A first step would be to give the people who administer our elections access to the information they need to ensure the integrity of the ballot box. That is what the Voter Eligibility Verification Act is all about. I am delighted to see the Subcommittee on Immigration consider it today.
Hon. STEVE HORN,
|Secretary of State, State of California,|
|Sacramento, CA, April 3, 1997.|
Cannon House Office Building,
DEAR CONGRESSMAN HORN: I am writing to express my strong support of your proposed legislation to permit elections officials to have access to INS information.
As you know, I have set as my goal as Secretary of State 100% voter participation and zero tolerance for fraud. In the last two and a half years my office has moved aggressively towards both of these goals.
Page 107 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
In regards to voter participation, I have established an aggressive and comprehensive outreach program via television, radio, signs on buses, printed messages on bank ATM receipts, grocery bags, La Opinion newspaper, and billboards, and a variety of other programs within the public and private sector.
My election reforms include a statewide voter file (CalVoter) to clean duplicate and deadwood voter records off our lists; a place on the voter registration form to provide a driver's license number as a unique identifier; the first ever cross-county check for double voters; a crackdown on bounty hunters, to name just a few. I am working hard to send a message of deterrence to any who would abuse our elections system in any way.
However, there are still some reforms uncompleted that are critical to the future integrity of California's election system. Number one is the issue of citizenship. The federal NVRA,(see footnote 40) and California election law clearly state that only those persons who are United States citizens are eligible to register and vote in elections. Unfortunately, we have very limited tools to be able to verify or check if a voter is a citizen.
Your bill, which would provide for access to records residing with the Immigration and Naturalization Service would materially benefit election officials in our efforts to maintain the integrity of the voter file. Please feel free to contact my office for assistance in securing passage of this most important measure.
Page 108 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
|Secretary of State.|
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Horn, thank you for your testimony. And like you, I do see a need to at least make sure that those who are not qualified to vote should not vote.
Later on today, we will hear from witnesses from the administration who will make several charges against your bill that I wanted to ask you to respond to. One is that it would result, perhaps inadvertently, in discrimination. Can you reassure us that that's not the case?
Mr. HORN. A very simple way to solve that, in the age of computers, you can run the whole registration tape against the indices, and let's find out, and you don't have to go looking for Polish names or, in my case, Bavarian names or Hispanic names, or whatever. That immigration knows no bounds. Students come over here on visas. They fold into our society, and they're found maybe 20 years later. But just simply run the whole tape then. Take about 2 minutes with a decent computer and see what happens.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Horn, speaking of computers, it's sometimes alleged that the resources of the Social Security Administration and the INS, and the data that they collect, are not adequate to determine whether someone is eligible to vote or not. What can we do about that problem?
Page 109 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HORN. Well, with Social Security, you obviously have a Social Security number, and as I say, they've only collected the citizenship data since 1982. In the case of the records in INS, you're right, they have had some major problems in computing, and my committee, Subcommittee on Government Management, has looked at a number of things in INS. I'm hoping, with the President's latest appointment, they will get the first Commissioner they've had that has had vast management experience, and that's what's wrong with both the INS, the IRS, the Department of Defense. I'm sorry, I meant that with IRS, but the principle is the same. Those are the agencies, because of the heavy computerization, they need people in there who are not just experts in law, not just experts, in the case of IRS, accounting; in the case of Immigration, it would be primarily immigration lawthey need somebody that has run a large, complex organization, and INS is just that; it is large and complex.
Mr. SMITH. Right.
Mr. HORN. And I think the best thing we can do is make sure that you have the right people there, and now we've mandated chief information officers in all these departments and agencies. That will help us deal with the technology aspect. And there's no question, there's a lot of parts of the Federal Government that need Congress' help in modernizing technology.
But this is not an added cost; this is simply using existing data bases that already are regularly used.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Horn, as I understand it, basically, you've got the Social Security Administration with one type of data; you've got the INS with a different type of data. If you merge the two together, can you not get most, if not all, the information?
Page 110 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. HORN. Well, you can merge the two because the data that is similarname, birth place, address, a series of things like thatif you fail to have a number that would get you into that data base
Mr. SMITH. So the technology exists to do that?
Mr. HORN. Absolutely. Those computers do talk to each other between the agencies.
Mr. SMITH. Whether you access it individually or as a combination?
Mr. HORN. That's right.
Mr. SMITH. I anticipate testimony that we're going to get from a witness from the Social Security Administration in a minute, includes a statement that prior to 1981, would not be adequate for our purposes.
Mr. HORN. Well, all this bill says is you do the best you can, and if it doesn't work, then you ask for other possible courses to prove citizenship.
Mr. SMITH. OK. Mr. Horn, thank you. You've answered all my questions.
Page 111 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The gentleman from North Carolina, Mr. Watt.
Mr. WATT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I apologize to Mr. Horn for missing the first part of this testimony and welcome him here as a witness.
It seems to me that this bill would create a tremendous administrative nightmare, and I may be understating it. And as I recall, we had a hearing several weeks ago, Mr. Chairman, where the Social Security Administration came over and one of the things they said was, look, we assign Social Security numbers to children younger and younger and younger. You know, Social Security numbers never were intended for the kinds of purposes that some people are now trying to use them. We don't try to make any assessment of whether the person is or is not a citizen. I meanis my time up already? That's a fast count.
Mr. SMITH. Go ahead. [Laughter.]
Mr. WATT. I thought I was talking slower and slower in my old age.
Mr. SMITH. Yes, that's what I thought, too. We apologize. You'll have a full 5 minutes here. [Laughter.]
Mr. WATT. What about all those people, women in particular, who start off with a Social Security number and change their name? I mean, this is justI can't imagine people advocating for small government who would support this. This isI mean, it would take eons of firepower and money to enforce this or do this.
Page 112 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. HORN. That's simply not true. They make hundreds of thousands of verifications and checks every month, millions probably. I mean, this is the age of computers, where if you have the access code, you can access the system in certain areas. And, obviously, the Attorney General is empowered to be the arbiter of both Social Security and the Immigration and Naturalization Service in terms of their access to either data base. Now Social Security has been saying for years that the original law did not intend for any number to be used for anything but Social Security, and that's true
Mr. WATT. Let me ask a question in
Mr. HORN [continuing]. But we all use it. Every university in America practically uses it. We have tens of thousands of student loans that use that as the identifier. So it is not new to use the Social Security data base.
Mr. WATT. Let me ask the question in a form that I presume my colleagues will be able to relate to. Has anybody asked the CBO to score what it would cost to do this?
Mr. HORN. We have asked them, and we have not gotten this back yet. Yes, we've asked them.
Mr. WATT. All right, well, at least you've asked them, and we'll get that information. I can't imagine that this won't cost an arm and a leg.
Page 113 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HORN. Well, you've got to ask
Mr. WATT. You know, we'll get that information.
Mr. HORN. OK.
Mr. WATT. That will at least satisfy one of the concerns I have.
Mr. HORN. Let's say it costs a million dollars or more or $10 million
Mr. WATT. A million dollars? I think that's a drop in the bucket
Mr. HORN. Yes
Mr. WATT [continuing]. To do this. I don't think that
Mr. HORN [continuing]. But I would say to that: so what? Isn't it important that the eligibility rolls of the United States of America at all levels of government ought to have citizens voting, not noncitizens?
Mr. WATT. Well, it's important that people who are not citizens be not allowed to vote; I agree with that. And if I thought it were a major problem, maybe it would be worth it; I don't know. But to do this all across America, just to identify what might turn out to be a thousand or 2,000 or maybe 5,000 people who are voting who ought not be allowed to vote seems to me to beyou know, wasn't it you all that said we ought to do some cost-benefit analysis of all of this stuff that we were proposing? I mean, give me a break. There's got to be some point at which we decide that it ain't worth paying the money for, if it costs so much and benefitsand, you know, it might kick out 2,000 or 3,000 people all across the country.
Page 114 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. HORN. Well, Mr. Watt, all I can say is, I won my primary by one-fifth of a vote per precinct. And I go to civics classes every day I'm in the district, and I talk about the importance of their one vote. Don't go play bowling
Mr. WATT. Let me just tell you, I would much prefer to spend that money doing a better job of keeping illegal people out of the country than to spend it in the way you're proposing to do it. You know
Mr. HORN. Well, you're saying, if you got over the border and made it here, just great, you've made it; don't worry; we'll never deport you.
Mr. WATT. No, I'm not saying that, and I think you're unfair. I mean, I don't think any of us are saying that. We never have said that, and we never will as a country. I'm saying that there are reasonable limits that you go to to ensure the integrity of the voting system and there are unreasonable limits that you can go to, and it seems to me that this is beyond the pale. That's all I'm saying.
Mr. HORN. This is the simplest
Mr. WATT. You know, I'm not saying that
Mr. HORN. I would say to the gentleman
Mr. WATT [continuing]. We should turn our head and look the other way if somebody walks in the door that we know is not eligible to vote. I mean, that is not what I'm saying.
Page 115 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. HORN. Yes, I would say to the gentleman that this is the simplest check you can make in the world. And if Social Security or Justice come in herebecause my staff has met with Justice; they didn't have an idea in their head. We asked them if they had any alternatives. They don't. They don't want to. Some of it is politically-driven, I would say to the gentleman.
Mr. WATT. Well, I mean, I presume the country seems to be moving to the right. The political benefit of this at one point or another is going to benefit one party or another. I mean, you know, I justso I don't look at this politically. I mean, I assure you that when it starts benefiting the Republican Party, I'm not going to get on the other side of this issue. I tell you that.
Mr. HORN. See, this doesn't have a thing to do with benefiting the party, because if illegals keep coming in from Canada, attempting to come in from Chinawe've headed all of that off through the Coast Guard, I'm pretty surecoming in from our Southern border, that is just going to give California/Texas more congressional seats, and you're going to have
Mr. WATT. I'm not troubled by that.
Mr. HORN [continuing]. A couple of your seats leave, just as they did last time.
Mr. WATT. I'm really not troubled by that, Mr. Horn.
Page 116 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. HORN. Think about that.
Mr. WATT. If the census justifies that, then I think that's
Mr. HORN. Even with illegals? Suppose we're half illegal in California, which we might be at current trends, 2,000 a night. One-and-two-thirds congressional districts created every year. Think about it. We stay at 435. You, North Carolina, will be down to one seat; South Carolina will be down to one seat, and they'll all be in California and Texas.
Mr. WATT. I understand. We just did a study on this, and we ended up with what, 721 people who voted illegally in Orange County under your theory, some of them still even up in the air? I mean, I justhey, it might be a good idea. I'm just telling you what my reservations are. I just think this runs in the face of what I understood you all were trying to do, was create some cost-effectiveness in government, and I justwell, my time is up.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Watt. I was getting worried there, when you mentioned the census, that we were going to go off on that.
Mr. Horn, thank you for being here.
Mr. HORN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Page 117 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. You are welcome to sit up here with us and listen to the next panel, if you'd like to.
Mr. HORN. OK. Thank you very much.
Mr. SMITH. We will go to the second panel now, which consists of David Ogden, Associate Deputy Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, and Sandy Crank, Associate Commissioner for Policy and Planning, Social Security Administration.
And, Mr. Ogden, we will begin with you.
STATEMENT OF DAVID W. OGDEN, ASSOCIATE DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Mr. OGDEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman and members of the Immigration Subcommittee, my name is David Ogden, Associate Deputy Attorney General, and I appreciate your inviting the Department to testify on H.R. 1428, a bill that would establish a Federal verification system on the citizenship eligibility requirement for voting in local, State, and Federal elections.
While the Department recognizes the importance of protecting the integrity of elections, we strongly oppose the legislation. Under H.R. 1428, the Attorney General and the Commissioner of Social Security would establish a system through which local registrars and State election officials could seek to verify whether a newly or currently registered voter is a U.S. citizen. Those persons whose U.S. citizenship status could not be verified through Social Security records would be subject to a secondary verification process by the INS. Election officials could reject a registration application or grant provisional voting status to persons who did not have citizenship confirmed by this process, subject to their being required to produce satisfactory proof of citizenship.
Page 118 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The goal of ensuring the integrity of elections is, of course, laudable, and it's one that we support strongly. But H.R. 1428 is simply impractical because it would be dependent upon data systems that were not suited for this purpose, were not set up for this purpose, and would likely raise discriminatory or simply practical barriers to the right to vote for many qualified U.S. citizens, particularly for minority voters. Because the INS is already cooperating with local authorities to the extent practicable and permitted by law on such matters, the bill is also unnecessary, and I want to turn to that point first.
Already State and local election officials have unprecedented access to INS records for these purposes in appropriate circumstances. INS began working in December last year with the district attorney of Orange County, CA, to assist his inquiry on possible illegal voting by noncitizens in the November 1996 election. The Department and the INS have been engaged in productive meetings and discussions with the California secretary of State regarding registered voters in the 46th Congressional District in California and, indeed, in all of Orange County. In fact, the Department and California have now agreed upon a detailed memorandum of understanding governing future requests for INS data and assistance in this area.
INS is also responding to the House Oversight Committee on this subject. On May 21 of this year, INS produced approximately 504,000 names from INS data bases that match the last names and dates of birth of Orange County registrants. Subsequently, INS identified more than 4,000 names after comparing to its data bases a list provided by the secretary of State of California containing registered voters by first name, surname, and date of birth, in order to identify noncitizens who may have registered to vote before or without having naturalized.
Page 119 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Duplication and error that result from conducting a search based only on name and a date of birth, however, certainly produce many false-positives through this search, and these files now must be further investigated. What that requires is the active location of the actual physical paper file in each case, a review of that file to determine whether the individual who was identified in the match is the same individual as the person who registered to vote in Orange County, and in many, many, many cases they are not; they are simply people born on the same date with the same or similar names. And the only way to check that, unfortunately, is through this laborious physical process. Even after you do that, in many cases we'll actually need field investigation to be certain that we have the same person.
While these efforts are difficult and time-consuming, much more so than we would like, we believe that it's a warranted expenditure under the circumstances, and we think that it will ultimately prove to be of value to the State, local, and Federal authorities who are looking into these issues. But I want to emphasize, it is an extraordinarily expensive and an extraordinarily time-consuming process. We've already expended in the Orange County matter alone more than $150,000 in this endeavor, and we have only just begun to fight, if you'll excuse the expression. This is a very, very expensive, time-consuming process.
Next, I'd like to explain why secondary verification by the INS that would be mandated by this bill can't, simply can't be accomplished through INS data systems. First of all, of course, it's important to recognizeand I know the framers of the bill do recognizethat INS has no records on native-born U.S. citizens, who constitute more than 98 percent of the electorate. The purpose of the INS secondary verification would be to deal with naturalized citizens.
Page 120 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But the proposed link between the Social Security and INS data systems simply will not work because the records in the two system don't match; there aren't common identifiers other than name and date of birth that can be used, and I've already explained to you the problems that come from using only those common identifiers.
Social Security records use social security numbers and do not include alien numbers used by the INS, contrary to what seems to be the assumption in the bill. INS records usually do not include social security numbers. What that means is there's no common identifier, and we're in this business of false-positives and the like that I was discussing before.
Third, INS records on people who have become citizens are often archived in Federal records centers that are not easily accessible. And millions of them, those dating from before 1972, are not electronically stored at all. I want to emphasize the importance of that fact. If an individual naturalized prior to 1972, they simply are not in INS data bases. We've got paper files on them, but that's it, and, obviously, a large number of our naturalized citizens who are potentially voting fall in that category.
Fourth, because most voter registration inquiries to the INS would have to rely on often inconclusive identifiers, such as name and date of birth, we would have to do the resource-intensive, time-intensive file search that I mentioned before.
Fifth, for more recently-naturalized citizens, there is typically a significant period between naturalization and reflection of that fact in our data bases. That doesn't instantly get translated. There's a data latency problem that exists, and particularly for people who would have naturalized close to the time of an election, that could pose a problem as well. And there are database errors that also would be a problem for olderfor voters who naturalized longer ago.
