LOS ANGELES – Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel of MALDEF, issued the statement below in response to a radical proposal by Republican Sens. David Vitter (La.) and Rand Paul (Ky.) that flies in the face of the Fourteenth Amendment’s grant of citizenship to those born in the United States of America. The constitutional right of citizenship at birth, rooted in the hard-fought American values of fairness and equality, should not be subject to political and discriminatory whims. The Vitter-Paul proposal would strip the long-standing grant of citizenship to all born on U.S. soil, and would limit citizenship to those (1) with a parent who is a U.S. citizen; (2) with a parent who is a lawful permanent resident residing in the U.S. or serving on active-duty in the U.S. Armed Forces; or (3) naturalized under immigration law.
Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel:
"There are few elements of our Constitution more sacrosanct than the Fourteenth Amendment, enacted after great struggle and following the bloody Civil War. Our nation's extraordinarily accomplished early history is marred by a pattern of legally-sanctioned exclusion and racism. The ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment -- and its Citizenship Clause in particular -- permanently altered this extraordinarily regrettable pattern. This week's introduction of a proposed constitutional amendment to return this nation to its pre-Civil War infamy will earn a permanent place in the annals of shameful senatorial conduct.
“Still, MALDEF is confident that the American people and their representatives will resoundingly defeat this contemptible proposal. We urge Senators David Vitter and Rand Paul to recognize that their oath to uphold the Constitution demands fidelity to our nation's deepest, hard-fought values and rejection of any nostalgic retrogression to caste-based exclusions."
Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation’s leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the “law firm of the Latino community,” MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access.