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Fiorina opposes changing 14th Amendment

August 12, 2010 | 12:00 pm

U.S. Senate nominee Carly Fiorina weighed in on the controversial issue of 'birthright citizenship' Thursday, stating that she did not agree with the recent calls by some conservatives to alter the 14th amendment, which grants citizenship to all people born in the United States.

“I don’t think that’s a useful dialogue -- I don’t support changing the 14th Amendment,” Fiorina said after speaking to a convention of California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce in downtown Los Angeles Thursday. “I think what we need to do is have the federal government do its job and secure the border and have a temporary worker program that works. And all the rest of it is a distraction and, unfortunately, an emotional distraction.”

Legislation altering the 14th Amendment has gained little traction in recent years in Congress. But Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, reenergized debate over the issue when he said he was exploring changes to the constitutional amendment so that it would no longer automatically give American citizenship to children of illegal immigrants born in this country.

Graham, who had earlier been one of the leaders in crafting legislation that would have provided a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the U.S., said during a recent interview on Fox News that the amendment made sense when it was adopted after the Civil War to ensure citizenship to freed slaves, particularly in southern states.

But the South Carolina senator said he was exploring changes to prevent a new "wave" of illegal immigration, because he is concerned that “thousands of people are coming across the Arizona/Texas border for the express purpose of having a child in an American hospital so that child will become an American citizen.”

“I want to put on the table fixing immigration so we don't have a third wave in the future,” Graham said during an appearance on Greta Van Susteren’s show “On the Record.” “We went from 3 to 12 million in the last 20 years. Twenty years from now, I don't want to have 20 million. So I think we ought to have a logical discussion. Is this the way to award American citizenship, sell it to somebody who's rich? Reward somebody who breaks the law? I think we need to look at it really closely.”

-- Maeve Reston in Los Angeles