Page 121 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Finally, many of the citizens born abroad who derive their status through their parentage have no records in INS data systems whatsoever, and, again, that would be another class that simply would not turn up.
Now you may have heard that INS is developing a pilot employment verification system that would include information from the Social Security Administration. I think Congressman Horn alluded to it, that there are efforts to verify in the employment context, but there are major differences between voter eligibility determinations and employment verification determinations that make them really apples and oranges. You can't make assumptions from one to the other.
In employment verification, INS determines only whether a noncitizen has work authorization, based upon self-attested noncitizen status. The worker, the would-be worker, says, ''I'm a noncitizen'' and gives his alien registration number. In the voting context, the would-be voter is professing to be a citizen, not to be an alien, and is very unlikely to self-attest by provision of an alien registration number. So what you're going to have is a nameback to the name and date of birth match, which is so difficult to deal with, as I've described. And so that is a fundamental problem.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Ogden, if I may interrupt you, since we have a vote that's being called, I'd like to work in Mr. Crank's testimony
Mr. OGDEN. Certainly.
Page 122 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH [continuing]. Before we break. Thank you.
Mr. OGDEN. That's fine.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Ogden follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DAVID W. OGDEN, ASSOCIATE DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Immigration Subcommittee, I am David Ogden, Associate Deputy Attorney General. Thank you for inviting the Department of Justice to testify on H.R. 1428, a bill which would establish a federal verification system of the citizenship eligibility requirement for voting in local, state and federal elections. We appreciate being provided the opportunity to present our views on this bill. We certainly recognize the importance of protecting the integrity of elections. Nevertheless, we have previously expressed to the majority and minority staff of the Subcommittee as well as that of the bill's author the reasons for our strong concern and opposition to H.R. 1428.
Under H.R. 1428, the Attorney General and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) would establish an eligibility confirmation system through which local registrars and state election officials could seek to verify whether a newly or currently registered voter is a United States citizen. Those persons whose U.S. citizenship status could not be verified affirmatively through a search of SSA records would be subject to a secondary verification process by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Election officials may reject a registration application or grant provisional voting status to persons who do not have citizenship confirmed by this process, subject to their producing satisfactory proof of citizenship.
Page 123 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The goal of ensuring the integrity of elections is of course laudable. But we have very serious concerns that H.R. 1428 is impractical because it is dependent upon data systems not suited for this purpose, and would be so cumbersome and flawed that it would likely raise discriminatory barriers to the right to vote for many qualified U.S. citizens, and particularly for minority voters. Because INS is already cooperating with local authorities to the extent practicable and permitted by law, the bill is also unneeded.
A NEW LAW IS NOT REQUIRED FOR THE INS TO RESPOND TO LEGITIMATE INQUIRIES BY ELECTION OFFICIALS
Let me turn to the latter point first. INS routinely cooperates with state and local law enforcement officials in the execution of their duties. I assure you it is doing so in this area and will continue to do so as well. In the context of elections, state and local election officials already have access to INS records in appropriate circumstances. Although the Privacy Act prevents executive branch agencies from providing certain information on individuals to third parties, there is an exception that permits INS to release immigration and citizenship status information for law enforcement purposes, including purposes related to the integrity of elections. Moreover, under Section 642(c) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, the Immigration and Naturalization Service is obligated to respond to an inquiry by a federal, state or local government agency, seeking to verify or ascertain the citizenship or immigration status of any individual within the jurisdiction of the agency for any purpose authorized by law, by providing the requested verification or status information.
Consequently, new legislation is not required in order for state election officials to obtain INS information or assistance with legitimate law enforcement inquiries regarding the citizenship status of voters. INS is already responding to federal, state and local demands for assistance on an unprecedented scale and is working hard to upgrade and improve its verification systems and procedures so that it can respond more effectively in the future, particularly given the new demands of the welfare reform law.
Page 124 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Let me describe some of our current efforts. INS began working in December 1996 with the District Attorney of Orange County, California to assist his inquiry on possible illegal voting by non-citizens in the November 1996 election. On January 8, 1997, INS provided an initial response to the District Attorney's request to review a list of approximately 1,160 registered voters. The Department and INS have engaged in productive meetings and discussions on a regular basis with the California Secretary of State regarding registered voters in California's 46th Congressional District and all of Orange County. Based upon this dialogue, we expect that the Department and the California Secretary of State will soon enter into a Memorandum of Understanding governing future requests for INS data and assistance in this area.
INS is also responding to the House Oversight Committee. At the Committee's request on May 21, 1997, INS produced approximately 504,000 names from INS databases which matched the last names and dates of birth of Orange County registrants. Subsequently, INS compared a list provided by the Secretary of State containing registered voters by first name, surname and date of birth to its databases to locate matching entries that lacked a date of naturalization or in which the date of voter registration preceded the date of naturalization. The search resulted in the identification of more than 4,000 names. Due to the possibility of duplication or error resulting from conducting a search using only a name and a date of birth, however, these files must now be further investigated. INS is locating the actual files and beginning to examine them to determine the citizenship status of the individuals at the time of registration.
While these efforts are difficult and more time-consuming than we would like, we believe they are warranted under the circumstances and that they will ultimately prove to be of value to the federal, state, and local authorities concerned.
Page 125 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
H.R. 1428 WILL NOT RESULT IN ACCURATE AND TIMELY INFORMATION
Contrary to the hopes of its sponsors, the method mandated by H.R. 1428 will not improve the current situation and certainly will not result in accurate and timely information being provided to state and local election officials. For purposes of this testimony, I will not discuss the limitations of the SSA database which are fully described in the SSA testimony except to note that the 269 million SSA records created prior to 1981 reflect only unverified information on citizenship status, and that more recently created records are not always updated for changes in citizenship status. What I wish to make clear in the balance of my remarks is this: secondary verification by INS cannot be accomplished systematically through INS data systems.
THE PROPOSED LINK BETWEEN SSA AND INS DATA WILL NOT WORK BECAUSE SSA RECORDS DO NOT USE THE ALIEN NUMBER
Most fundamentally, the legislation appears to make a critical, erroneous assumption. The legislation assumes that secondary verification can occur through SSA's furnishing INS an individual's Alien Number. SSA's automated database, however, is organized by Social Security numbers, and SSA does not have the Alien Number, which is INS's separate enumerator. Moreover, INS records usually do not include an alien's social security number. (Until recently, the INS did not have the authority to require an alien to provide his or her Social Security number, and the INS estimates that at most ten percent of its records contain Social Security numbers.) Secondary verification under Section (e)(2) of H.R. 1428 is therefore dependent on SSA providing information that is not readily accessible (the Alien Number) to the local election official who then makes an inquiry with the INS.
Page 126 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The only remedy for this problem would be to require the local election official to demand that applicants who are not native-born citizens provide their Alien Numbers as a condition of voting. We would question the advisability of such a mandate. As a society, we have sought to lessen, rather than sharpen, the distinctions between native-born and naturalized citizens. To require a long-time citizen who may have naturalized decades ago to produce his or her alien registration number in order to continue to vote is not the right course. This is particularly true when, as I will describe, such older records are not easily retrievable, either by the INS or the individual, even with the Alien Number, because the records will be stored in Federal archives.
INS RETRIEVAL SYSTEMS ARE NOT SUITED FOR THIS PURPOSE
Generally, INS records on non-citizens who have entered recently or who have had other business with INS can be readily retrieved in an INS office as they are indexed in an automated INS database. On the other hand, INS records on naturalized citizens are typically inactive, because there is no need to recall them after a person naturalizes. For this reason, INS records on people who have become citizens are often stored in Federal Records Centers and are not likely to be easily accessible. And millions of themthose dating from before 1972are not electronically stored at all.
Without the alien number, most voter registration inquiries to INS would have to rely solely on other information such as name and date of birth. As has been reinforced by our recent experiences in Orange County, these identifiers are often inconclusive and result in numerous duplicate matches and false matches. No match based only on name and date of birth is conclusive, and requires a time and resource-intensive review of the paper files or even field confirmation.
Page 127 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
EMPLOYMENT VERIFICATION IS NOT THE SAME AS VOTER VERIFICATION
It is true that a pilot employment verification system including information from SSA already is in development. But this would not make a new voter verification process easier to implement. There are major differences between the voter eligibility process the bill would mandate and the verification for employment. INS records are valuable and effective for employment verification but not for voter verification because of the critical differences in the nature of the inquiries. In employment verification, INS determines whether a non-citizen has work authorization based upon self-attested non-citizen status and a readily accessible alien number. Even if the INS system has not been updated to reflect U.S. citizenship, the person is authorized to work as a permanent resident, which would be the status reflected in the INS system. H.R. 1428, on the other hand, seeks to use citizenship information that INS has only for naturalized citizens and some persons who derived citizenship from others. For naturalized citizens who in the years since naturalization changed their name through court proceedings or marriage, verification becomes even more difficult. The alien file that would have to be consulted for the existence of a naturalization certificate could be on microfiche or archived in a federal records center anywhere in the country. Finally, unlike the employment verification context, which requires proof of identity, INS has no way to verify that the identity of the person seeking to register to vote is identical to the subject of any particular file.
With or without an Alien Number, INS cannot systematically use its automated databases to confirm whether an individual is a citizen. INS, of course, has no files on native-born citizens. Thus, very few citizens have INS files since, according to the 1990 Census, only 3.4 percent of U.S. citizens are naturalized citizens. For other citizens, the databases will not serve the purposes of the statute for several reasons:
Page 128 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
INS records of naturalization before the early 1970s are rarely kept electronically. Current information on these cases is available only through finding and reviewing paper files, a large portion of which are archived in Federal Records Centers.
For more recently naturalized citizens, there is typically a significant period between naturalization and reflection of that fact in the electronic record, and it appears that, due to database errors, many older electronic records do not reflect the fact of naturalization.
INS files on those U.S. citizens born abroad who obtained their citizenship through their parentage (so-called ''derivative citizens''), including children under 18 at the time of their parents naturalization, rather than through individual naturalization, are limited to those derivative citizens who have applied to the INS for a Certificate of Citizenship. Many derivative citizens have neither needed nor desired to obtain that certificate.
H.R. 1428 POSES CIVIL RIGHTS PROBLEMS THAT CANNOT BE IGNORED
We strongly support the principle, as do the proponents of H.R. 1428, that voter eligibility verification be done in a non-discriminatory, uniform fashion. This principle is critical in protecting the voting rights of all Americans, particularly minority voters who have suffered a history of discriminatory treatment in obtaining and exercising the right to vote. H.R. 1428 requires that the confirmation system respond only to inquiries that are uniform, nondiscriminatory and in compliance with the Voting Rights Act. Unfortunately, this important obligation makes H.R. 1428 still more unworkable.
Page 129 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In the employment verification context, Congress has guarded against discrimination by requiring employers to verify the identity and work authorization status of all new employees. H.R. 1428 lacks this safeguard. Registrars are invited to use the citizenship check on anyone they choose, and need no information indicating that a person is not a citizen before seeking information on that person's citizenship status. County registrars could select the names of isolated Asian- or Spanish-surnamed registered voters and applicants for registration for citizenship checks, causing many legal citizens to be unduly delayed or discouraged from registering to vote out of fear of being singled out for another governmental citizenship inquiry. Furthermore, if a local or state official submitted for verification only those registrations submitted by certain political parties, religious or labor-affiliated political or other organizations or registrants in particular neighborhoods, INS would have no way to know of this discriminatory behavior. H.R. 1428 provides no effective check or prohibition on such activities. If H.R. 1428 contemplates a federal preclearance for registration verification methods, additional lead time is also required for that process to take place.
On the other hand, requiring INS to verify all voters in a requesting jurisdiction would be highly burdensome and costly on the federal and state system and, as previously noted, would not necessarily result in reliable information about any particular registrant. The sheer volume of verifications of all new and current registrants would necessarily take substantial time and force all individuals to register many months before an election. In the case of individuals whose status did not get verified, some could actually miss their opportunity to vote in elections. This would contravene the current registration deadlines in every state which, under federal law, cannot exceed thirty days before the election. Thus, however administered, H.R. 1428 would make it more difficult for many citizens, native-born and naturalized alike, to register and vote.
Page 130 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
In sum, H.R. 1428 would contribute nothing toward the goal of greater integrity in our elections, while imposing delays, impediments, and potential discrimination on citizens seeking to exercise the franchise lawfully. Far more desirable is retention of the present approachcase-by-case responses by INS to SSA or state agencies seeking information on a particular claim to naturalized or derivative citizenship status.
Thank you for the opportunity to share with the Subcommittee our concerns with the approach of H.R. 1428 to achieve a goal upon which we all remain committed. I would be pleased to answer your questions.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. Crank.
STATEMENT OF SANDY CRANK, ASSOCIATE COMMISSIONER FOR POLICY AND PLANNING, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
Mr. CRANK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee. Thank you for inviting the Social Security Administration to testify on H.R. 1428. I would like to briefly summarize my statement and submit it for the record.
Mr. Chairman, we strongly oppose the citizenship confirmation process which H.R. 1428 provides for. The process would rely on information which SSA has about citizenship which is not necessarily accurate. SSA cannot confirm citizenship because we are not the official custodian of birth, naturalization, or other records which constitute generally acceptable evidence of citizenship. Our records regarding the citizenship or noncitizenship status of individuals are not necessarily current and are not necessarily based on documentary evidence.
Page 131 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
SSA records generally reflect citizenship or noncitizenship status at the time a social security number, which I will refer to as an SSN, is assigned or at the time a duplicate or corrected social security card is issued, and are not routinely updated to reflect the status changes of individuals. Furthermore, the accuracy of our records is dependent on the validity of the documents presented to us as evidence.
I would also like to point out that, were the system described in H.R. 1428 to be adopted, SSA validation of SSN's would have to be done on a reimbursable basis. Since voter registration does not relate to a Social Security program purpose, Social Security trust funds could not be used to pay for the activities required of SSA under H.R. 1428, and the bill does not provide for reimbursement.
I would like to explain more about why SSA's records cannot be used to confirm citizenship. SSA maintains lifetime records of each worker's earnings for purposes of determining entitlement to Social Security benefits, and the amount of such benefits. I think the subcommittee understands that purpose. The key to this massive recordkeeping operation is the SSN, a unique number assigned by SSA for this purpose. Over 384 million SSN's have been assigned since 1936, and these records contain certain information about the person to whom an SSN is assigned, including in some cases citizenship status. From the beginning of the program in 1936 to November 1971, all SSN's were based solely on information alleged by the applicant. Proof of identity or of any of the information provided was not required. Beginning in November 1971, some categories of SSN applicants were required to submit evidence of identity.
On May 15, 1978, we began requiring all applicants for original Social Security numbers to provide documentary evidence of age, identity, and citizenship status. We also required all applicants for replacement Social Security cards to submit evidence of identity and foreign-born applicants to submit evidence of current noncitizenship status.
Page 132 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
However, it was not until 1981 that our recordkeeping system was able to record and maintain for us whether the person had provided proof of citizenship status. This means that any information we have about U.S. citizenship obtained as a result of the SSN application process before 1981 is limited to unverified allegations of birth in the United States and unverified allegations of naturalization. Of the 384 million SSN's assigned, approximately 269 million were assigned prior to 1981.
Generally, to obtain an SSN and Social Security card, an applicant now must submit at least two documents to establish identity, age, and citizenship status. However, even with the requirement for documentary evidence, of course you know our records can be no better than the source documents used as evidence.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, while we fully understand and share the subcommittee's concerns about improving the integrity of the voter registration process, we are strongly opposed to the bill because of its reliance on SSA records for confirmation of citizenship.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'd be pleased to answer questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Crank follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF SANDY CRANK, ASSOCIATE COMMISSIONER FOR POLICY AND PLANNING, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
Page 133 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for inviting the Social Security Administration (SSA) to testify on H.R. 1428, a bill which would require the Commissioner of Social Security and the Attorney General to establish a system to verify the citizenship of voter registration applicants.
