Candidate for Governor gets in the middle of Immigration Debate

By Laurie Bernstein - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - You may not know him by name, but chances are you've heard about the legislation U.S. Representative Nathan Deal is trying to push through Congress.

It's the Birthright Citizenship Bill, which would end the practice of granting automatic citizenship to babies born to parents who come to the United States illegally.

"To immediately bestow citizenship because of birth I think undermines the rule of law in our country.  We have immigration laws, and people abide by laws and come to our country under the legal establishment. I think they resent folks who break in line," said Congressman Deal.

Deal says the 14th Amendment was meant to give citizenship to slaves freed after the Civil War--not to help those coming into the country illegally.

Another issue is the large amount of money and resources spent by the federal government to provide these illegal aliens with welfare and Medicaid.

Many here in the Valley say Congressman Deal is on the right track.

"I think it's causing a lot of illegal aliens to come here. I think he's right, it should be outlawed, and they shouldn't have automatic citizenship," said Richard Williams, who supports Deal's bill.

"There's a limit of how many people we can absorb into this country. It's a drain on social services throughout the United States," said Robert Goddard, who also supports Deal's bill.

At the same time, some feel these parents are just trying to provide a better life for their kids, like millions of other immigrants who have come before them.

"They do come here to have their children so they can attain the American Dream, I think it's wrong to deny them that," said Jason Murphy, who is against Deal's bill.

"The children didn't ask to be here, and they deserve some kind of incentive or benefits. It's better to educate them then to ignore them," said Mary Wisdo, who is also against Deal's bill.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, there were 383,000 babies born to mothers illegally in the U.S. last year.

That is one out of every ten babies born, and Deal feels it's a growing trend that America can no longer ignore.