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Church Group Opposed to New Immigration Proposal Affecting Babies

January 27, 2011|6:40 am

A newly proposed Georgia state legislation has a church group fearful that it will be similar to or even go beyond Arizona’s current immigration law by affecting babies born to undocumented mothers.

Georgia state lawmakers on Wednesday filed immigration legislation similar to that of Arizona to be considered for ratification. The bill also proposes to bar babies born to undocumented mothers from becoming American citizens.

An open letter from the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service expressed concern about Georgia and 20 other state legislatures that are proposing bills that would offer punitive treatment to undocumented immigrants and their young children.

According to the LIRS, a handful of state legislators, including Arizona, have announced plans to introduce legislation in their respective states to restrict or repeal the Fourteenth Amendment, the part of the U.S. Constitution which guarantees that children born in the United States are American citizens.

"For people of faith committed to loving the sojourners in their congregations and communities as God instructs, it is devastating to see immigrants and their children placed at further risk," stated Jeffrey Hawks, LIRS assistant director for education and outreach, in the Tuesday letter.

In April 2010, the Arizona state legislature first began pushing the envelope by passing the controversial Support our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act. The Act required state and local law enforcement officials to determine the immigration status of any individual they “reasonably suspect” of being in the United States illegally.

The law raised fears among immigrant communities that they could be profiled, taken away from their family and friends, and deported at any time. However, President Barack Obama stepped in, blocking some of the bill’s provisions in federal court.

Obama was an ardent supporter of the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act during last month’s lame duck session. He rallied members of his cabinet, namely education secretary Arne Duncan, to urge support for the bill.

The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives, but was blocked in the Senate.

During Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Obama expressed his desire to create a pathway to citizenship for young immigrants.

“Let’s stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses, and further enrich this nation,” he urged.

He also pledged a bi-partisan attempt to solve other immigration issues.

“I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration,” he stated. “I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows.”

LIRS Director for Advocacy Eric B. Sigmon expressed appreciation for Obama’s efforts. “We appreciate the president’s continued support of the DREAM act and immigration reform.”

However, critics say the president is making empty promises.

Without national solutions to immigration, more states are taking a hardened stance on the issue.

The Georgia legislation would require law enforcement officers to, when enforcing other laws, try to determine an individual's immigration status if an officer "develops reasonable suspicion" that the person is an illegal immigrant, according to The Associated Press.

Upon confirming that such a person is an illegal immigrant, the officer would be authorized to arrest that person and take him or her to a federal jail.

The bill would also impose penalties on people who encourage an illegal immigrant to come to Georgia or who transport or hide illegal immigrants once they're in the state.

Arizona is going a step further. According to Fox News reports, state legislators will hear the introduction of bills denying citizenship to U.S.-born babies of undocumented immigrants Thursday.

The proposal seems to be in direct opposition to the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.

The 14th amendment states 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 amendment also bars states from imposing any law that would upend the privileges and immunities of citizens’ rights.

"For people of faith committed to loving the sojourners in their congregations and communities as God instructs, it is devastating to see immigrants and their children placed at further risk," stated Jeffrey Hawks, LIRS assistant director for education and outreach, in the Tuesday letter.

Sigmon said the group will mobilize interfaith partners to take on both bills.

“We plan to mobilize where we can in states that would seek to copy cat the Arizona law or repeal or [revise] the14th amendment,” he assured.

Source URL : http://www.christianpost.com/news/church-group-worried-about-proposed-immigration-policy-affecting-babies-48684/