Birthright citizenship debate has major implications for DFW

Professor James F. Hollifield, director of SMU's John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies, talks with The Fort Worth Star-Telegram about the debate over birthright citizenship and its affect on the DFW area.

FORT WORTH — The roiling national debate over whether to stop granting automatic citizenship for babies born in the U.S. to illegal immigrants reverberates loudly across Tarrant County.

Nearly three-quarters of the 7,000 babies born annually at John Peter Smith Hospital are delivered to the undocumented. The county hospital ranks third among Texas facilities for such births.

The possibility — no matter how remote — of losing the birthright granted by the 14th Amendment is alarming to the millions of immigrants in families that have taken advantage of birthright citizenship for more than a century. . .

The 14th Amendment was added three years after the Civil War ended to allow former slaves to become U.S. citizens. It was not designed to deal with immigration but has become a central feature of immigration law and policy, said James. F. Hollifield, a professor and director of the Tower Center for Political Studies at Southern Methodist University.

The amendment affects not only immigrants but also African-Americans and all other minorities, he said.

"It has become part of our constitutional fabric in a way," he said. "Messing with it will open up a Pandora's box politically and constitutionally."

Read the full story.

# # #