Unlike the recent suggestions of President Donald Trump, you cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order. Or even a bill in Congress. So says the Constitution. But don’t trust this president or the next Congress to necessarily agree with the plain meaning of these words. Or future federal officials. Or even the federal courts. Because unbeknownst to most Americans, for more than a century all three branches of government have perpetuated an unconstitutional denial of birthright citizenship. On Wednesday, the Trump administration will appear in federal court to defend the ability of the political branches to unilaterally restrict the Constitution’s guarantee of birthright citizenship. No, it will not be to defend an executive order or congressional statute denying citizenship to U.S.-born children of unauthorized immigrants. Rather, in Fitisemanu v. United States, the administration is defending the unconstitutional denial of birthright citizenship in U.S. territories before the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah. Many assume that the overwhelming bipartisan consensus condemning the constitutionality of Trump’s plan to restrict birthright citizenship by executive order or congressional statute makes such plans dead on arrival. Simply put, the original understanding of the Citizenship Clause requires recognizing all born on U.S. soil as citizens (the only narrow exceptions are for the children of foreign diplomats, enemy soldiers, or certain Indian tribes). An unbroken line of Supreme Court precedent agrees.
Advocates for immigrants and voting rights filed a federal lawsuit Monday demanding information from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. The groups believe that the Trump administration is engaged in deliberate foot-dragging to potentially slow new citizens from registering as Democrats. According to federal figures, 6.6 million people followed the process and became eligible to vote in the decade before 2012. Plaintiffs said the flow has since hit a roadblock. “They have at least doubled the amount of time it takes to become a citizen,” said Peter Schey, president of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law.
After two days of confusion — with some but not all county election officials enforcing a Kansas voting restriction struck down by a federal judge Monday — the Kansas Secretary of State’s office instructed local officials Wednesday that proof-of-citizenship was not required to register to vote. The instructions marked the end — or at least a pause — in a years-long saga of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach fighting tooth and nail to keep his signature voter restriction alive, despite multiple court rulings against it. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson issued her order Monday, after a seven-day trial in March, declaring the proof-of-citizenship requirement a violation of both the National Voter Registration Act as well as the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.
A federal judge has struck down a Kansas voter citizenship law that Secretary of State Kris Kobach had personally defended. Judge Julie Robinson also ordered Kobach, who is seeking the Republican nomination for governor, to take more hours of continuing legal education after he was found in contempt and was frequently chided during the trial over missteps. In an 118-page ruling Monday, Robinson ordered a halt to the state’s requirement that people provide proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. The decision holds the potential to make registration easier as the August and November elections approach. Robinson’s ruling amounted to a takedown of the law that Kobach had championed and lawmakers approved several years ago. She found that it “disproportionately impacts duly qualified registration applicants, while only nominally preventing noncitizen voter registration.”
Missouri: Proposed constitutional amendment would exclude non-citizens from redistricting | Columbia Missourian
A Senate committee passed a resolution Thursday that would exclude non-citizens from the state’s population count when it comes to redistricting. House Joint Resolution 100, sponsored by Rep. Dean Plocher, R-St. Louis, would make it so only U.S. citizens are counted in the population used in reapportionment. While Plocher received criticism from witnesses who said the proposal treats non-citizens as unequal, he said this measure would actually encourage people to become U.S. citizens faster.
California: Non-citizens voting in San Francisoc school board elections to get immigration warning | The San Francisco Examiner
San Francisco’s implementation of non-citizen voting in school board elections this November will come with a warning — federal immigration enforcement officials could obtain the voter registration information. Voters approved a ballot measure in 2016 to allow non-citizens to vote in school board elections beginning in November, but there are concerns over how the federal government could use the information as President Donald Trump has targeted California and San Francisco over sanctuary policies. San Francisco plans to issue a warning in 51 languages to non-citizens before they register, including on a Department of Elections affidavit they would need to sign to register and on the Department of Elections website.
The federal trial over a Kansas law requiring people to show citizenship documents like a birth certificate or passport when registering to vote begins on March 6 in Kansas City. The American Civil Liberties Union will represent the League of Women Voters and several individuals whose voting rights were violated. Kris Kobach — the secretary of state of Kansas, chief architect of the law, and the defendant in the lawsuit — will represent himself. From 2013 to 2016, more than 35,000 Kansans were blocked from registering because of Kobach’s documentary proof-of-citizenship law — approximately 14 percent of new registrants. Many Kansans, including several of our clients, went to the polls on Election Day in 2014 with every reason to believe that they were registered, only to be told, “Sorry, you haven’t proven that you’re a U.S. citizen.”
National: US wants to add citizenship query to census, but group of states and DC protest | Associated Press
It’s been nearly 70 years since census-takers last asked all residents in the nation whether they were U.S. citizens. Now the Trump administration’s Justice Department wants to reinstate the citizenship question for the 2020 census and says doing so would improve voting-rights enforcement. But California, other Democratic-majority states and immigrant advocates see a more sinister purpose: to reduce census participation by intimidating undocumented immigrants and their families, and thereby lowering population counts that are the basis for determining the number of a state’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has shed light on what may be driving the Trump administration’s push to ask about citizenship in the 2020 Census. In an op-ed written for Breitbart, Kobach endorses an approach to drawing voting districts in a way that would undermine the political power of immigrant-heavy communities. That approach, which culminated in a 2016 Supreme Court case, emerges from decades-old conservative opposition to the priniciple of “one person, one vote.” Kobach, a Republican who led President Trump’s now-defunct voter fraud commission, is known for pushing restrictive voting laws. In the op-ed, Kobach backs the idea of asking citizenship on the Census, something the Justice Department has also requested to be included on 2020 questionnaire. Kobach suggests that doing so would encourage states to draw districts based on number of citizens or some similar metric. Currently, states draw districts based on total population.
Emboldened both by President Donald Trump’s claim that millions of noncitizens voted in 2016 and by his creation of a panel to investigate the alleged fraud, lawmakers in several states want to require people registering to vote to provide proof of their citizenship – even though federal registration forms don’t require it. This year at least four states – Kansas, Maryland, Texas and Virginia – considered proof of citizenship measures, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. That means residents must provide documentation such as a passport or birth certificate when registering to vote.