Immigration and Citizenship

Branstad flips view on linking immigrant benefits, kids’ status



Republican candidate for governor Bob Vander Plaats says he supports denying state benefits such as in-state college tuition to children of illegal immigrants, even if the children were born in the United States.

Former Gov. Terry Branstad said the same thing Saturday but backtracked Tuesday.

Some scholars, citing “very strong” precedent, say the Constitution is clear that children born in the United States are citizens and entitled to services. A more pertinent question, they say, is how far states can go in limiting benefits for illegal immigrants and children not born in the United States.

Vander Plaats, Branstad and state Rep. Rod Roberts said Saturday during a debate for Republican candidates for governor that they would work to ensure state services go only to people in Iowa legally.

Each supported barring children of illegal immigrants from qualifying for in-state tuition for Iowa’s state universities and community colleges.

Vander Plaats, a Sioux City businessman, said after the debate that he also would not allow in-state tuition for native-born children of illegal immigrants.

“I’m not sure how many cases like those there are,” Vander Plaats said after the debate. “But again, if the parents are here illegally, the issue you need to address is the adults in the situation.”

Branstad also said Saturday that he would prohibit in-state tuition for children born in the United States to illegal immigrants. But on Tuesday morning, he said he would have to consider the constitutionality of such a step. Tuesday afternoon, a campaign aide said Branstad had reconsidered.

“If they are born here, they are legal residents,” Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht said. “If they are, they should be afforded every opportunity as every legal resident of the state.”

Roberts, also asked Saturday about in-state tuition, stopped short of saying U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants should not qualify.

Immigration has flared as an election-year issue, especially in light of Arizona’s strict new law.

Constitutional scholars say Vander Plaats’ call to deny benefits to those born in the United States runs counter to the Constitution’s 14th Amendment.

“Denying people born here full access to public services is quite problematic,” said Mark Kende, who teaches constitutional law at the Drake University Law School. “They would seem to be, by definition, citizens of the state. And denying them access would seem to constitute discrimination.”

Illegal immigrants are largely barred from accessing state-funded health insurance for children and low-income residents. They can receive access to temporary, emergency coverage by Medicaid, the federal health care program for poor people that is administered by the state. But few illegal immigrants take advantage of the access, state officials said.

Illegal immigrants are also ineligible for the federal food stamp program, which is administered by the states.

However, children who are illegal immigrants have unfettered access to education because of a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court case, University of Iowa law professor William Buss said.

The court ruled 5-4 in Plyler v. Doe that children of illegal immigrants could not be kept out of public schools. More important, Buss said, the court ruled unanimously that illegal immigrants were persons under the 14th Amendment and entitled to protection under the law.

The court “said that these kids are going to be around whether they are in school or not and that they are going to be better off if they are in school,” Buss said.

Roberts said Iowans should not be responsible for supporting illegal immigrants and could curb the influx by cutting off services they can receive.

“If they are here illegally, we should say no to providing benefits, remove the incentive for being here and they will relocate somewhere else,” Roberts said in the debate.

Gov. Chet Culver, a Democrat, would not penalize children of undocumented parents, whether the children were born here or not, said his campaign manager, Donn Stanley.

“The values and faith the governor has says we shouldn’t let little kids go hungry, die from lack of medical care or go without education because their parents did something wrong,” Stanley said.

Conservatives such as Rep. Steve King, R-Ia., have endorsed abolishing birthright citizenship. King has co-sponsored a measure in the House that would allow citizenship for a child born in the United States only if the parents are citizens.

The issue also has surfaced in Iowa’s 3rd District congressional race. Mark Rees, a West Des Moines Republican, is open to amending the Constitution to end automatic citizenship for native-born children, campaign aides said.

“Mark would be in support of language that clarifies the 14th (Amendment) to not be interpreted as granting automatic citizenship to children of illegal immigrants solely because they were born upon U.S. soil,” Rees campaign manager Nathan Treloar said.

Elizabeth Wydra, chief counsel for the Constitutional Accountability Center in Washington, D.C., said that although such an amendment is unlikely, the movement is “a matter of concern.”

“But I would say the 14th Amendment doesn’t contemplate different classes of U.S.-born citizens. The text and court precedent are very strong on that,” Wydra said.


Read the original article here.



More from Immigration and Citizenship

Immigration and Citizenship
June 3, 2024

Improper DHS Appointment Voids Asylum Rule, Groups Argue

Law360 (June 3, 2024, 8:43 PM EDT) -- Two immigrant advocacy groups suing the federal...
By: Brian R. Frazelle, Ali Sullivan
Immigration and Citizenship
June 23, 2023

RELEASE: Supreme Court Decision Allows Administration to Prioritize Certain Noncitizens for Immigration Enforcement, as Presidential Administrations Have Done for Decades

WASHINGTON, DC – Following the Supreme Court’s announcement of its decision this morning in United...
By: Smita Ghosh
Immigration and Citizenship
January 17, 2023

RELEASE: Supreme Court Considers Access to Courts for Asylum-Seekers

WASHINGTON, DC – Following oral argument at the Supreme Court this morning in Santos-Zacaria v....
By: Smita Ghosh
Immigration and Citizenship
November 29, 2022

RELEASE: Justices Acknowledge the Federal Government’s Authority over Immigration Enforcement When Confronted With State Opposition

WASHINGTON, DC – Following oral argument at the Supreme Court this morning in United States...
By: Smita Ghosh
Immigration and Citizenship
September 19, 2022

RELEASE: Biden Administration Memo Setting Priorities for Immigration Enforcement Is Lawful, Group of Former DHS and INS Officials Tell Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, DC – Earlier today, the Constitutional Accountability Center (CAC) filed a brief in the...
By: Smita Ghosh
Immigration and Citizenship
U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Texas

In United States v. Texas, the Supreme Court considered whether Department of Homeland Security guidance on immigration enforcement priorities is lawful.