H.R. 1428 PROVISIONS THAT AFFECT SSA
Let me begin by briefly summarizing the provisions of the bill that affect SSA. The stated purpose of H.R. 1428 is to establish a confirmation system that would be used for the purpose of assessing the eligibility of voter registration applicants through citizenship verification. Specifically, the bill would require the following:
The Attorney General, in consultation with SSA and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), would establish a voter eligibility confirmation system under which SSA would respond to inquiries made by voter registration officials or nonconfirm the citizenship of voter registration applicants;
SSA would maintain a record of the inquiries that were made and of confirmations provided (or not provided);
INS would establish a secondary verification process (for an SSA tentative nonconfirmation) to provide a final confirmation or nonconfirmation;
SSA would validate the name and SSN provided by voter registration authorities to confirm (or nonconfirm) whether the person is a citizen of the U.S.; and
Page 134 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
SSA would provide the requester any information maintained regarding an alien identification or authorization number established by INS for the person.
SSA VIEWS ON H.R. 1428
We strongly oppose a citizenship confirmation process that is based on the use of SSA records as verification of U.S. citizenship. SSA is unable to confirm citizenship because SSA is not the official custodian of birth, naturalization, or other records which constitute evidence of citizenship. Our records regarding the citizenship/noncitizenship status of individuals are not necessarily current and are not necessarily based on documentary evidence. SSA records generally reflect citizenship or noncitizenship status at the time an SSN is assigned, or at the time a duplicate or corrected Social Security card is issued, and are not routinely updated to reflect status changes. Furthermore, the accuracy of our records is dependent on the validity of the documents presented to us as evidence.
As a point of clarification, SSN validation would enable voter registration officials to verify that the name and SSN provided by the applicant match SSA records, that is, that, according to SSA records, a given SSN was assigned to a given person. However, I want to emphasize that the SSN validation process does nor confirm that the voter registration applicant is, in fact, the person to whom the SSN was assigned.
Were the system described in H.R. 1428 to be adopted, SSA validation of SSN's would have to be done on a reimbursable basis. Since voter registration does not relate to a Social Security program purpose, the Social Security trust funds may not be used to pay for the activities assigned to SSA under H.R. 1428. Furthermore, we are concerned about the impact of the bill on SSA resources, even if SSA were to be reimbursed (which the bill does not provide for).
Page 135 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
ESTABLISHING A PERSON'S SOCIAL SECURITY RECORD
SSA maintains lifetime records of each worker's earnings for purposes of determining entitlement to Social Security benefits and the amount of such benefits. Each person's records are stored and accessed electronically. The key to this massive recordkeeping operation is the SSN, a unique number assigned by SSA for this purpose. Over 384 million SSNs have been assigned since 1936. SSA's records reflect the following information about the person to whom an SSN is assigned (based on information furnished by the SSN applicant): applicant's full name, date and place of birth, gender, mother's maiden name, and father's name. In some cases, citizenship/noncitizenship status is also recorded. Although evidence of identity, age, and citizenship/lawful noncitizen status is required of new applicants, generally, SSN records compiled before May 1978 were not supported by documentation and therefore cannot confirm citizenship.
Although SSA is the appropriate agency to verify that a person's name and SSN match the official record of SSN assignments, we are not the custodian of birth or naturalization records and thus cannot confirm U.S. citizenship. We do not routinely receive notification when a noncitizen becomes naturalized. Our SSN records reflect a person's citizenship/noncitizen status only as of the time the SSN is assigned or a replacement Social Security card is issued. If a noncitizen becomes a naturalized citizen after being assigned an SSN, we reflect this information on our records only if the person applies for a replacement Social Security card. Finally, we do not routinely maintain records of alien registration numbers, which are assigned by INS.
Page 136 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC From the beginning of the program in 1936 to November 1971, all SSNs were assigned based solely on information alleged by the applicant; proof of identity or of the information provided was not required. Beginning in November 1971, persons age 55 and over applying for an SSN for the first time were required to submit evidence of identity. Beginning April 15, 1974, all noncitizens, all applicants age 18 or older, and all applicants for Aid to Families with Dependent Children (now Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) applying for original SSNs were required to submit documentary evidence of age, identity, and citizenship/lawful noncitizen status. This made it more difficult to obtain an SSN on the basis of a false identity.
Because of our concern that people who had been assigned SSNs for purposes other than work might use the SSN to obtain unauthorized employment, in July 1974, we began to annotate our paper records to reflect the fact that a noncitizen had been assigned a nonwork SSN, that is, an SSN which was not valid for employment purposes. In May 1982, SSA began annotating Social Security cards with this restriction when appropriate.
Several years later, the integrity of the SSN process was further improved. On May 15, 1978, we began requiring all applicants for original SSNs to provide documentary evidence of age, identity, and U.S. citizenship or noncitizenship status. We also required all applicants for replacement (duplicate or corrected) Social Security cards to submit evidence of identity and, if foreign-born, evidence of current noncitizen status. People who alleged birth in the United States when applying for their original SSN or who previously submitted evidence of citizenship are not required to provide evidence of citizenship when applying for a replacement card.
Page 137 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It was not until 1981 that our recordkeeping system was able to record whether the person had provided proof of citizenship or noncitizenship status. This means that any information about U.S. citizenship obtained as a result of the SSN application process before 1981 is limited to unverified allegations of birth in the U.S. and unverified allegations of naturalization. Of the 384 million SSNs assigned, approximately 269 million were assigned prior to 1981.
Generally, to obtain an original SSN and Social Security card, an applicant now must submit at least two documents to establish identity, age, and citizenship/lawful noncitizen status. Evidence of U.S. citizenship can be a U.S. birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or U.S. passport. Evidence of lawful noncitizen status is an appropriate unexpired document issued by the INS.
The documents which an SSN applicant must present to establish age, identity, and citizenship or noncitizenship statusprimarily a birth certificate and INS documentsmay, of course, have been altered, counterfeited, or obtained through fraud. SSA accepts a U.S. birth certificate as evidence of age and citizenship, but not as evidence of identity. A birth certificate establishes the fact of birth, but not that the person named on the certificate is the person presenting it. Even though SSA employees are trained to recognize counterfeit INS documents and U.S. birth certificates, we should keep in mind that some SSA records may have been established based on fraudulent documents.
Page 138 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
We are also concerned about devoting limited SSA resources to this nonprogram workload. SSA would have to be reimbursed because trust funds may not be used for non-Social Security program-related work. Because the language of the bill does not limit the verification system to new voter registrants, it would possible for voter registration officials to submit to SSA an entire list of registered voters for validation. Depending on the number of records involved, this could be an enormous workload that would interfere with Social Security workloads, especially if large numbers of validation requests were received shortly before elections.
EMPLOYMENT ELIGIBILITY VERIFICATION PILOT PROJECT
The voter registration confirmation system in H.R. 1428 appears similar to the employment eligibility verification pilot required by the 1996 Immigration Reform legislation. This legislation requires SSA and INS to test a verification system under which employers may confirm a newly hired employee's work eligibility. We are working with INS on a pilotthe Joint Employment Verification Pilotto provide employers with telephone access to verify the name, SSN, and work authorization status of a newly hired employee.
At the outset, the pilot will involve 25 to 50 employers in Chicago. Subsequent expansion will include 4 of the 7 States with the highest populations of noncitizens who are not lawfully present in the U.S. The results of this project are due in 1999 and 2000. We expect this study to provide useful information on the potential for verification of a person's SSN and work authorization status based on SSA and INS records.
Page 139 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I want to stress, however, that, regardless of the results obtained from the employment eligibility verification pilots, considering the SSN evidentiary policies in effect at the time the SSN card was issued to the person, the validity of any documents submitted, and the fact that SSN records do not necessarily reflect current citizenship status, the use of our system for confirmation of citizenship for voter registration purposes is not feasible.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, while we fully understand and share the subcommittee's concerns about improving the integrity of the voter registration process, we are strongly opposed to H.R. 1428 because of its reliance on SSA records for confirmation of citizenship.
In addition, the process appears to give the Federal Government the responsibility for determining voter eligibility by providing for final confirmation or nonconfirmation of citizenship at the Federal level. While we fully agree that the Federal government is the ultimate appropriate adjudicator of citizenship, we suggest that absent some reason to refer a particular case to Federal authorities, State and local government officials ordinarily can determine citizenship for voting purposes. They are in the best position to know what evidentiary policies are most appropriate for their particular circumstances.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. Crank. I'm going to be brief because I'm hoping we can finish up with our questions before we go vote.
Mr. Crank, I just want to clarify that Social Security Administration records show whether someone was born in the United States, and, therefore, would show whether someone was a citizen, assuming the records are accurate. As I understand it, that would include about 90 percent of the people we're talking about; is that correct?
Page 140 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. CRANK. Mr. Chairman, according to information I have, in 1994 there were 118 million registered voters in the United States. According to the information that we've gotten from the Census Bureau, there are 193 million people in the United States in 1996 who are age 18 or over, the age of eligibility for voting. But of that 193 million, only about 179 million are suggested by the Census data as being those who were born in the United States and, thus, eligible to vote. What we don't know is, of the 179 million, assuming that's a good number from Census, how many of those people were assigned SSN's prior to 1981 or subsequent to 1981. Therefore, I can't tell you how many people we could, in essence, based on information obtained after 1981
Mr. SMITH. But the Social Security Administration does have a record of where everybody is born, and from that, we could conclude that they were citizens, just as a general principle; is that correct?
Mr. CRANK. As I think I've tried to say, before 1981, we have records of where people allege they were born.
Mr. SMITH. OK, I understand that. Thank you, Mr. Crank.
Mr. Ogden, does any accurate system now exist whereby we can make sure that people who are aliens do not vote in Federal elections?
Mr. OGDEN. I think as phrased, Mr. Chairman, the answer to that is no, insofar as it affects the Immigrationas far as INS is concerned.
Page 141 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SMITH. If we don't have such a system, how can we enforce the law that says aliens should not vote?
Mr. OGDEN. Well, I think our recommendation is that we continue to work with and refine the process that we are now developing in the context of the Orange County situation.
Mr. SMITH. Another alternative would be, of course, to pass Mr. Horn's bill.
Mr. OGDEN. Well, the difficultyMr. Horn's bill can establish a mandate, but it can't establish the system, and the problemthat would have to be done in response to it, and it would be enormously difficult to do.
Mr. SMITH. By ''system,'' you mean the computerization, and so forth?
Mr. OGDEN. Correct. The problemit's a data base problem. The data bases weren't set up to do this. They don't cover a huge segment of the population that we're talking about.
Mr. SMITH. I know very little about computersI'm still working on E-mail in my officebut it seems to me that's something that could be resolved with the technology that we have. That's just my impression.
Page 142 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I'm going to yield to Mr. Watt.
Mr. WATT. I just have one question, Mr. Chairman, and each of the witnesses can answer it yes or no, and then I'll be through.
I take it from the testimony of both of you that, even if this were a good idea, the results wouldn't be reliable?
Mr. OGDEN. I think it's
Mr. WATT. Yes or no?
Mr. OGDEN [continuing]. Correct that, without an enormous amount of time and resource involvement, we could not get accurate results.
Mr. WATT. OK.
Mr. CRANK. Yes, I would confirm that; it would take an enormous amount of human investment, in addition to the systems.
Mr. WATT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. SMITH. Ms. Lofgren.
Ms. LOFGREN. I'll be quick as well.
Page 143 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Since my daughter's 15, I know that the kids who were born in 1981 are 16 and not yet eligible to vote. So it's quite possible, Mr. Crank, you don't have any voters in your databank. I mean, you don't know for sure, but
Mr. CRANK. Right.
Ms. LOFGREN [continuing]. That, just in the numbers, might be the case. And so it doesn't look like your data's going to be very useful to us in this endeavor.
Mr. Ogden, Iand I sound like a broken record here sometimes because practically every time the IRS comes, I talk about the need to computerize and have better data, and I'm not at all convinced that we've made the kind of progress that we need to in that arena. But can you tell me, is there a seta year where you just have paper records and you're not computerized at all?
Mr. OGDEN. Prior to 19with respect to any record that has not had to be updated since 1972, we do not have electronic data.
Ms. LOFGREN. And do you haveI've seen actually the records; I, obviously, didn't count them. For example, in the old SANSOM office in San Francisco there was a city block of paper files. Now some of thosethat was in the midseventies. Do you have any idea what it would take to computerize those paper files, so that you would have accurate information in your data bank?
Page 144 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. OGDEN. Going back to the beginning? I don't have a number. We certainly can do our best to come up with an estimate. It would be enormously expensive.
[The information was not provided at time of printing.]
Ms. LOFGREN. And unless we did that, a request to you would not yield accurate information?
Mr. OGDEN. That's right. I mean, we canin the case of specific aliens, where we have an alien registration number, we can use our data bases
Ms. LOFGREN. But these are all U.S. citizens, so the registrar of voters is going to havethey're not going to have an alien registration; they're going to have a John Doe; there may be many John Does, as we've seen in the Orange County thing, and they came back with half a million people where there were name matches, and, obviously
Mr. OGDEN. That's exactlythat's exactly the problem. These data bases were not set up to verify voting; they were set up to identify aliens based on their alien registration number, the alien identification number.
Mr. SMITH. Ms. Lofgren, would you yield just for a minute? It seems to me we may be talking about two different things. I think we all agree perhaps that we don't have the current technology right now. I think where we're disagreeing is that some of us think you might be able to get it, but I don't think any of us disagree that it's going to be tough right now. I just think some of us think that we could do it, if we wanted to. Mr. Watt has brought out that it might be at some cost, and that's one thing we're going to need to find out.
Page 145 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Ms. Lofgren, are you finished?
Ms. LOFGREN. I think if we want to make this vote, we probably all are.
If I could just do a final question
Mr. SMITH. Ms. Lofgren.
Ms. LOFGREN. Since you're here, I have called the Immigration Service twice a day for the last month to get some information that should be discoverable easily, and I'm fed up with it, and I would like some information. My staff here willperhaps we can get some movement by my staff
Mr. OGDEN. Good. I will be glad to speak with
Ms. LOFGREN. The committee needs it. It is not just me. We are writing some legislation. The committee needs the information.
Mr. OGDEN. I'd be happy to try to help with that.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Ms. Lofgren.
We thank you all and appreciate your testimony.
Page 146 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. SMITH. The Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims will reconvene, and I will introduce the panelists. Instead of Dan Stein on this panel, we welcome K.C. McAlpin, deputy director and chief operating officer of the Federation for American Immigration Reform; Theresa LePore, supervisor of elections, West Palm Beach, FL, and Becky Cain, president, the League of Women Voters of the United States.
Let me not only welcome you all, but apologize in advance. I am going to, unfortunately, have to leave in about 5 or 6 minutes to a markup that is going on down the hall, and they apparently need real people and real votes. So I will have to head to that markup. And I also have another conflict starting at 1:30.
So I think what we will proposeand this is with Mr. Watt's agreementis to hear your testimony and perhaps submit our questions to you with the expectation that you'll be able to get back to us within 10 days, if that's all right. Is that all right, Mr. Watt?
Mr. WATT. Yes.
Mr. SMITH. Mr. McAlpin, we'll start with you.
STATEMENT OF K.C. McALPIN, DEPUTY DIRECTOR AND CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM
Page 147 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. MCALPIN. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify on behalf of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. My name is K.C. McAlpin and I'm the deputy director of FAIR. I've got some written remarks that I think have been submitted to the committee; I'm going to ask you to include those in the record. I'm just going to summarize some comments here.
Mr. SMITH. Without objection, anybody's statements today would be made a part of the record, and I think in the last panel I overlooked making that clear, but yours will be as well.
Mr. MCALPIN. OK. My testimony today is in support of H.R. 1428, the Voter Eligibility Verification Act. Willful voter fraud by aliens is a matter of serious concern to FAIR, Mr. Chairman. Today this Nation makes verification of native-born or naturalized citizenship as difficult and impractical as possible, for no sound policy reason. Birth record information is inconveniently housed in 50 separate State records vaults inaccessible to any State, local, or private agency seeking to verify citizenship. While naturalization information is available on an ad hoc basis from the INS, this situation is a product of historical accident, not some constitutional requirement. States originally established the qualifications for citizenship out of historical habit; they retain primary custody of birth record information today. There is no Federal citizenship document other than naturalization certificates provided by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to naturalized aliens.
