National Latino organizations have criticized the GOP effort to repeal birthright citizenship from the U.S. Constitution.

Republican congressional lawmakers such as Rep. Steve King of Iowa introduced in January a bill to end birthright citizenship, and the House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Wednesday afternoon on the subject.

As the American Immigration Council noted, "The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution 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.' Based on this, the Supreme Court has upheld birthright citizenship for children of foreigners several times-holding that the Fourteenth Amendment means what it says, especially in light of its history."

The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), a nonpartisan coalition of national Latino organizations and leaders, released a statement stating denying birthright citizenship "would abandon constitutional principles of equality and liberty, reinstate widespread discrimination."

"Such legislation would result in an underclass of Latinos that would be subject to disparate and adverse treatment based solely on their ethnicity, the national origin and race of their parents, and signal a return to a pre-Civil War constitutional era," the NHLA statement continued.

"The introduction of H.R. 140, the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2015 by Rep. Steven King, and proposals like it, represent only the latest efforts to undermine well-settled constitutional and civil rights values in an attempt to eliminate and curtail the rights of Latinos. These proposals must be vigorously rejected," added the NHLA.

The NHLA -- which represents groups including the Hispanic National Bar Association, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, the National Association of Hispanic Federal Executives, the National Council of La Raza and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce -- said the removal of birthright citizenship would be a threat to U.S. Latinos' civil rights and impact their ability to participate in society.

"Rather than waste valuable time considering such divisive policy proposals, we urge Congress to consider bipartisan approaches to reforming our broken immigration system that will allow the 11 million undocumented immigrants in our nation, including DREAMers and agricultural workers, to earn legal status and then citizenship," said the NHLA.

The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund's Executive Director Arturo Vargas submitted written testimony to the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security on the topic, and stated the proposal -- if adopted -- would be an "unwelcome message" to the Latino community that Congress do not value the community's contributions.

"Preventing the children of undocumented and temporary legal immigrants from receiving citizenship would create a permanent underclass of Americans who share our culture, language, and aspirations, but are unable to contribute fully to our economy and democracy," wrote Vargas.

He continued, "Some of these members of our society would, through no fault of their own, suffer lifelong stigma and exclusion as stateless individuals. As a result, our nation would experience the serious and dangerous problems which have beset the nations that have pursued similar policies to restrict or end birthright citizenship -- the presence of a significant segment of the population with immigrant origins who can never be fully integrated into American society."

Vargas said ending birthright citizenship would impose administrative and financial burdens on American families on local, state and federal levels of government and increase bureaucracy.

To watch the "Birthright Citizenship: Is It The Right Policy for America" hearing, click here.


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