McCain says he’ll listen if Senate hearings called, but doesn’t support 14th Amendment change

By Bob Christie, AP
Friday, August 13, 2010

McCain says he doesn’t back 14th Amendment change

PHOENIX — Breaking with Republican leaders in the Senate, U.S. Sen. John McCain says he is not requesting hearings into the constitutional amendment that grants automatic citizenship to babies born in the United States, and doesn’t support changing the Constitution.

McCain told The Associated Press that, despite a statement he made last week that was widely interpreted as meaning he supported hearings on the 14th Amendment, he remains unconvinced that a change in the Constitution is needed. Instead, he argued that fully securing the border would help to solve the problem.

“When I was asked … I said ‘Look, if senators want to have hearings then senators have hearings, that’s how the Senate works, but I’m not requesting hearings,’” McCain said in an interview Thursday. “I’m devoting all my efforts to getting the borders secure, and if you get the border secure than the difficulties and challenges with this issue of people coming across our border illegally to have children is dramatically reduced.”

McCain said the Founding Fathers intentionally made the Constitution extremely hard to change and that he is fundamentally in favor of leaving it as it is.

When asked directly if would support such an amendment, McCain said: “No. I mean, first of all we’d have to have hearings, we’d have to find out what the argument would be, but I certainly don’t at this time.”

Senior Republicans last week joined the push to take up the issue, including Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

A Pew Hispanic Center study released this week said that one in 12 children born in the U.S. has at least one parent who is in the country illegally. The report added to calls from prominent Republicans to end automatic citizenship for children born to illegal immigrants.

Supporters argue making such a change will discourage immigrants who have children on U.S. soil to use them to stay in the country. Opponents says it could leave millions of American-born children stateless.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said she is surprised that Republican congressional leaders are joining a push to reconsider the amendment instead of working with Democrats on immigration reform.

McCain is currently facing a tough primary fight against former U.S. Rep. J.D. Hayworth, who has criticized McCain for being soft on immigration because of his previous support for comprehensive immigration reform. McCain has fought back by stressing his efforts to secure the border, abandoning any hint of support for wholesale reform of the immigration system until that is accomplished.

will not be displayed