Yet, we have no way for Nebraska, the State of Nebraska, for example, to verify easily the citizenship claims of someone born in, say, Florida. This makes no sense to us. In our view, Mr. Chairman, whenever anyone registered to vote, a simple, brief, electronic, online verification procedure should be established to allow one State voter registrar to verify the birth/citizenship information with a State of the applicant's birth at the time of registration. In the case of a naturalized citizen, that same information should be provided on the same terms by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Page 148 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
States can and must provide compatible, online verification procedures to assist other States and Federal agencies in the routine verification of citizenship claims. But in 1997, we are a long way from that goal. So as an interim measure, Mr. Chairman, we support H.R. 1428 and would like to urge strengthening amendments, if possible.
Mr. Chairman, recent news accounts from Texas and California reveal that there were serious instances of fraudulent voting by aliens in last year's election. Unfortunately, this situation was foreseen when the Motor Voter Act was adopted in 1993. Motor Voter mandates that States establish registration procedures that do not ensure integrity of the voting process. Because there is no online verification of birth record or alien naturalization information, there is no easy way for State election officials to verify that an individual registrant is eligible to vote.
Criminal investigations of illegal voting usually involve an inefficient and costly comparison between A-files on green cardholders and voter registration lists. We expressed our concern then that relaxed controls on voter registration might lead to registration by noncitizens. Given the ease of most State registration procedures and the volume of immigration, it seems plausible to anticipate the emergence of orchestrated vote fraud operations.
In order to maintain the integrity of our democratic system of government, we must keep the selection of our Nation's elected representatives at all levels of government as free of foreign and outside influence as possible. Not only must we bar foreign interests from influencing our elections and selection of our leaders through campaign contributions, but we must also exclude from voter rolls those persons who do not owe their allegiance to our Nation and to our U.S. Constitution.
Page 149 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I'd like to just come back and emphasize a few key issues in this whole process. We've focused a lot in the comments that were made earlier on the practicalities of performing this kind of a verification step. The United States bears a special burden for demonstrating to the world that we maintain the strictest standards for free and fair and honest elections. After all, we have undertaken to instruct countries like Nicaragua, Haiti, and Bosnia, and other places around the world, in how to do this. And it seems to us that it is incumbent on the United States to maintain the highest level of integrity.
Secondly, I want to talk about the deterrent value of a system that performs some check on the citizenship status of those casting votes. The earlier comments of the Justice Department and the Social Security Administration focused again on the bureaucratic burdens and the practical problems involved with that, but you have to look for the impact of this proposed law on the deterrence that would exist in the mind of somebody who intends, willfully, to abuse our election laws and violate the rules in order to cast a vote.
Very briefly, sir, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, we have an issue of cost and bureaucratic burdens on the one hand being laid against the right of the U.S. people to govern themselves through free and fair elections, purchased at great cost by our forefathers and others throughout history. You cannot put a monetary value on that or a value in terms of the bureaucratic burdens that are imposed. It seems to us that you either have integrity of the voting process or you have no representative democracy.
We have 15we have 5 million-plus illegal aliens in the country today, according to the INS. We have 10 million, roughly, noncitizen legal immigrants in the country. The temptations and the possibilities to vote in elections illegally against our laws seems to be enormous and to justify this remedy.
Page 150 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
[The prepared statement of Mr. Stein follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DAN STEIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify on behalf of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). My name is Dan Stein, and I am the executive director of FAIR. FAIR is a national non-profit, public interest organization working to end illegal immigration and to promote a general moratorium on most renal immigration in order to reduce future levels.
My testimony today is in support of H.R. 1428, the Voter Eligibility Verification Act. Willful voter fraud by aliens is a matter of serious concern to FAIR. Mr. Chairman, today this nation makes the verification of native-born or naturalized citizenship as difficult and impracticable as possiblefor no good or sound policy reason. Birth record information is inconveniently housed unelectronically in 50 separate state record vaults, inaccessible to any state/local or private agency seeking to verify citizenship, while naturalization information is available on an ad hoc basis from the INS. This situation is a product of historical accident, not some Constitutional requirement: states originally established the qualifications for citizenship; out of historical habit, they maintain primary custody of birth record information. There is no ''federal citizenship document'' other than the naturalization certificate provided by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to naturalized aliens. The Federal Government does not maintain national citizenship listings, even though it does maintain Social Security and tax files on just about every American. It also conducts a Census every decade that requires the national government to count every person in the country. Yet we have no way for Nebraska, for example, to verify easily the citizenship claims of someone born in, say, Florida. This makes no sense to us.
Page 151 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
In our view, Mr. Chairman, whenever anyone registers to vote, a simple, brief, electronic on-line procedure should be established to allow one state voter registrar to verify the birth/citizenship information with the state of the applicant's birth at the time of registration. In the case of a naturalized citizen, that same information should be provided on the same terms by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. States can and must provide compatible on-line verification procedures to assist other state and federal agencies in the routine verification of citizenship claims.
But in 1997, we are a long way from that goal. So as an interim measure, Mr. Chairman, we support H.R. 1428, and would like to urge strengthening amendments, if possible. As introduced, the major provisions of H.R. 1428 would:
Instruct the Attorney General and the Commissioner of Social Security to design a system that would permit local election officials to verify electronically the citizenship status of registered voters at no cost to the local election commission.
Provide a procedure allowing the Social Security Administration to match the name of the voting applicant with the Social Security number provided on the voter registration form. If the SSA is unable to match the name and Social Security number, the Social Security Administration shall issue a tentative nonconfirmation. The Immigration and Naturalization Service will provide a secondary confirmation or nonconfirmation, based upon its records.
Instruct the SSA to provide notification to the authorized local election official whether the applicant's eligibility to vote is confirmed or not. If the application is nonconfirmed, the local election official can reject the application by removing the name from the voter registration list and notifying the applicant in writing or the application can be provisionally accepted contingent upon documentation proving citizenship.
Page 152 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Establish that the confirmation system is a voluntary one for the sole purpose of determining eligibility of voter registration applicants. H.R. 1428 expressly denies authorization for a national ID card or a new data base.
Mr. Chairman, recent news accounts from Texas and California reveal that there were serious instances of fraudulent voting by aliens in last year's elections. Unfortunately, this situation was foreseen when the Motor-Voter Act was adopted in 1993. Motor-voter mandates that the states establish registration procedures that do not ensure integrity in the voting process. Because there is no on-line verification of birth record or alien naturalization information, there is no easy way for state election officials to verify that an individual registrant is eligible to vote. Criminal investigations of illegal voting usually involve an inefficient and costly comparison between A-files on green card holders and voter registration lists. We expressed our concern then that relaxed controls on voter registration might lead to registration by noncitizens. Given the ease of most state registration procedures and the volume of immigration, it seemed plausible to anticipate the emergence of orchestrated vote fraud operations.
Heretofore, efforts to mandate the development of inter-state birth record or naturalization document information have been unsuccessful. Yet at the time Motor-Voter passed, we had two major concerns about the Motor-Voter process. First, it seemed likely that it would be inadvertently misused by aliens without command of the English language, who would register despite their ineligibility to do so. Second, it also seemed likely that the law would be abused by aliens tempted to obtain a voter registration card as a form of identification under the employer sanctions system adopted in the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act in order to avoid further scrutiny by employers. The voter registration card has nowthankfullybeen removed as a document acceptable to prove citizenship on the INS form I9 (to prove work eligibility and identity to employers).
Page 153 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
In order to maintain the integrity of our democratic system of government, we must keep the selection of our nation's elected representatives, at all levels of government, as free of foreign and outside influence as possible. Not only must we bar foreign interests from influencing our elections and selection of our leaders through campaign contributions, but we must also exclude from voter rolls those persons who do not owe their allegiance to our nation and our United States Constitution.
Mr. Chairman, it is always tempting to ascribe the noblest motives to our fellow human beings, but our body of laws are testimony to the reality of our experience that the temptation of gain, if not regulated, will lead to abuses. We also know that there is a direct relationship between the likelihood of being found out in wrong doing and the level of deterrence from such action. It is not enough to have people punishable by law if they illegally register to vote, if there is no screening mechanism to determine whether the voter applicant is eligible, and if there is no sanction applied to persons who are found to be in violation of the law.
We find that H.R. 1428 seeks to accomplish an important step in redressing the incentive to voter fraud that was created in 1993 (P.L. 10331). It appropriately would do so by providing local election officials with a system to verify the citizenship status of registered voters. Can this system work? The recent experience of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in Dallas in conducting computer-assisted checking of voter roles shows the feasibility of such a system. Moreover, while such a system would not be full-proof in rooting out ineligible voters, the knowledge of its availability would certainly deter many of those ineligible to vote from registering.
Page 154 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We are not blind to the technical difficulties of using Social Security Number verification as a surrogate for citizenship verification. But it is an important step in the right direction that would put the Executive Branch on notice that the protection of citizenship information is a national priority that demands federal attention.
You have heard from the Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service that it is possible that a computer-based verification system comparing Social Security system registrants (or Alien Registration records) and voter registration roles may turn up matches for different persons with the same first and last names as well as the same date of birth. It is possible, but it is also very unlikely and should be so rare as to be easily managed by a manual records check. Ask the INS after they do the records checks they currently have undertaken what percentage of ineligible voters they found.
This proposed system is not any more intrusive than a commercial credit reference check arguably much less so or a police records check for a job applicant. The process is designed only to perform a records check on the basis of pre-existing records to verify eligibility to vote and, therefore, is not a possible instrument of discrimination.
Mr. Chairman, the system of voter eligibility verification established in H.R. 1428 is important as a deterrent to fraudulent registration. You will recall that I mentioned that there is another important element to prevent abuse of our most important citizenship right. When aliens are found to have violated the law in willful disregard of it, there needs to be a credible threat of punishment. For that reason I suggest that you continue to pursue with the Justice Department what action it plans to take in the cases of the aliens in California and Texas who recently have been found to have illegally registered to vote and to have illegally voted. The absence of any publicly disclosed details regarding any punishment of the offenders suggests that the Justice Department has decided to look the other way. That can only encourage further abuse.
Page 155 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for this opportunity to testify and for your firm leadership of the effort to make the nation's immigration laws serve the national interest. We, like you, recognize that, despite the enormous amount of effort expended last year on reform legislation and the adoption of an important body of new measures aimed at preventing illegal immigration to this country, a vast amount of further work remains to be done. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Mr. SMITH. Thank you, Mr. McAlpin.
STATEMENT OF THERESA LE PORE, SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FL
Ms. LEPORE. Good afternoon.
Mr. SMITH. I apologize in advance, again.
Ms. LEPORE. No problem.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak in favor of H.R. 1428. My name is Theresa LePore. I'm the supervisor of elections in Palm Beach County, FL, and I've worked in the Palm Beach County elections office for more than 26 years now. So I understand the importance of the accuracy of the voter registration records. I'll briefly summarize my testimony, which has already been entered in the record.
Page 156 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Under Florida law, the only items required on a voter registration application to be accepted is the name, residence address, date of birth, and signature of the applicant. The Social Security number and telephone number, if it is supplied, is not made part of the permanent record for publication under the Privacy Act.
In the recent legislative session, the Florida Legislature passed into law a provision for a central voter file to be administered by the Florida Division of Elections. This will take effect January 1, 1998. It will not be a real-time file, but rather a file that will be updated by all 67 Florida counties on a periodic basis.
The creation of this central voter file will enable the Florida Division of Elections to try to determine if duplicate registrations exist, meaning people that have registered in more than one Florida county, as well as to cross-check felony records, mentally-incompetent records, and death records. The Social Security number as an addition to this file would enable themwill assist in this process.
In Florida, convicted felons cannot be registered to vote unless their civil rights have been restored, and persons declared mentally incompetent cannot be registered to vote unless their competency has been restored.
Now we understand that this would not be a foolproof method, as persons wanting to fraudulently register to vote could do so and could provide a fraudulent Social Security number, but this would be a tool for us to verify, perhaps by checking the INS and Social Security records, if we get information that this person may not be a legitimate person.
Page 157 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
As a county that's considered part of south Florida, where the immigrant population is on the rise, being able to verify citizenship status would be a tremendous help. There have been many cases in south Florida where illegal immigrants have been caught in possession of voter registration cards, particularly in Dade and Broward Counties, and is moving north to Palm Beach County, for identification purposes to get in and out of the country.
There has also been a problem with illegal immigrants using the voter registration card as identification purposes in seeking employment. Palm Beach County is very diverse. We have very wealthy people along the coast to middle class in the central part of the county and agriculture in the western part of the county. In the agricultural section, the sugarcane fields and farms, they employ a lot of people from Central and South America, as well as the islands, to come over. A lot of them make an attempt to get a voter registration card to use as identification on their I9 forms. So we're not necessarily saying these people are voting, but it is a strong possibility that they are.
In 1996, there was a constitutional amendment on the ballot for the sugar tax. I don't know if you all have heard about that or not, but we know that the sugar people had registered a tremendous amount of voters to vote in support of that. Now we don't know if all of those were legal or not. We'd like to hope that they are, but that was just one point to mention.
I would like to mention a case recently, within the last few years, in Dade County, FL, which was similar to what has happened in Orange County, CA, but on a much smaller scale, where absentee ballots were issued to people that were not U.S. citizens. This particular candidate had gone and had these people registered to vote under Motor Voter Act because you don't have to show any identification or anything under that, and gotten absentee ballots, and it was challenged in court. Now the Dade County supervisor of elections had a horror story because they did check the records against INS and, as has been told already to you, the INS records are not accurate records. They do not have people listed on there that are U.S. citizens born in the United States. So he had a publicity nightmare where all these people, they were saying, were not part of theor were not legally registered to vote when, in fact, they were naturalizedor they were U.S. citizens by birth. So we must understand that although this would not solve the problem, it would merely be a tool for the elections officials to be able to try to verify and maintain accurate records.
Page 158 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
[The prepared statement of Ms. LePore follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF THERESA LEPORE, SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FL
I have worked in the Palm Beach County, Florida, Supervisor of Elections Office since June 10, 1971. I was elected as Supervisor of Elections in November of 1996. During my years in the Elections Office, I have seen the number of registered voters grow from approximately 200,000 in 1971 to 531,735 in January of 1995 to 610,538 in April of 1997. As you can see, the Palm Beach County voter Registration rolls increased by almost 79,000 registered voters in just over two years, due mostly as a result of N.V.R.A.
Under Florida Law, the following items are required before the Supervisor of Elections can accept a voter registration application: Name, residence address, date of birth and signature. The Social Security Number and other pertinent information is optional. Florida has a prohibition on the release of the Social Security Number (if supplied by the applicant), telephone number (if supplied by the applicant), and signature.
In the recent Legislative Session, the Florida Legislature passed into Law a provision for a ''central voter file'' to be administered by the Florida Division of Elections which will take effect on January 1, 1998. This would not be a ''real time'' file, but rather a file that would be updated by all 67 Florida Counties on a periodic basis. The creation of the ''central voter file'' will enable the Division of Elections to try to determine if duplicate registrations exist (voters registered in more than one Florida County) as well as to cross check the Felony records, mentally incompetent records and the death records. Although not full-proof, adding the Social Security Number on the file would assist in this process. (Note: In Florida, convicted Felons may not vote unless their Civil Rights have been restored and persons declared mentally incompetent by the Courts may not vote unless their Competency has been restored.)
Page 159 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
As a county that is considered in ''South Florida'' where the immigrant population is on the rise, being able to verify citizenship status would be a tremendous help. Although it is understood that neither the Social Security Administration nor the Immigration and Naturalization Service has a comprehensive record of all current legal U.S. citizens, it must be noted that this system would not be fool-proof. It would, however, enable jurisdictions to make an attempt to check the status of voters and potential voters on an ''as-needed'' basis.
