The retirement of Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) will end an 17-year unbroken commitment to persuading Congress to eliminate birthright citizenship for illegal aliens. Soon after arriving in Congress in 1993, he co-sponsored the original bill to put the U.S. in line with most other modern nations by stopping birthright citizenship. He has signed on to every bill since, taking over as lead sponsor since 2003.
Under Deal's leadership, the ending of automatic U.S. citizenship for "anchor babies" has been one of the most popular legislative efforts that has never been allowed a vote in Congress.
Take a look at the number of signers of the birthright citizenship bill in each Congress:
- 43 (1993) Deal signed on to the bill first introduced by Rep. Gallegly (R-Calif.) and on to the bill in every succeeding Congress.
- 52 (1995) The main bill was introduced by Rep. Bilbray (R-Calif.) this year.
- 71 (1997) Bilbray led again.
- 48 (1999) Bilbray led again.
- 21 (2001) Rep. Stump (R-Ariz.) was the author.
- 31 (2003) Rep. Deal took over as the lead.
- 88 (2005) Deal in the lead.
- 105 (2007) Deal in the lead.
- 91 (2009) Deal in the lead.
Deal and his colleagues were blocked in three Congresses by a Democratic majority and leadership.
But in five of the Congresses -- when his bill almost certainly would have passed if allowed a vote on the floor -- it was his fellow Republicans who held the majority and the leadership. That Republican leadership in the U.S. House knew that ending birthright citizenship was an extremely popular action but refused to allow a vote.
Throughout 2005, the House GOP leadership held small dinners, mixing Members from various factions of the Party to look for common ground on immigration. We received regular eye-witness reports from various Members after they attended these events. Basically what happened, we were told, was that:
- The Chamber of Commerce Republicans were quite resistant to most of the ideas of the Rule of Law Republicans, and vice versa.
- The one immigration issue that nearly every Republican from all factions agreed on was the absurdity of allowing tourists, foreign exchange students, temporary workers and illegal aliens to collect U.S. citizenship for any baby they happened to deliver while on U.S. soil.
When the House passed a giant immigration enforcement bill late in 2005, the House GOP leadership allowed floor votes on a number of amendments which would make the bill even tougher. Nearly all passed. Right up until the last minute, we understood that Deal's birthright citizenship proposal was going to get a vote. And then the GOP leadership pulled it from the floor, apparently convinced by somebody that passage would look too extreme.
During the time that Rep. Deal has been fighting to put an end to birthright citizenship, many other of the remaining nations around the world with the practice have done away with it. Birthright citizenship is an old-fashioned concept for a time before airplanes and telephones, in fact rooted in medieval practices. Nathan Deal has tried to modernize our country on this front. And we thank him for his efforts.
For those of you who are represented in Congress by Members who are wishy-washy or downright awful on immigration issues, take a look at Rep. Deal's final Career Immigration-Reduction Grade Card to see what it looks like to challenge every immigration status quo that is deteriorating our nation.
And click here for the full scoresheet of all 235 immigration actions that Rep. Deal took during his 17 years in Congress. We put a green dot beside every action that would move the nation toward lower overall immigration, and a red dot for those that would move toward higher immigration.
You will see that Deal has 230 green dots and 5 red dots (all for relatively small measures we opposed). Be sure to click the SHOW ACTIONS link under each grade to see all the details. It is an impressive march through the mostly failed efforts of the last two decades to correct our immigration nightmare.
I'm not sure that anybody has accumulated more positive actions.
ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA