The man behind the push for a California ballot initiative that would deny benefits to the children of illegal immigrants even if those children are U.S. citizens says the measure would discourage illegal immigrants from giving birth here.
The initiative is, among other things, targeting the child-only portion of the CalWORKs program, which provides temporary financial aid and job-focused services to needy families with minor children.
Ted Hilton, the real estate developer who is behind the initiative, tells Madeleine Brand that he rejects the idea that the initiative violates the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment, which says, "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."
He says that the amendment gives Congress and the courts the ability to say who is not a citizen.
"There's never been a Supreme Court or a Congress or a president who has ever, in fact, ruled or stated that" all those born in the U.S. are, in fact, automatically U.S. citizens, he says.
Hilton says he welcomes the inevitable legal challenges, because the issue needs to be settled in court.
"It's time ... for us to go ... join every nation in Europe and most other nations in the world in stopping a policy of automatic citizenship," he says.
The measure would also change the law through which birth certificates are obtained.
"We're requiring that they submit a government-issued photo ID, a fingerprint, and that would be all provided to Homeland Security," Hilton says. "So, there is going to be a deterrent to them to want to give birth in the United States."