In summary, I feel that it would be beneficial to require that the Social Security Number be part of the voter's record to assist elections officials in trying to maintain accurate records. However, in light of the admittance of the Social Security Administration and the Immigration and Naturalization Service in not having comprehensive records of all current U.S. citizens, I would not want either the elections officials nor the public to be lured into a false sense of security in thinking that this will solve the ''problems'' of fraudulent registrations, especially with regard to non-U.S. citizens being registered. It would be virtually impossible to obtain the Social Security Number of all registered voters and match that to the S.S.A. or I.N.S. files.
Mr. WATT. Ms. Cain.
STATEMENT OF BECKY CAIN, PRESIDENT, LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF THE UNITED STATES
Ms. CAIN. Thank you, Mr. Watt. I appreciate the opportunity to be heard.
Page 160 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
I am Becky Cain. I'm president of the League of Women Voters of the United States, and on behalf of the league, I'm pleased to be here to express our views on H.R. 1428, the Voter Eligibility Verification Act.
We have three major problems with this proposal. First, there is no demonstrated necessity for the proposed legislation. Second, it won't work. And, third, it would have a negative impact on the voter registration and participation of all citizens.
H.R. 1428 is based on the unsubstantiated premise that registration and voting by noncitizens in this country is a major problem that cannot be successfully identified and addressed under current State and Federal laws. We have seen no evidence to the effect that registration and voting by noncitizens is a major problem. Where it does occur, as we've heard here today, voter registration and vote fraud should be vigorously prosecuted. A criminal investigation of voter registration and voting by noncitizens is currently underway in Orange County, CA. Another investigation has been initiated by the INS in Dallas, TX. Under current law, the INS is required to cooperate with election officials in investigations of voter registration and vote fraud. H.R. 1428 is unnecessary. The current laws are working.
Even more importantly, the legislative proposal simply won't work. H.R. 1428 would establish a program using existing Federal data to confirm the citizenship of registered voters. The fact is there are no Federal lists that establish the citizenship of Americans. The proposal relies on data from the Social Security Administration and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, data that will not servewe've heard them testify here todaywill not serve to confirm the citizenship of the vast majority of American citizens, particularly people born in this country.
Page 161 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
We understand that the SSA can confirm name and number matches, but they cannot, as you heard them testify today, confirm citizenship. All Social Security citizenship information is self-reported. No citizen information was even requested in that agency prior to 1978 or recorded before 1980. That is the age group of what would be now registered eligible 18-year-olds.
According to H.R. 1428, when citizenship is not confirmed through Social Security data, the names would be submitted then to the secondary check of INS data. The INS keeps records of immigrants, not citizens born in this country. INS files on naturalization are mostly paper files. You heard them testify to that today.
In addition, INS computer checks have been characterized by a high number of duplicates and false matches. Indeed, without a major expenditure of time and money, neither the INS nor the SSA can provide timely and accurate information on naturalizations, let alone citizenship of people born in this country.
According to this proposal, when the names of voters are returned unconfirmed, they can be dropped from the rolls or required to prove that they are citizens. The vast majority of names submitted and returned to election officials with their citizenship status unconfirmed would be citizens born in this country. The legislation simply won't work to provide confirmation of citizenship.
The history of voter registration and voting procedures in this country is replete with intentional and unintentional discrimination against ethnic minorities. To its credit, the bill does require that the application of the proposed program be uniform and nondiscriminatory. The proposal virtually ensures that, if utilized, the names of all registration applicants or all registered voters in a particular jurisdiction, rather than selected names, must be submitted for verification in order to prevent discrimination. The submitted names overwhelmingly will be citizens born in this country. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of citizens would be required to prove they are citizens before they could vote. Just as many could be purged from the rolls or have their voter registration applications denied because their citizenship was unconfirmed by Federal data banks that were never designed for that purpose. This proposal simply won't work.
Page 162 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC H.R. 1428 not only won't work, but, if enacted, it would have devastating consequences on our electoral system. It would actively discourage voter registration and participation. Most citizens do not have or keep on their person documents to prove their citizenship. The process by which they might obtain their birth certificates, for instance, could take weeks, as well as costing a fee. Not only will this be a problem for initial applicants, but large numbers of citizens who are already registered would be subject to new requirements to document their citizenship. Under these conditions, a significant number of Americans would simply not participate.
The bill would allow States and localities to have different and potentially discriminatory requirements for citizenship documentation for Federal elections. In fact, the bill could leave citizenship documentation decisions to the discretion of individual election officials, with the attendant potential for discrimination.
The legislation could also allow election officials to require voters to update or correct Federal recordsdeal with the Federal bureaucracybefore registration or reinstatement by State election officials.
Finally, the bill would abolish Privacy Act protections in a way that could have in itself a chilling effect on voter participation for many citizens. H.R. 1428 would overturn provisions of the Privacy Act that prevent the majority of States from requiring Social Security numbers on voter registration applications.
Voter registration information is public information. Nothing in this proposal would protect or ensure the privacy of Social Security numbers submitted on voter registration applications. Many citizens might choose not to participate rather than have their social security number publicly disclosed.
Page 163 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
We urge you to reject this fatally flawed proposal. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Cain follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF BECKY CAIN, PRESIDENT, LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF THE UNITED STATES
Thank you Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee. I am Becky Cain, president of the League of Women Voters of the United States. On behalf of the League, I am pleased to be here to express our views on H.R. 1428, the Voter Eligibility Verification Act.
We have three major problems with this proposal. First, there is no demonstrated necessity for the proposed legislation. Second, it won't work. And third, it would have a negative impact on voter registration and participation of all citizens.
H.R. 1428 is based on the unsubstantiated premise that registration and voting by non-citizens in this country is a major problem that cannot be successfully identified and addressed under current state and federal laws. We have seen no evidence to the effect that registration and voting by non-citizens is a major problem.
Where it occurs, voter registration and vote fraud should be vigorously prosecuted. A criminal investigation of voter registration and voting by noncitizens is currently underway in Orange County, California. Another investigation has been initiated by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, or INS, in Dallas, Texas. Under current law, the INS is required to cooperate with election officials in investigations of voter registration and vote fraud. H.R. 1428 isn't necessary.
Page 164 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Even more importantly, this legislative proposal simply won't work. H.R. 1428 would establish a program, using existing federal data, to confirm the citizenship of registered voters. The fact is: there are no federal lists that establish the citizenship of Americans. The proposal relies on data from the Social Security Administration and the Immigration and Naturalization Servicedata that will not serve to confirm the citizenship of the vast majority of American citizens, particularly people born in this country.
We understand that the Social Security Administration, or SSA, can confirm name and number matches but that they cannot confirm citizenship. All social security citizenship information is self-reported. No citizenship information was even requested by the agency before 1978, or recorded before 1980.
According to H.R. 1428, when citizenship is not confirmed through social security data, the names would be submitted to a secondary check of Immigration and Naturalization Service, or INS, data. The INS keeps records of immigrants, not citizens born in this country. INS files on naturalizations are mostly paper files. In addition, INS computer checks have been characterized by a high number of duplicates and false matches. Indeed, without a major expenditure of time and money, neither the INS nor the SSA can provide timely and accurate information on naturalizations, let alone the citizenship of people born in this country.
According to this proposal, when the names of voters are returned ''unconfirmed,'' they can be dropped from the rolls or required to prove they are citizens. The vast majority of names submitted and returned to election officials with their citizenship status ''unconfirmed'' would be citizens born in this country. It is also likely that the citizenship of the majority of naturalized citizens would be returned ''unconfirmed.'' The legislation simply won't work to provide confirmation of citizenship.
Page 165 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The history of voter registration and voting procedures in this country is replete with intentional and unintentional discrimination against ethnic minorities. To its credit, the bill requires that the application of the proposed program be uniform and nondiscriminatory. The proposal virtually ensures that, if utilized, the names of all voter registration applicants or all registered voters in a particular jurisdiction, rather than selected names, must be submitted for verification in order to prevent discrimination. The submitted names, overwhelmingly, will be citizens born in this country.
Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of citizens would be required to prove they are citizens before they could vote. Just as many could be purged from the rolls or have their voter registration applications denied because their citizenship was unconfirmed by federal data banks that were never designed for that purpose. This proposal simply won't work.
H.R. 1428 not only won't work but, if enacted, it would have devastating consequences for our electoral system and for our democracy. It would actively discourage voter registration and participation. Most citizens do not have, or keep on their person, documents to prove their citizenship. The process by which they might obtain their birth certificate, for instance, could take weeks, as well as costing a fee. Not only will this be a problem for initial applicants, but large numbers of citizens who are already registered would be subject to new requirements to document their citizenship. Under these conditions, a significant number of Americans would simply not participate.
The bill would allow states and localities to have different, and potentially discriminatory, requirements for citizenship documentation for federal elections. In fact, the bill could leave citizenship documentation decisions to the discretion of individual election officials, with the attendant potential for discrimination. The legislation also could allow election officials to require voters to update or correct federal records before registration or reinstatement by state election officials. In addition, the requirement to provide documentation of citizenship would have a disproportionate impact on the elderly and low-income citizens who may not have access to birth records or who do not have the resources to pursue a complicated, confusing procedure to confirm their citizenship. Under these conditions, a significant number of Americans would simply not participate.
Page 166 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Finally, the bill would abolish Privacy Act protections in a way that could have, in itself, a chilling effect on voter participation for many citizens. H.R. 1428 would overturn provisions of the Privacy Act that prevent the majority of states from requiring social security numbers on voter registration applications. Voter registration information is public information. Nothing in this proposal would protect or ensure the privacy of social security numbers submitted on voter registration applications. Many citizens might choose not to participate rather than having their social security numbers publicly disclosed.
In summary, with little or no justification, H.R. 1428 would erect substantial barriers to voter participation for most citizens. The major consequence of this proposal would be to discourage registration and voter participation by the vast majority of American citizens, both foreign-born and native-born.
We urge you to reject this fatally flawed proposal. Thank you.
Mr. WATT. Thank you very much.
The chairman asked me, before he left, to again apologize to this panel for his having to leave, but he had this markup that he had to be at, and to thank you on behalf of the chairman and the committee for your testimony.
As the chairman announced before he left, the record will be kept open for at least 10 days for committee members to address written questions to you, and we would hope that you would respond to them promptly.
Page 167 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
And unless the chairman objects, for the information of other people, we will keep the record open for 10 days for other submissions from other groups, but if the chairman objects, then I'm not ordering that. I'm just going to ask him. I forgot to make the unanimous consent request before he left. So I think he'll probably be fine with it, but I wouldn't want to presume that, and I wouldn't want to be unfair to him in his absence.
So if all minds and hearts are in order, as my minister used to say, this hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 1:43 p.m., the subcommittee adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X E S
Appendix 1.Letter Dated June 24, 1997, From James T. Beall, Jr., Chair, Board of Supervisors, County of Santa Clara, CA
Hon. LAMAR SMITH, Chair,
|Board of Supervisors,|
|County of Santa Clara, CA,|
|San Juan, CA, June 24, 1997.|
Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims,
House Judiciary Committee,
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors urges you to oppose H.R. 7 (Bilbray), which would deny automatic citizenship to children born in the United States.
Page 168 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
H.R. 7 would confirm citizenship only on children born in the United States to a citizen or legal resident. This proposal stands in direct contradiction to the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, as well as the basic principles of equality and justice upon which our country was founded. Ultimately, H.R. 7 would deny the right of citizenship to children solely due to the citizenship status of their parents, when these children are no different from the offspring of American citizens.
Santa Clara County is also concerned about the administrative difficulties posed by H.R. 7 upon doctors and hospitals. In addition, health care professionals in our county hospital adamantly oppose efforts to link citizenship status with medical services.
H.R. 7 is likely to be unconstitutional, and represents poor public policy. Our Board asks that you oppose this legislation.
Appendix 2.Prepared Statement of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
|James T. Beall, Jr.,|
|Chair, Board of Supervisors.|
STATEMENT REGARDING H.R. 7
Page 169 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) appreciates the opportunity to submit testimony regarding proposed changes to the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. MALDEF is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the rights of Latinos in the areas of education, employment, political access, immigration, and language rights.
H.R. 7 purports ''to deny citizenship at birth to children born in the United States of parents who are not citizens or permanent resident aliens.'' Congress must not adopt H.R. 7 because it would be in clear violation of the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1866, violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and ignore State sovereignty in the area of marriage laws.
Denial of Citizenship By Birth Is A Violation of the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
The Immigration and Nationality Act incorporates the Fourteenth Amendment at Section 301(a) by stating that ''a person born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof'' shall be a citizen of the United States at birth.(see footnote 41) Section 3 of H.R. 7 would change the definition of ''subject to the jurisdiction'' to extend citizenship only to: (1) persons born in wedlock to a parent who is a citizen or permanent resident, where State common law marriage laws are not recognized by the Federal Government; or (2) persons born out of wedlock, including common law marriages, where the mother is a citizen or permanent resident, regardless of the father's citizenship or immigration status. While H.R. 7 purports to change only immigration law, it would in effect repeal the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as restated in the applicable immigration statute.
Page 170 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Citizenship Clause and Civil Rights Act of 1866
Throughout our history, the law of this country has recognized those born in this country are citizens of this country. At first, the rule existed only as common law inherited from the Anglo-American common law principle of jus soli.(see footnote 42) When this country moved away from the principle of birthright citizenship in decisions such as Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (19 Howard) 393 (1857) (''Dred Scott''), civil war resulted. Dred Scott held that a person of African descent born in this country was not a citizen of the United States. After Dred Scott and the Civil War, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866 reversing the Dred Scott decision. The 1866 Act provides: ''[A]ll persons born in the United States, and not subject to any foreign power, excluding Indians not taxed, are hereby declared to be citizens of the United States.'' Soon after, Congress and the States added the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The first sentence of the Fourteenth Amendment, known as the Citizenship Clause, provides: ''All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the States wherein they reside.''
The 1866 Act and the Citizenship Cause were designed to place into our statutory laws and the Constitution respectively our common law heritage of birthright citizenship and ensure its extension to U.S.-born children of African descent. Both the 1866 Act and the Citizenship Clause incorporated the limited exceptions to birthright citizenship from our common law tradition, which excluded citizenship to children born to foreign ambassadors, on foreign ships, or to foreigners during a hostile occupation of our territory.(see footnote 43) The 1866 Act and the Citizenship Cause also did not extend birthright citizenship to tribal Indians.(see footnote 44) This last exception was based on the unique status of Indian tribes that are recognized as sovereign nations.(see footnote 45)
Page 171 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Supreme Court Consideration of Birthright Citizenship in the Wong Kim Ark Decision
The Supreme Court has considered the specific question of whether birthright citizenship could be denied based on the immigration status of a child's parents, and answered that it would be an unconstitutional violation of the Fourteenth Amendment.(see footnote 46) In the Wong Kim Ark decision, the U.S.-born son of Chinese nationals claimed U.S. citizenship during the time of the Chinese Exclusion Acts,(see footnote 47) which provided for the expulsion of Chinese persons from the United States and prohibited their eligibility for citizenship through naturalization. Even though Wong Kim Ark's parents themselves could not become citizens under the law that existed, the Court found that with few exceptions, the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment must be read broadly to extend birthright citizenship to all persons born in the United States regardless of their parents' immigration or citizenship status. The Court stated:
The Fourteenth Amendment, while it leaves the power, where it was before, in Congress, to regulate naturalization, has conferred no authority upon Congress to restrict the effect of birth, declared by the Constitution to constitute a sufficient and complete right to citizenship.(see footnote 48)
Thus, taken together, the Citizenship Clause in the Constitution, along with the Wong Kim Ark decision, deny the constitutionality of H.R. 7.
