The birthright legislation has taken a backseat after lawmakers convened in a special session Monday to tackle a bill that aims to cut taxes as a way to attract businesses to Arizona.
It’s not a tactical retreat, birthright-legislation supporters say, but rather a question of timing.
Rather than have the Senate delve into two big pieces of legislation this week — the so-called jobs bill and the measures on American citizenship — Sen. Andy Biggs, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, decided to pull the birthright proposal from the panel’s agenda for Tuesday.
Biggs noted that it took the Senate Judiciary Committee a few hours on Feb. 7 to go through the arguments and counter-arguments on the legislation. He surmised it would probably take just as long to go through the two-bill proposal in the Appropriations Committee.
“So no need to put that controversial bill on while we’re doing special session in the last week of the other committees (to hear bills),” Biggs said.
This is the last week that Senate committees can hear Senate bills; it is therefore the heaviest week in terms of workload.
The Appropriations Committee, however, has an extra week to hear Senate measures.
Biggs said he will add the birthright legislation to next week’s agenda instead.
The birthright measures are designed to trigger litigation that supporters hope would reach the U.S. Supreme Court. U.S. policy has been to grant automatic citizenship to almost all babies born in the United States, even if their parents are in the country illegally.
Supporters of the birthright bills want the high court to revisit the issue of American citizenship and ultimately to deny it to children born to illegal immigrants.
The legislation is part of a national strategy by policymakers who support a strict-enforcement approach to confront illegal immigration.
But the proposal also opens a new front in the complex and often emotional debate about illegal immigration, as it seeks to re-define who is an American.
The legislation suffered a setback on Feb. 7 when Sen. Ron Gould, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and primary author of the two birthright bills, held them in his committee after concluding they did not have enough votes to pass.
Senate President Russell Pearce, author of SB1070, decided to reassign the two bills to the Appropriations Committee, where he said they have sufficient support to get approval.
As introduced, SB1309 creates and defines an “Arizona citizenship.” The second measure, SB1308, will direct Arizona’s governor to enter the state into a compact with other states to essentially create two sets of birth certificates, one for children whose parents are here illegally, and another for those whose parents are citizens or who are in the country legally.