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June 8, 2006

The U.S. House of Representatives considered several pieces of immigration legislation yesterday in connection with H.R. 5441, the Homeland Security Appropriations Act.  Chief among the measures was an amendment offered by Nathan Deal (R-GA) that would attempt to eliminate birthright citizenship, that is, the automatic acquisition of U.S. citizenship simply by being born within the geographical boundaries of the United States.  The elimination of birthright citizenship has long been a goal of immigration restrictionists such as Tom Tancredo (R-CO) and his Immigration Reform Caucus, of which Deal is a member.  The Deal amendment was effectively defeated and was not attached to the Appropriations Act.  The one piece of immigration legislation that was approved for attachment to the Appropriations Act was an amendment that bars the use of certain federal funds by states and municipalities that have established so-called “immigration sanctuaries”–confidentiality provisisions that prevent state or local employees from disclosing an individual’s immigration status.  The King/Campbell amendment passed by a vote of 218-179 and, if signed into law, is likely to be a deterrent for state and local governments who believe that law enforcement, medical care, and other services are better accomplished by staying out of immigration enforcement.