Arguments That Deny Citizenship By Birth Fail
Page 172 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Proponents of limiting birthright citizenship are wrong to claim that the Wong Kim Ark decision does not apply to U.S.-born children of undocumented persons based on the notion that Wong Kim Ark's parents were legal resident aliens. Wong Kim Ark clearly stands for the proposition that the status of the parents does not matter under our U.S. Constitution. The Court enumerated the limited exclusions from birthright citizenship as ''children of foreign sovereigns or their ministers, or born on foreign public ships, or of enemies within and during a hostile occupation of part of our territory, and with the single additional exception of children of members of the Indian tribes owing direct allegiance to their several tribes.''(see footnote 49)
Actually, looking at the facts of Wong Kim Ark, although the plaintiffs parents were here legally, they were here at a time when our country had passed racist statutes that prohibited them, because they were Chinese, from having the chance to become U.S. citizens. Although here legally in a technical sense, Wong Kim Ark's parents had been reduced to a status worse than being undocumented since they had no chance to naturalize.
Proponents of limiting birthright citizenship illogically and wrongfully suggest that undocumented persons are not ''subject to the jurisdiction'' of the United States as that phrase appears in the Fourteenth Amendment. In Wong Kim Ark, the Court determined that the phrase ''subject to the jurisdiction'' was coextensive and synonymous with ''within the jurisdiction'' of any state.(see footnote 50) Thus, constitutional jurisdiction is an expansive concept which cannot be limited artificially by a seemingly simple narrowly constructive legislative interpretation. Our current laws reflect this understanding. Unlike diplomats from foreign countries, all immigrants whether here lawfully or not must follow the laws of the jurisdiction where they live. If this were not so, an undocumented immigrant could feel free to speed, steal, or even murder with no legal consequences. At the same time, when accused as criminals, persons who are undocumented are accorded constitutional protections.
Page 173 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
More recently than the Wong Kim Ark decision, redefining ''jurisdiction'' to preclude conferral of constitutional rights has not survived Supreme Court scrutiny.(see footnote 51) In Plyler v. Doe,(see footnote 52) appellants argued that a state affords protection only to persons within its jurisdiction. They argued that persons who have entered the United States illegally are not ''within its jurisdiction,'' even if that person is within a state's boundaries and subject to its laws. The Court held that ''neither our cases nor the logic of the Fourteenth Amendment supports that constricting construction of the phrase 'within its jurisdiction.' ''(see footnote 53) Rather, the Court held that jurisdiction, as commonly understood, applies to all those within the boundaries of a State.(see footnote 54)
H.R. 7 Would Violate Children's and Men's Constitutional Right to Equal Protection
The Fourteenth Amendment goes beyond reaffirming our common law tradition of birthright citizenship by mandating that all persons similarly situated be treated alike. The Fourteenth Amendment states that, ''[n]o State shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.'' It is well settled that the equal protection principle found in the Fourteenth Amendment as it applies to the States is implicit in the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment, as it applies to both the States and the Federal Government.(see footnote 55) H.R. 7 would violate equal protection principles by treating similarly situated children differently in attaining citizenship and by treating similarly situated parents differently in conferring citizenship to their children.
Page 174 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Similarly Situated Children
Discrimination against certain children based on parents' conduct violates equal protection principles.(see footnote 56) In Weber v. Aetna Casualty,(see footnote 57) Louisiana's workmen's compensation law afforded ''illegitimate'' children(see footnote 58) recovery only if surviving dependents did not exhaust the maximum benefits. The Court held that the Stab may not invidiously discriminate against this class, ''illegitimate'' children, by denying them substantial benefits accorded children generally. Furthermore, the Court refused to allow the State to discriminate against certain children, even when they could be used to deter or influence the behavior of other persons, such as parents.(see footnote 59) Disparate treatment of ''illegitimate'' children, not responsible for their birth, violates the general principle that requires legal burdens to bear some relationship to individual responsibility or wrongdoing, and violates the principle of equality.
Discrimination against undocumented children, like discrimination against ''illegitimate'' children, violates equal protection.(see footnote 60) In Plyler v. Doe,(see footnote 61) the Supreme Court upheld the right of children who are undocumented to equal access to public elementary and secondary education. The Court based its decision in part on the reasoning that undocumented children, like ''illegitimate'' children, have no control over their status by birth and should not be discriminated against on this basis. The Court stated that ''[l]egislation directing the onus of a parent's misconduct against his children does not comport with fundamental conceptions of justice.''(see footnote 62) The children of undocumented entrants can affect neither their parents' conduct nor their own status.
Page 175 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Proponents of H.R. 7 state that they want to end illegal immigration, and allege that this legislation will achieve that goal by deterring undocumented immigrants from coming to the U.S. to have children. No evidence supports this conclusion. Virtually all credible studies conclude that the dominant causes of undocumented migration are the hope of obtaining employment or reunifying with family members.
Furthermore, if H.R. 7 becomes law, Latino and Asian children will be ostracized and subject to citizenship checks more frequently than other Americans solely because of their heritage. Such odious and unintended consequences will surely flow from enactment of this legislation. This is too high a cost to pay.
Similarly Situated Parents
In addition to treating similarly situated children differently, H.R. 7 treats similarly situated parents differently which would also violate our equal protection principles. Without logical foundation, a child born out of wedlock to a mother who is a citizen will be granted citizenship at birth, while a child born out of wedlock to a father who is a citizen but whose mother is undocumented will not be granted citizenship. A citizen mother will be able to pass on her U.S. citizenship to her child without any further action, but a citizen father will be prohibited from passing on his U.S. citizenship to his child unless he marries the mother, who may not want to marry him, for whatever reason. With H.R. 7, the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of equality no longer exists.
H.R. 7 Would Trample State Sovereignty Over Marriage
Page 176 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, those powers not delegated to the Federal Government by the Constitution, nor prohibited by the Constitution to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people. H.R. 7 would determine citizenship at birth by parental citizenship or immigration status. Whether or not the father's status can be considered in determining the child's citizenship status depends on whether the father is married to the mother. Although many States recognize common law marriage, H.R. 7 would not recognize State law. The Federal Government would ignore State law and would consider the child's parents unmarried. Since the power to determine who can or cannot be married and what constitutes a marriage were not delegated to the Federal Government nor prohibited by the Constitution as a power to be given to the States, H.R. 7 would threaten longstanding State sovereignty rights.(see footnote 63)
STATEMENT REGARDING H.R. 1428
This testimony is submitted on behalf of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). MALDEF was incorporated in 1968 with the purpose of dismantling the barriers that have historically preventing Latinos from fully participating in American society. A national nonprofit organization, MALDEF promotes and protects the civil rights of Latinos through advocacy, educational outreach, leadership development, law school and communications scholarships, and when necessary, through the legal system.
One of the areas in which MALDEF has maintained an active civil rights agenda is in the field of voting rights. As guaranteed by the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, MALDEF has fought to ensure that every citizen is enabled to exercise the right to vote free from hindrances. The following testimony presents MALDEFs views on H.R. 1428, the ''Voter Eligibility Verification Act.''
Page 177 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The right to vote and participate in the democratic process is essential to ensuring the government maintains popular support of the people and the individual citizen enjoys proper consideration of his rights by those in power.(see footnote 64) Unfortunately, in the past, discrimination in voter registration has resulted from the creation of tests and devices used at the discretion of local registrars and state officials in order to discourage groups of individuals from election participation. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 specifically outlawed these tests and devices, ensuring that the voter registration process would be free from discriminatory barriers.
The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) further opened the electoral process by making voter registration more convenient and accessible to all eligible participants. The NVRA was created to enable all eligible United States citizens to register to vote for federal elections in three simple ways: when applying for or renewing a driver's license or nondriver ID, by mail, or through selected government agencies. The inclusion of an application to register to vote coupled with an application for the renewal or change of address for a driver's license has been popularized as the Motor Voter program.
Since its implementation in 1995, the Motor Voter provisions of the NVRA have been highly successful in increasing eligible voter registration throughout the nation. In its 199596 report, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) found that a total of 41,452,428 registration applications were processed nationwide. Of this total two-thirds or 27,485,055 applications represented new registrations, evidence of the effectiveness of Motor Voter. The Motor Voter provisions of the NVRA are among the most effective means of registering new voters as evidenced by the fact that motor voter agencies yielded the highest volume of registration applications, accounting for 33.1% (13,722,00) of the total number of voter registration applications in the United States during the 199596 year.(see footnote 65)
Page 178 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Effect on Motor Voter
If enacted into law H.R. 1428, the ''Voter Eligibility Verification Act,'' will reverse over 30 years of progress in eliminating voter registration discrimination and will undermine the protection afforded by the Voting Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act. The Horn Bill establishes a federal program for election officials to allegedly ''confirm'' the citizenship of registered voters and voter registration applicants. Not only is this process intrusive, but it would undermine the right to vote of every American and have a harsh impact on the participation in the electoral process of the most vulnerable members of society.
MALDEF opposes the Horn Bill due to its potential for reversing the gains made by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. First, H.R. 1428 fails to establish an effective time limit for the citizenship process. Thus, citizens who registered to vote shortly before the deadline could be denied their right to vote. Most importantly, the purported ''citizenship confirmation'' requirement places a discouraging and unnecessary burden on voters. Many, if not, most citizens do not have or keep documents to prove their citizenship. The process by which they can obtain a birth certificate, for instance, could take weeks and could cost a fee which would amount to a poll tax for low income citizens. This bill not only fails to provide any adequate means of actually proving citizenship, but rather provides a means of potentially denying citizens their legal right to vote.
In addition, if election officials are unable to confirm a voter's citizenship through the proposed federal program, they are required to notify the applicant or registered voter of the results of the inquiry and inform them of the SSA and INS proposed program for updating or correcting citizenship information; or ''any other process for establishing eligibility to vote provided under State or Federal law.'' These provisions of the Horn Bill would allow states to pass different standards for documenting citizenship and would allow election officials to require voters to update or correct federal records before registration. This would have a disproportionate impact on low-income, language minorities and the elderly who either may not have access to birth records or do not have the resources to pursue a complicated and confusing procedure to prove their citizenship. The Horn Bill would establish a major obstacle to voter registration and participation for many citizens and would reverse the years of progress made by Motor Voter.
Page 179 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Discrimination Against Minorities
The Horn Bill purports to require ''reasonable safeguards against the system's resulting in unlawful discriminatory practices based on national origin or citizenship status,'' however, the likelihood of discrimination is evident by the vagueness of such a provision. Similar to the tests and devices employed in the past to prevent full voter registration and participation, H.R. 1428 leaves an enormous amount of discretion in the hands of local registrars. It is ultimately at the discretion of local and state officials to determine the individuals whose citizenship will be verified, and, if an individual's citizenship cannot be verified, whether that individual will be removed from the rolls or have his or her voter registration application rejected.
Given this country's history of discrimination in voter registration, these decisions could be made based on the race or language of the individual registrants. Despite the bill's requirement that the procedures be applied in a non-discriminatory manner, similar provisions in the past have not prevented widespread discrimination based on race, national origin or against language minorities in employment. Simply because the bill may not have been created with a discriminatory intent does not mean that there may not be discriminatory results which would violate the Voting Rights Act. The vagueness of the provision leaves open the likelihood that individuals would be targeted who look or sound foreign or who have a foreign sounding last name. Moreover, the absence of any penalties for violation of this prohibition virtually invites discrimination.
The Horn Bill is an attempt to side-track and curtail the merit of Motor Voter legislation by latching on to anti-immigrant sentiment. The bill attempts to establish a federal program to confirm the citizenship of registered voters and voter registration applicants. Such a bill essentially acts to repeal the NVRA, a law that recognizes that the strength of a citizen's right to vote depends on uniform and routine access to registration and non-discriminatory practices and procedures. The proposed Horn Bill undermines this law and would result in potentially selective restriction of certain groups of citizens, particularly immigrants, from access to the ballot.
Page 180 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The Horn Bill seeks to respond to the current allegations of voter fraud which recently have surfaced in such districts as Orange County, California and Dallas, Texas against groups of Asians and Latinos. There is no doubt that suspicions of voter fraud can, and should, be investigated and proof of fraud prosecuted. There has been no demonstration, however, that voter fraud is a significant national problem. In addition, safeguards exist under the current National Voter Registration Act to ensure that fraud does not occur during voter registration. For example, the NVRA already provides that fraud in registration is a federal crime. Also, no evidence exists that state and local government employees actively register ineligible voters, and it is highly unlikely that a non-citizen would jeopardize his or her ability to remain in the United States or to become a U.S. citizen by attempting to commit voter registration fraud.
Flaws In Verification System
Not only does the Horn Bill assume an unnecessary task, its method of confirming citizenship by way of a computer verification system is unworkable. According to the Horn Bill the federal program would be established by the Attorney General and the Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) using existing social security and INS databases. The fatal flaw with this scheme is that these computer verification systems and data bases are incapable of accurately identifying the eligibility of voters and registrants. The current data bases of INS and SSA do not contain accurate, updated information on the citizenship status of many Americans. The SSA can confirm matches of social security names and numbers. It can not confirm citizenship because citizenship data is self-reported. No citizenship information was even requested before 1978, or recorded before 1980. Thus, an attempt to confirm citizenship by relying on SSA databases would result in a large number of false positives.
Page 181 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Serious problems also exist with respect to the use of the INS database as a tool to confirm citizenship. The INS data base only keeps records of immigrants, and not native-born citizens. With respect naturalized citizens, two groups within that categorythe most recently naturalized and those naturalized before computer records were keptare not even included in the data base. In addition, the INS files on naturalization are mostly written files not computerized and those that are in the computer system are highly inaccurate. Thus, these flaws in the proposed computer verification systems demonstrate the impossibility of verifying citizenship through social security and INS data.
Another danger of the proposed computer verification systems is its threat to the 1974 Privacy Act. The Privacy Act forbids states from asking registrants for their Social Security number (SSN), in part because the SSN is already widely used as an identification code for data bases containing personal information such as financial and medical records. Once a state has obtained someone's SSN federal privacy laws generally do not apply thus opening up numerous opportunities for disclosure of highly personal information on anyone who registers to vote. Accordingly, the Courts have recognized that public disclosure of personal information must serve a compelling state interest. To the extent that a provision ''sweeps broader than necessary to advance electoral order,'' it impinges upon the fundamental right to vote and must be stricken.(see footnote 66) The NVRA itself provides adequate mechanisms to better monitor fraud prevention and detection, without the invasions of privacy inherent in the Horn Bill. Under H.R. 1428 the disclosure of an individual's social security number not only violates that individual's right to privacy, but it would also have a potentially chilling effect on voter registration.
In conclusion, MALDEF opposes H.R. 1428 because it effectively repeals the Motor Voter provisions of the NVRA, discriminates against minority groups, and contains an inaccurate and unworkable verification system. The right to vote is a fundamental right at the center of our democratic system. The Horn Bill proposes to limit certain members of society from participating in the electoral process and we therefore oppose its passage.
Page 182 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCAppendix 3.Prepared Statement of the American Council for Immigration Reform
Is Birth-Right Citizenship a Right? American law has long granted American citizenship to anyone born on American soil regardless of the status of the parents. Children of citizens and legal immigrants are citizens beyond a doubt. However, the automatic grant of citizenship to children born to illegal aliens or non-immigrants raises serious questions. We believe that H.R. 7, introduced by Rep. Brian Bilbray, answers these questions in a way that is both constitutional and necessary and support its passage.
The ability to distinguish between citizens and non-citizens is a fundamental attribute of sovereignty and of nationhood. In recognition of this, our Constitution, in Article I, Section 8, grants to Congress the power ''To establish a uniform rule of naturalization....''
Section I of the Fourteenth Amendment to our Constitution further states: ''All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States....'' This section overturned the Dred Scott decision and declared that former slaves and their progeny were American citizens. That the Congress and states intended much more than this is open to question. Just what did the framers of the amendment mean by ''subject to the jurisdictions thereof?''
Criminal Jurisdiction. All persons except accredited diplomats are subject to the criminal jurisdiction of the country in which they reside. This is a universal concept that has nothing to do with citizenship. Moreover, no jurisdiction has less to do with newbornsthey do not commit criminal acts! It is safe to say that this was not the kind of jurisdiction the Congress and states had in mind when they ratified the Fourteenth Amendment.
Page 183 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Diplomatic Jurisdiction. It is accepted international custom, recognized in English and American common law, and confirmed by the Supreme Court, that children born to diplomats are citizens of the country their parents represent. No constitutional amendment was necessary to make that distinction. Nevertheless, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (23 UST 3229) empowers the President to declare a diplomat persona non grata (Article 9).
