If Republicans seriously want to amend the Constitution to do away with birthright citizenship, they’re right about one thing: the first place to start is with Congressional hearings. Today, in a statement to TPMDC, the senator who would chair those hearings says that’s not gonna happen.
“We can and should address the problem of illegal immigration head-on without amending the Constitution,” says Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI). “The way to do that is to pass bipartisan comprehensive legislation improving border security, protecting American jobs and addressing those currently in the country illegally. It is past time for Congress to resume the bipartisan effort that was started by President Bush and enact meaningful federal immigration reform.”
In response to a push by rank and file Republicans to prevent children of illegal immigrants from being granted citizenship, GOP leaders are pressing for official hearings on changing the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Feingold chairs the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, where those hearings would be held and the process of amending the Constitution would likely begin.
These political theatrics are mostly designed to fire up the GOP base. After all, any proposed Constitutional amendment would require the support of a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate, and would then need to be approved by three-fourths of all state legislatures.
But if they were hoping they’d be offered a more prominent platform to highlight this issue, looks like they’re out of luck.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.