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Opponents of Illegal Immigration Target Birthright Citizenship

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A coalition of state legislators say they will unveil a plan Wednesday to prevent illegal immigrants' children from becoming citizens at birth.

But instead of proposing a change to the Constitution, which has established birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment, the lawmakers are expected to advocate a state-by-state approach to blocking issuance of state birth certificates to unqualified children.

"We're announcing a change to state laws that each state could adopt that will move us in the direction of insuring that the 14th Amendment is applied correctly," Pennsylvania State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, who founded the coalition, told ABC News.

Metcalfe said he's alarmed by the burgeoning size and cost of America's illegal immigrant population, estimated at 11 million, and whose offspring in the United States would be able to sponsor their parents and relatives for legal residency.  The children are sometimes referred to as "anchor babies."

Metcalfe and a group of conservative constitutional scholars who helped draft the state-level plan said they believe their legislation will pass muster during expected court battles because of a careful interpretation of the text of the 14th Amendment.

The amendment, enacted after the Civil War to grant citizenship to descendants of slaves, reads: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside."

"Just because you're born on American soil did not mean that you were granted American citizenship automatically," Metcalfe said.  "You had to be under the 'jurisdiction thereof,' including that geographic location.  'Jurisdiction thereof' was meant and was directly correlated to having an allegiance to our country by the parents." 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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