Article 31 of that treaty, while establishing the diplomat's ''immunity from the criminal jurisdiction of the receiving State'', does not exempt the diplomat from that state's ''civil and administrative jurisdiction'' in the case of private ownership of real property, or private actions as an ''executor, administrator, heir or legatee,'' or in a ''professional or commercial activity.'' That's a lot of ''jurisdiction thereof'' but surely not the kind the framers of the 14th were thinking of.
American Indian Jurisdiction. How exceeding fine the Supreme Court can grind this issue is illustrated in an historic case brought by a Native American (Elk v. Wilkins 112 U.S. 94 (1884)). John Elk was born in a part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase that came to be called Nebraskaborn subject, one might say, to U.S. military jurisdiction. Nebraska, ''settled'' in 1823, accorded territorial status in 1854, and granted statehood in 1867, limited the vote to adult male citizens who were bona fide residents of the state for six months. Elk had renounced his tribal membership and by 1880 had lived in Omaha for over a year and claimed the right to vote in Nebraska since he was a U.S. citizen by birth based on the 14th Amendment.
Page 184 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC However, in a precedent, powerfully argued and never overturned, the Court ruled that despite his birth in the geographical area of the U.S., Elk was born to parents who owed their allegiance to a tribe of ''Indians not taxed'' and could only become a U.S. citizen by means of naturalization. Naturalization, the Court further asserted, meant not only formal renunciation of his old allegiance but ''acceptance by the United States of that renunciation....'' In effect they ruled that the citizenship of a child at birth depended on the allegiances of the parents. Though Elk's parents had far greater claims than any illegal alien (try deporting an American Indian), their allegiance to their tribe meant that their child was not born a U.S. citizen.
Legal Immigrant Jurisdiction. A legal immigrant to the United States, unlike a born or naturalized citizen, is still ''subject to the jurisdiction'' of the country of his or her birth in that he or she can be drafted for military service there and is entitled to benefits and privileges there that might be denied to an American citizen therethe right to vote, own property, attend public schools, obtain welfare, etc. But what of his or her child horn in the U.S.?
Child of Legal Immigrant Jurisdiction. Wong Kim Ark was born in California in 1873 to legal Chinese immigrant parents. But following a visit to China, he was denied re-entry into the U.S. because, it was asserted, he was not a citizen. In a 62 decision (U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark 169 U.S. 649 (1898)), the Supreme Court declared him a U.S. citizen since he was ''born ... in the U.S. and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.'' They based this decision on English common law, past American practice, and, obviously, the 14th Amendment.
American common law is descended from English common law and derives many of its precedents from it. But this emulation is not a slavish one. The argument in Wong, peculiarly, tied Section I of the Fourteenth Amendment to that segment of English common law which was based on a subject's allegiance to a king! Such citizenship, based on the place of birth, was designed to impose obligations to the king upon a child-subject. The involuntary nature of this remnant of feudalism is profoundly at odds with the American tradition of voluntary memberships and would seem to be among those aspects of English common law that we would have jettisonedas the British themselves did in 1983. Nevertheless, the Court's decision in this case appears just and appropriate.
Page 185 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Child of Illegal Immigrant Jurisdiction. But let us now turn to the question of whether the children of illegal immigrants and legal non-immigrants are entitled to citizenship. For the government has interpreted this decision to confer citizenship on the children of illegal immigrants and on the children of holders of non-immigrant visas (foreign students, temporary workers, tourists, etc.).
In 1868, when the 14th amendment was ratified (and in 1873, when Mr. Wong was born) there was hardly such a thing as an illegal immigrant and non-immigrants were not distinguished from legal immigrants but were probably limited to diplomats, journalists, and a few businessmen and adventurers. At that time, there were less than 40 million Americans, the frontier was still ''open,'' there was no border patrol, and welfare was mostly a limited province of the private sector. The framers of the Fourteenth Amendment surely did not imagine, let alone contemplate, a situation where hordes of aliens deliberately violate our borders and laws precisely in order to obtain public benefits that might accrue from the birth of a U.S.-citizen child.
By 1898, however, the concept of illegal immigrant was well understood and the Court was careful to note that Wong Kim Ark was a child of legal immigrants. They refer to the fact that the parents enjoyed a ''permanent domicile and residence'' (pp. 652, 653, 705), that the parents were ''domiciled residents'' (p. 651), and that the parents were ''domiciled in the U.S.'' (p. 696). The dictionary meaning of the word ''domicile'' is ''permanent legal residence.'' One can have many residences but only one domicile. Is it conceivable that an illegal immigrant here could have a permanent legal residence here?
Page 186 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC With 5,000 miles of land borders and many more miles of coastline, abundant immigrant and non-immigrant visas, modern communications and air travel, a policy designating children of illegal aliens and legal non-immigrants as citizens provides a loophole that endangers our very sovereignty. In 1992, an estimated 96,000 babies were born to illegal alien women in California at an initial cost to Californians of $230 million. As things stand now, giving birth to a U.S. citizen only takes a moment or two on any patch of U.S. soila future generation could wake up to discover that every parent on Earth had managed to find a way to give birth in the U.S.
The plain meaning of the Constitution can be extended to related situations not contemplated by the framersthe Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure, for example, has been extended to cover wiretaps. But can the meaning of an amendment be extended without limit? Did the framers of the 14th Amendment really mean to say: ''Alien! Break our laws, and we will reward you?'' Did they intend to threaten our sovereignty? Did they regard the Constitution as merely a cleverly-drawn contract for self-destruction? Surely not!
This discussion occurs against the background of the Citizenship USA scandals, the Mexican government's imposition of dual nationality upon their former citizens, full dual citizenship offered by other governments and a new awareness among still other countries that have never recognized the right of their citizens to voluntarily give up their citizenship. These have heightened concerns over the very meaning of American citizenship. They have magnified the importance of defining just what is an American citizen.
What did the framers of the Fourteenth Amendment mean by ''subject to the jurisdiction thereof?'' We believe if they came back today, they would point to H.R. 7 as an appropriate legislated definition. We therefore urge its adoption.
Page 187 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Now comes the hard part! There will have to be some procedures for confirming the status of newborns. Hospital workers and separatists may object to thisthey care for people, not nations. The U.S. government might offer to pay the hospital bills for the delivery and care of illegal alien babiesthe feds, after all, are responsible for the problem and many cash-strapped cities may respond to this. Indeed, there will have to be provision for the care of illegal alien babies that are born deformed or with serious genetic or other disorders.
We will have to urge parents-to-be to establish their status prior to hospitalization. The INS may have to assist in the identification process. A dual state and federal Birth Certification and Social Security Number process is another possibility. For babies found to be ineligible for citizen status, a special birth certificate might include a nationality block in which would be entered the nationality of the mother and/or the father. If the parents were found to be stateless, the child would be entitled to the same status we then assigned to the parents. In any case, we should study the methods used by other countries.
Constitutionality. It is argued that only a constitutional amendment is sufficient to change current practice. Obviously, we think legislation will be sufficient. Moreover, the constitutional amendment is unlikely to passthe American people just don't know the issue. Should legislation be overturned as unconstitutional, however, the publicity such a case would generate might make the constitutional approach feasible. Legislation is the obvious place to start.
There will be protests by the ''open border'' set. There will be cries of ''1800 Big Mommy'' and nonsense claims that having a child will now require government approval. But as Chief Justice Melville Fuller noted in his dissenting opinion in Wong: ''[American citizenship] is a precious heritage, as well as an inestimable acquisition.'' Millions have died or been maimed to defend the values we hold dear and the lives we live as U.S. citizens. Awarding American citizenship automatically to the children of aliens who break our laws or are just passing through, cheapens it beyond all recognition.
Page 188 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCAppendix 4.Prepared Statement by Germaine Q. Wong, San Francisco Director of Elections, Department of Elections, City and County of San Francisco, CA
Chairman Smith and Honorable Representatives. My name is Germaine Q. Wong, and I am the Director of Elections for the City and County of San Francisco. I have had the privilege of serving San Francisco in this capacity for over eight years. During this time, I have conducted numerous elections and observed others. I meet and communicate regularly with elections administrators throughout California, and, indeed, the entire nation.
As a native Californian, born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, I feel strongly that the integrity of elections is essential for us to have faith and trust in this most fundamental institution of our democracy It has been an honor for me to be able to directly contribute to the maintenance of the sanctity and honesty of this process.
Elections are very much run on the ''honor system,'' and it works. When people register to vote, they sign an affidavit under penalty of perjury that the information they provide is true. Elections officials do not question if the voter is a U.S. citizen any more than we question if s/he is at least 18 years of age or lives at the address s/he has written as her/his residence address. Yes, there are individual cases of people registering their underage child or pet animal, but these occurrences are probably more rare than drivers who run red lights or break speed limits. Orchestrated voter fraud is even less frequent.
In San Francisco, we have detected instances of voter registration fraud and voter fraud. We have received accusations that candidates do not practice the professions they claim when running for office. We have received accusations that voters do not live where they claim to live. We have even received accusations that voters are not U.S. citizens. In all of these situations, we inform the voter of the accusation and request substantiation. In almost all cases, the candidates and voters have been able to provide documentation of their status. We have also had voters voluntarily ask that their voter registration be canceled, because they had inadvertently filled out a voter registration card when completing a form for another agency, and/or they were misinformed about the requirement to register to vote. Whenever we do have circumstances which require investigation, we refer those cases to the District Attorney and/or the California Secretary of State. Some have resulted in successful prosecutions with substantial fines and probation sentences.
Page 189 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
In our most recent election on June 3rd, we suspected that someone voted fraudulently, and the case was immediately turned over to the District Attorney for investigation and further action as the facts warrant.
In Orange County, my colleague, Rosalyn Lever, referred cases of possible voter fraud to the Orange County District Attorney prior to the November 1996 election. Regardless of the victor or the margin of victory in the Dornan-Sanchez race, in the normal course of events, the District Attorney would have been conducting the investigation that he is now conducting.
My colleagues and I are in the business of conducting elections. We are not in the law enforcement business, and we don't want to be in the law enforcement business. When we suspect any type of election fraud, we refer the cases to the appropriate law enforcement agency. Law enforcement officials are the ones who are trained to investigate and to make a determination of action that needs to be taken.
As I understand H.R. 1428, this bill would allow my colleagues and me access to Social Security and INS records. We do not need such access. If a voter's citizenship is challenged, an election official would refer the case to a law enforcement agency, and my understanding is that law enforcement officials already have the right to access INS and the Social Security Administration for information about individuals, not only about voter qualifications, but for a wide variety of reasons.
H.R. 1428 is permissive, and not mandatory, but it's also not needed. The possibility of non-citizen voting is no greater than underage or non-resident voting. As I stated previously, we do not verify age or residence. Why should we single out citizenship more than the other requirements? If we were to require every registered voter on the voter roll to produce documentation to prove their age, residence, citizenship, etc., very few cases of fraud would be foundand probably most would be for a false residencefew for lack of age or U.S. citizenship. We certainly do not need to impose draconian measures on every voter to ferret out this tiny number of voters.
Page 190 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
We also don't need H.R. 1428. We don't want H.R. 1428. The system works. It doesn't need ''fixing.''
Honorable Representatives, thank you very much for the opportunity to present this statement for your consideration. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
CITIZENSHIP REFORM ACT OF 1997; AND VOTER ELIGIBILITY VERIFICATION ACT
IMMIGRATION AND CLAIMS
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
Page 191 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
CITIZENSHIP REFORM ACT OF 1997
VOTER ELIGIBILITY VERIFICATION ACT
JUNE 25, 1997
Serial No. 23
Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary
For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office
Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402
Page 192 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois, Chairman
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr., Wisconsin
BILL McCOLLUM, Florida
GEORGE W. GEKAS, Pennsylvania
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
LAMAR SMITH, Texas
STEVEN SCHIFF, New Mexico
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
CHARLES T. CANADY, Florida
BOB INGLIS, South Carolina
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
STEPHEN E. BUYER, Indiana
SONNY BONO, California
ED BRYANT, Tennessee
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio
BOB BARR, Georgia
WILLIAM L. JENKINS, Tennessee
ASA HUTCHINSON, Arkansas
EDWARD A. PEASE, Indiana
CHRISTOPHER B. CANNON, Utah
JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
BARNEY FRANK, Massachusetts
Page 193 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCCHARLES E. SCHUMER, New York
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
RICK BOUCHER, Virginia
JERROLD NADLER, New York
ROBERT C. SCOTT, Virginia
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
ZOE LOFGREN, California
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
MAXINE WATERS, California
MARTIN T. MEEHAN, Massachusetts
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
STEVEN R. ROTHMAN, New Jersey
THOMAS E. MOONEY, Chief of Staff-General Counsel
JULIAN EPSTEIN, Minority Staff Director
Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims
LAMAR SMITH, Texas, Chairman
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
SONNY BONO, California
WILLIAM L. JENKINS, Tennessee
EDWARD A. PEASE, Indiana
CHRISTOPHER B. CANNON, Utah
ED BRYANT, Tennessee
Page 194 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
CHARLES E. SCHUMER, New York
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
ZOE LOFGREN, California
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida
CORDIA A. STROM, Chief Counsel
EDWARD R. GRANT, Counsel
GEORGE FISHMAN, Counsel
MARTINA HONE, Minority Counsel
C O N T E N T S
June 25, 1997
TEXTS OF BILLS
Smith, Hon. Lamar, a Representative in Congress from the State of Texas, and chairman, Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims
Page 195 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Bhattacharjie, Gwat, Santa Barbara, CA
Bilbray, Hon. Brian P., a Representative in Congress from the State of California
Cain, Becky, president, League of Women Voters of the United States
Crank, Sandy, Associate Commissioner for Policy and Planning, Social Security Administration
Erler, Edward J., professor of political science, California State University at San Bernardino
Horn, Hon. Stephen, a Representative in Congress from the State of California
Johnsen, Dawn E., Acting Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice
LePore, Theresa, supervisor of elections, West Palm Beach County, FL
McAlpin, K.C., deputy director and chief operating officer, Federation for American Immigration Reform
Ogden, David W., Associate Deputy Attorney General, Department of Jus-tice
Peters, Philip, senior fellow, Alexis de Tocqueville Institution
Slater, Pam, supervisor, San Diego County Board of Supervisors
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
Bhattacharjie, Gwat, Santa Barbara, CA: Prepared statement
Bilbray, Hon. Brian P., a Representative in Congress from the State of California: Prepared statement
Cain, Becky, president, League of Women Voters of the United States: Prepared statement
Page 196 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Crank, Sandy, Associate Commissioner for Policy and Planning, Social Security Administration: Prepared statement
Erler, Edward J., professor of political science, California State University at San Bernardino: Prepared statement
Horn, Hon. Stephen, a Representative in Congress from the State of California: Prepared statement
Johnsen, Dawn E., Acting Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice:
Information concerning any case where specifically an illegal alien has been tried for treason
Kemp, Jack, cochairman, Alexis de Tocqueville Institution: Prepared statement
LePore, Theresa, supervisor of elections, West Palm Beach County, FL: Prepared statement
Lofgren, Hon. Zoe, a Representative in Congress from the State of California: Prepared statement
Ogden, David W., Associate Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice: Prepared statement
Peters, Philip, senior fellow, Alexis de Tocqueville Institute: Prepared statement
Slater, Pam, supervisor, San Diego County Board of Supervisors: Prepared statement
Stein, Dan, executive director, Federation for American Immigration Reform: Prepared statement
Page 197 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCAPPENDIXES
Appendix 1.Letter dated June 24, 1997, from James T. Beall, Jr., chair, Board of Supervisors, County of Santa Clara, CA
Appendix 2.Prepared statement of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
Appendix 3.Prepared statement of the American Council for Immigration Reform
Appendix 4.Prepared statement of Germaine Q. Wong., San Francisco director of elections, Department of Elections, City and County of San Francisco, CA
(Footnote 1 return)
Act of Apr. 9, 1866, ch. 31, 1, 14 Stat. 27.
