Senator seeks to end 'birthright citizenship'

Greg Nash

Sen. David VitterDavid VitterOvernight Energy: Trump outlines 'America First' energy plan in North Dakota Paul blocks chemical safety bill in Senate House Republican pushes bill to 'curb regulatory overreach' MORE (R-La.) is pushing to end "birthright citizenship" in legislation aimed at combatting human trafficking.

Under current law, if a person is born in the United States, they are considered a citizen. Vitter wants to change that, arguing the promise has given rise to "birth tourism."

"This is a very real, in fact, exploding phenomenon. There is a whole industry, an underworld, that is selling so-called birth tourism," he said. "This acts as a magnet, a potent, powerful magnet, growing in power by the year to lure more and more folks to come across the border, in specific cases to have their babies here."

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Under Vitter's amendment, a child born in the United States would be considered a citizen if at least one parent is a citizen, has a green card, or has served in the military.

The Louisiana Republican wants to attach the amendment to the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, which would boost resources for law enforcement and start a fund for victims of human trafficking.

He argued that amendment is relevant to the legislation because it is related to immigration.

"It addresses a very, very serious problem with our broken immigration system, and also a problem that leads to serious abuse and trafficking," he said, "which is why it is certainly relevant and pertinent in this ongoing discussion of the bill on the floor."

Wednesday's amendment isn’t the first time Vitter has suggested adjusting citizenship requirements. Civil rights groups are accusing the senator of trying to create a "modern-day caste system."

"For the first time since the end of the Civil War, the Vitter amendment would aim to create two tiers of citizenship — a modern-day caste system — with potentially millions of natural-born Americans being treated as somehow less than entitled to the equal protection of the laws that our nation has struggled so hard to guarantee," the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights coalition, which includes more than 200 groups, said in a letter to Vitter Wednesday.

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