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Birthright or privilege?

March 15, 2007

Re "Citizenship by birth -- can it be outlawed?" Opinion, March 10

It is generally accepted that no perpetrator of an illegal act should be able to derive benefits from it.

The same is true about anyone receiving benefits from someone else's illegal act.

The same should be true about automatic citizenship for the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants.

When the 14th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, massive illegal immigration into the U.S. was not an issue. The amendment's present use to justify benefits derived from illegal acts was surely not its originators' intent.

MICHAEL WIENER

Manhattan Beach

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Birthright citizenship is a key right that, along with such rights as the freedom of speech and the right of all adult citizens to vote, form the foundation of democracy. Without this right, a permanent servant underclass would slowly develop. A situation could develop in which a government would be able to govern with the support of only a minority of the native-born population of the United States. It is imperative for those who care about democracy to prevent our Constitution from being subverted.

DAVID BENDALL

Aliso Viejo

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The amendment contemplated would create a bureaucratic nightmare, resulting in long delays before the issuance of some new kind of document verifying the citizenship status of the millions of children born in the United States.

The citizenship status of the parents, as well as the authenticity of documents presented to establish the lawful termination by death, divorce or annulment of each prior marriage, would be in question. Adverse findings by the registrar of births would result in administrative appeals to a board created to handle such cases, with litigation carrying many cases to an appeals court.

Let us not amend the 14th Amendment -- it has served this country well since 1868.

STUART SHELBY

Santa Monica

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