Senate Proposal Would Amend Constitution to Restrict Birthright Citizenship

Two Republican senators have introduced a constitutional amendment that would prohibit the children of illegal immigrants from gaining automatic U.S. citizenship unless certain conditions are met.

The move by Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and David Vitter, R-La., follows a proposal in Arizona challenging the constitutional right known as "birthright citizenship."

Under U.S. law, anybody born on U.S. soil is considered a citizen. The proposal in Congress would amend the Constitution so that children born in the United States are only considered automatic citizens if one parent is a U.S. citizen, one parent is a legal immigrant, or one parent is an active member of the Armed Forces. They could also follow the traditional naturalization process to attain citizenship.

"Citizenship is a privilege, and only those who respect our immigration laws should be allowed to enjoy its benefits," Paul said in a written statement.

But any constitutional amendment stands a slim chance of passing, as it would have to be approved by a two-thirds majority in both chambers of Congress and ratified by three-quarters of the state legislatures. Plus critics of the push say it won't address the problem of illegal immigration and would be struck down in the courts anyway.

"To me, it's unconscionable," said Brent Wilkes, national director for the League of United Latin American Citizens, in reference to the earlier Arizona measure. That proposal followed another similar bill in the Indiana General Assembly.

"For folks to try to propose another law that contravenes this at the state level, that's illegal," Wilkes told Fox News.

But Vitter suggested the guarantee that children of illegal immigrants become citizens is driving up illegal immigration in the United States.

"Closing this loophole will not prevent them from becoming citizens, but will ensure that they have to go through the same process as anyone else who wants to become an American citizen," he said.