(Footnote 2 return)
United States v. Rhodes, 27 F. Cas. 785, 789 (C.C.D. Ky. 1866) (No. 16,151) (Swayne, J., on circuit) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).
(Footnote 3 return)
Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393 (1857).
(Footnote 4 return)
The principal alternative system, jus sanguinis, used in most civil law European countries, grants citizenship by descent or bloodthat is, according to the citizenship of one's parents. This system obviously could not have operated in the United States at its inception, where, except for American Indians, the inhabitants were citizens of other countries.
(Footnote 5 return)
169 U.S. 649 (1898).
(Footnote 6 return)
Citizenship, 10 Op. Att'y Gen. 382, 394 (1862).
(Footnote 7 return)
Slaves, shamefully, not being considered persons at all for many legal purposes, were ignored by the common law analysis.
(Footnote 8 return)
E.g., Murray v. Schooner Charming Betsy, 6 U.S. (2 Cranch) 64, 119 (1804) (presuming that all persons born in the United States were citizens thereof); McCreery v. Somerville, 22 U.S. (9 Wheat.) 354 (1824) (in determining title to land in Maryland, Court assumed that children born in the state of an alien were native-born citizens of the United States); Lynch v. Clarke, 1 Sand. Ch. 583 (N.Y. 1844) (in holding that child born in New York during temporary stay by alien parents was a citizen of United States, Court, after thorough examination of law, concluded that it entertained no doubt that every person born within the dominions and allegiance of the United States, whatever the situation of his parents, was a natural-born citizen); Letter from Mr. Marcy, Secretary of State to Mr. Mason, United States Minister to France (June 6, 1854) in 2 Francis Wharton, Digest of the International Law of the United States 394 (2d ed. 1887) (''In reply to the inquiry which is made by you ... whether 'the children of foreign parents born in the United States, but brought to the country of which the father is a subject, and continuing to reside within the jurisdiction of their father's country, are entitled to protection as citizens of the United States,' I have to observe that it is presumed that, according to the common law, any person born in the United States, unless he be born in one of the foreign legations therein, may be considered a citizen thereof until he formally renounces his citizenship.''); Citizenship of Children Born in the United States of Alien Parents, 10 Op. Att'y Gen. 328 (1862) (child born in the United States of alien parents who have never been naturalized is, by fact of birth, a native-born citizen of the United States); Citizenship, 10 Op. Att'y Gen. 382 (1862) (reaffirming general principle of citizenship by birth in the United States and rejecting the existence under law of a class of persons intermediate between citizens and aliens); Frederick Van Dyne, Citizenship of the United States 67 (1904) (''It is beyond doubt that, before the enactment of the civil rights act of 1866 ... or the adoption of the constitutional amendment, all white persons, at least, born within the sovereignty of the United States, whether children of citizens or foreigners, excepting only children of ambassadors or public ministers of a foreign government, were native-born citizens of the United States.'' (citations omitted)).
(Footnote 9 return)
United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898); 4 Charles Gordon et al., Immigration Law and Procedure 92.03 (rev. ed. 1997). See footnote 12 for a discussion of the status of tribal Indians.
(Footnote 10 return)
Cong. Globe, 39th Cong., 1st Sess. 1115 (1866); Id. at 1117 (quoting William Rawle, A View of the Constitution of the United States of America 86 (2d ed. 1829)).
(Footnote 11 return)
Cong. Globe, 39th Cong., 1st Sess. 2890 (1866). In describing the discrete classes of persons excluded by the common law, Senator Howard noted that the citizenship clause would ''not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States.'' Id. This statement has erroneously been taken by some to indicate that Senator Howard intended to exclude all children born to ''foreigners'' and ''aliens.'' See Societal and Legal Issues Surrounding Children Born in the United States to Illegal Alien Parents: Joint Hearings on H.R. 705 et al. Before the Subcomm. on Immigration and Claims and the Subcomm. on the Constitution of the House Comm. on the Judiciary, 104th Cong. 115, 116 (1995) (prepared statement of Edward J. Erler, Professor of Political Science, California State University). This serious misreading of the transcription of Senator Howard's oral statement is squarely contradicted by the remainder of the debates and the Supreme Court's holding in United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898). Without a doubt, Senator Howard was referring to the traditional common law exception of persons who are both foreigners or aliens and belong to the families of accredited ambassadors or foreign ministers.
(Footnote 12 return)
See Cong. Globe, 39th Cong., 1st Sess. 289091 (1866).
A great deal of attention was spent on how (not whether) to exclude unassimilated or tribal Indians. Ultimately, any reference to ''excluding Indians not taxed''the phrase used in the Civil Rights Act of 1866was omitted as unnecessary, as they were not deemed to be ''subject to the jurisdiction'' of the United States because of the unique status of Indian tribes within the United States. In Elk v. Wilkins, 112 U.S. 94, 99 (1884), the Court construed the ''subject to the jurisdiction'' clause in a case brought by an Indian claiming citizenship who was born a member of a tribe, but who had later taken up residence among the non-Indian citizens of the state. The Court held he was not a United States citizen, because he was not ''subject to the jurisdiction'' of the United States at the time of his birth. In construing the phrase ''subject to the jurisdiction'' the Court noted that the Indian tribes, although not, strictly speaking, foreign nations, were alien nations with distinct political communities with which the United States entered into treaties:
Indians born within the territorial limits of the United States, members of, and owing immediate allegiance to, one of the Indian tribes (an alien, though dependent, power), although in a geographical sense born in the United States, are no more ''born in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,'' within the meaning of the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment, than the children of subjects of any foreign government born within the domain of that government, or the children born within the United States, of ambassadors or other public ministers of foreign nations.
Id. at 102. See also David C. Williams, The Borders of the Equal Protection Clause: Indians as Peoples, 38 UCLA L. Rev. 759, 83241 (1991) (reviewing the legislative history of the citizenship clause to conclude that ''subject to the jurisdiction'' was intended to exclude tribal Indians with separate laws and governments of their own, and thus were, ''in modern international law parlance, a separate people''). Wilkins cannot be interpreted to mean that children born in the United States of aliens are not ''subject to the jurisdiction'' of the United States because their parents may owe some allegiance to their own country of birth. Indeed, were the contrary to be true, dual nationality would be prohibited. Legal and illegal aliens alike simply enjoy no jurisdictional immunities from any laws of the United States as long as they are not part of the diplomatic personnel of a foreign country, and neither do their children.
The denial of citizenship to tribal Indians was later corrected by statute. See Act of June 2, 1924, ch. 233, 43 Stat. 253 (current version at 8 U.S.C. 1401(b) (1994)); see generally, Felix S. Cohen, Handbook of Federal Indian Law 640 & n. 7 (1982 ed.).
(Footnote 13 return)
169 U.S. 649 (1898).
(Footnote 14 return)
See Rogers v. Bellei, 401 U.S. 815, 82930 (1971) (citizenship clause is '' 'declaratory of existing rights, and affirmative of existing law,' so far as the qualifications of being born in the United States, being naturalized in the United States, and being subject to its jurisdiction are concerned''); Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez, 372 U.S. 144, 159 n.10 (1963) (confirming that the citizenship clause ''is to be interpreted in light of pre-existing common-law principles governing citizenship''); Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202, 211 n.10 (1982) (relying on Wong Kim Ark's predominantly geographic interpretation of the ''jurisdiction'' clause of the Fourteenth Amendment in holding Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause applicable to undocumented aliens, and noting that ''no plausible distinction with respect to Fourteenth Amendment 'jurisdiction' can be drawn between resident aliens whose entry into the United States was lawful, and resident aliens whose entry was unlawful''); INS v. Rios-Pineda, 471 U.S. 444, 446 (1985) (in habeas proceeding brought by deportable aliens, Court noted that respondent had given birth to a child, ''who, born in the United States, was a citizen of this country''); Morrison v. California, 291 U.S. 82, 85 (1933) (noting that although persons of Japanese descent were not eligible to become citizens through naturalization, a person of Japanese descent is a citizen of the United States if he was born within the United States, citing Wong Kim Ark); 4 Charles Gordon et al., Immigration Law and Procedure 92.03[e] (rev. ed. 1997) (noting that any uncertainty regarding the applicability of the jus soli rule to children born in this country was ''finally resolved by the Fourteenth Amendment and the Supreme Court's decision in U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark. There is now no doubt that the constitutional rule of universal citizenship for all persons born in the United States is unaffected by the status of their parents, except in minimal situations. Thus American citizenship is acquired by children born in the United States, even though their parents were always aliens, and even if the parents were themselves ineligible to become citizens of the United States. Nor has the acquisition of citizenship been affected by the circumstance that the child's alien parents were in the United States temporarily or even illegally at the time the child was born.'' (footnotes omitted)).
(Footnote 15 return)
Peter H. Schuck & Rogers M. Smith, Citizenship Without Consent: Illegal Aliens in the American Polity (1985).
(Footnote 16 return)
For critiques of Schuck and Smith's work, see, e.g., Christopher L. Eisgruber, Birthright Citizenship and the Constitution, 72 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 54 (1997); Gerald L. Neuman, Strangers to the Constitution: Immigrants, Borders, and Fundamental Law 16587 (1996); Gerald L. Neuman, Back to Dred Scott?, 24 San Diego L. Rev. 485 (1987) (book review); David Howarth, Citizenship Without Consent, 46 Cambridge L.J. 169, 170 (1987) (book review); Arthur C. Helton, Citizenship Without Consent, 19 N.Y.U. J. Int'l L. & Poll 221, 226 (1986) (book review); David A. Martin, Membership and Consent: Abstract or Organic?, 11 Yale J. Int'l Law 278 (1985) (book review).
(Footnote 17 return)
169 U.S. at 675.
(Footnote 18 return)
18 387 U.S. 253, 263 (1967).
(Footnote 19 return)
The deep historical roots of birthright citizenship, discussed throughout this testimony, would also advise against adopting the principles contained in H.R. 7 in an amendment to the Constitution. Because the Subcommittee is not considering such an amendment, we do not repeat here the arguments presented in our submission in December, 1995, to this Subcommittee and to the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the United States House of Representatives cautioning against such an amendment. Nor do we address the substantial administrative burden that would result from requiring proof of parentage and of the citizenship or immigration status of parents for every person claiming citizenship by right of birth.
(Footnote 20 return)
Congressional Globe, 39th Cong., 1st Sess., 2890. See Slaughter-House Cases, 83 U.S. 36, 73 (1873) where Justice Samuel Miller, writing for the majority, noted that ''[t]he phrase 'subject to its jurisdiction' was intended to exclude from its operation children of ministers, consuls and citizens or subjects of foreign states born within the United States.''
(Footnote 21 return)
(Footnote 22 return)
Ibid., 39th Cong., 1st Sess., 2893 (1866).
(Footnote 23 return)
Ibid., at 2895.
(Footnote 24 return)
Senate Report No. 268, 41st Cong., 3rd Sess (1870), at 10.
(Footnote 25 return)
Elk v. Wilkins, 112 U.S. 94, at 102.
(Footnote 26 return)
Ibid. at 99.
(Footnote 27 return)
Ibid. at 101.
(Footnote 28 return)
Ibid. at 103.
(Footnote 29 return)
Ibid. at 104.
(Footnote 30 return)
Documents of United States Indian Policy, 2nd ed. revised, Frances Paul Prucha, ed. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990), at 218.
(Footnote 31 return)
Congressional Globe, 40th Cong., 2nd Sess. (1868), at 4211.
(Footnote 32 return)
Ibid., at 868 (Rep. Woodward, Penn.); Rep. Bailey of New York described birth-right citizenship as ''the slavish feudal doctrine of perpetual allegiance'' at Id., 967. Similar arguments were pervasive in the debate.
(Footnote 33 return)
Commentaries on the Laws of England (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979 [Facsimile of the 1st ed. of 1765]), Vol. I, pp. 3578.
(Footnote 34 return)
Papers of James Madison, Vol. 17:326.
(Footnote 35 return)
Congressional Globe, 40th Cong. 2nd Sess. (1868), 969.
(Footnote 36 return)
(Footnote 37 return)
United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649, 708 (1898).
(Footnote 38 return)
Ibid., at 71011.
(Footnote 39 return)
(Footnote 40 return)
National Voter Registration Act.
(Footnote 41 return)
Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, 301(a); 8 U.S.C.A. 1401(a) (West Supp. 1997).
(Footnote 42 return)
Jus soli is the legal principle that bases citizenship on place of birth. In contrast, jus sanguinis is the legal principle that bases citizenship on the nationality of one's parents. Black's Law Dictionary 775 (5th ed. 1979).
(Footnote 43 return)
United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649, 693 (1898).
(Footnote 44 return)
(Footnote 45 return)
In Elk v. Wilkins, 112 U.S. 94 (1884), an Indian who was born in an Indian tribe but was living outside the tribe asserted a claim to U.S. citizenship. The Supreme Court held that the Indian was not a citizen because he was not ''subject to the jurisdiction'' of the United States when he was born. Id. at 99. The Court reached this decision based on the following reasoning:
Indians born within the territorial limits of the United States, member of, and owing immediate allegiance to, one of the Indian tribes (an alien, though dependent, power), although in a geographical sense born in the United States, are no more ''born in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,'' within the meaning of the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment, than the children of subjects of any foreign government born within the domain of that government, or the children born within the United States, of ambassadors or other public ministers of foreign nations.
Id. at 102. The denial of citizenship to tribal Indians was changed by Congress through legislation. See Act of June 2, 1924, ch. 233, 43 Stat. 253 (current law at 8 U.S.C.A 1401(b) (West Supp. 1997)).
(Footnote 46 return)
Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. at 649.
(Footnote 47 return)
Ch. 126, 22 Stat. 58 (1882); Ch. 220, 23 Stat. 115 (1884); Ch. 1015, 25 Stat. 476 (1888); Ch. 1064, 25 Stat. 504 (1888); Ch. 60, 27 Stat. 25 (1892); Ch. 641, 32 Stat. 176 (1902); and Ch. 1630, 33 Stat. 428 (1904).
(Footnote 48 return)
Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. at 703.
(Footnote 49 return)
Id. at 693.
(Footnote 50 return)
Id. at 687; for the exceptions to the board rule see supara text accompanying note 8.
(Footnote 51 return)
Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982).
(Footnote 52 return)
(Footnote 53 return)
Id. at 212.
(Footnote 54 return)
(Footnote 55 return)
See, e.g., Bolling v. Sharpe, 347 U.S. 497 (1954).
(Footnote 56 return)
Weber v. Aetna Casualty, 406 U.S. 164 (1972).
(Footnote 57 return)
(Footnote 58 return)
''Illegitimate'' children are defined by legal terms as children born to parents who are alive but not married. Black's Law Dictionary 673 (5th ed. 1979).
(Footnote 59 return)
Weber, 406 U.S. at 173; see also Wallach v. Van Riswick, 92 U.S. 202, 210 (1876) (protecting children of persons convicted of treason from loss of inheritance because of their parents' conduct).
(Footnote 60 return)
Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356 (1886) (holding Fourteenth Amendment applies to any person within the jurisdiction of the U.S. without regard to nationality).
(Footnote 61 return)
457 U.S. 202 (1982).
(Footnote 62 return)
Id. at 220.
(Footnote 63 return)
While the power to determine who can marry is not delegated to the Federal Government and therefore falls to the States, the States must still ensure that State marriage laws do not fall afoul of other prohibitions contained within the Constitution. For example, in Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), the Supreme Court found unconstitutional a State marriage law which prohibited miscegenation since the law was obviously ''designed to maintain White Supremacy.'' Id. at 11.
(Footnote 64 return)
Reynolds v. Sims, 377 U.S. 533, 555 (1964).
(Footnote 65 return)
John Warren McGarry, Federal Election Commission, The Impact of The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 on the Administration of Elections for Federal Office 19951996 4 (1997).
(Footnote 66 return)
See Greidinger v. Davis, No. 921571, 1993 U.S. App. LEXIS 5774 at 1 (4th Cir. Mar. 22, 1993).