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Two-thirds of Americans Think Constitution Should Be Changed to Bar Maternity Tourism
Bi-partisan agreement on additional stipulations for U.S. citizenship
NEW YORK, N.Y. – June 21, 2011 – Immigration has long been a hotly debated and divisive political issue. A recent Harris Poll sheds light on a new twist in the old debate—the question of “maternity tourism”, or birthing trips where pregnant foreigners travel to the U.S. to give birth, making any child born an automatic U.S. citizen. These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,184 adults surveyed online between May 9 and 16, 2011 by Harris Interactive. The Constitution is a sacred American document. Many political groups call on it’s words to support their policies and stances and other nations have copied it when establishing their own tenets. Thus, it seems predictable when asked if the Fourteenth Amendment, guaranteeing citizenship to any person born in the United States is a good or bad law, two thirds of American adults (66%) say it’s a good law with 40% saying it’s very good and only a quarter (27%) call it a bad law. This approval is seen across all political groups and philosophies, although to varying degrees—Conservatives are least likely to call this a good law, as a small majority do (53%) while Liberals are most likely to call it a good law, with 84% saying so and fully 60% saying it is a very good law. Despite this support for the Constitution, when the question is framed slightly differently and maternity tourism is explained, a different response is seen. When Americans were told that some pregnant foreigners arrange trips to the United States specifically timed so that they give birth during their stay, making any child born an automatic U.S. citizen, two thirds of U.S. adults say the Constitution should be changed to no longer allow for this (67%) with over two in five saying it definitely should be changed (45%). This perspective is shared across all political parties and philosophies: Four in five Republicans (79%) say the Constitution should be changed to no longer allow for this, as do seven in ten Independents (70%) and 54% of Democrats; Tea Party supporters feel most strongly about this as 81% say the Constitution should be changed here; and, Majorities of Conservatives (75%), Moderates (67%) and Liberals (52%) agree as well. Following this re-look at the rights provided by the Fourteenth Amendment, when Americans were asked if they agree or disagree that it is appropriate that any baby born on U.S. soil is an automatic citizen of the United States only 36% say they agree it’s appropriate while 58% disagree with 35% strongly disagreeing. Similar to the bi-partisan agreement seen with regard to changing the Constitution in this case, members of all political parties and philosophies also agree on several stipulations for automatic citizenship: Republicans (84%), Democrats (63%), Independents (74%), Conservatives (84%), Moderates (72%), Liberals (53%), and Tea Party Supporters (85%) all agree that babies born in the U.S. should need an American citizen as their parent in order to become an automatic U.S. citizen;

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Similar numbers of each of these groups (between 65% and 79% of all political groups, between 60% and 77% of all political philosophies and 80% of Tea Party supporters) also agree that babies born on American soil should need a parent who is a permanent resident of the U.S. in order to become an automatic citizen; and, While the agreement is less strong across all groups, 53% of U.S. adults also say that in order to limit these birthing trips the U.S. should screen for pregnancy before allowing foreigners into the country— two thirds of Republicans (64%), Conservatives (66%) and Tea Party Supporters (66%) say this and just about half of Democrats (48%), Independents (50%) and Moderates (52%) do yet in this case only 36% of Liberals agree. So What? This poll raises some interesting questions, yet the responses showing bi-partisan agreement across several issues and opinion statements is even more interesting. Although immigration has been a politically divisive topic, the issue of maternity tourism is slightly different – it is claimed that many foreigners participating in maternity tourism have no intention of permanently settling in the United States. Rather, they enter the U.S., obtain citizenship for their newborn baby, and then return (with the child) to their home country. While it’s unclear how widespread this practice is, this poll makes clear that Americans see it as an abuse of our system, which they would like to prevent. It will be interesting if legislators pursue this at all, or even if it can be determined how common the practice may be.

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TABLE 1 FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT “On another subject, the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees American citizenship to any person born in the United States. Do you think this is a good law or a bad law?” Base: All adults Party ID Tea Political Philosophy Total Party Rep. Dem. Ind. Cons. Mod. Lib. Support % % % % % % % % Good (NET) 66 58 76 66 56 53 69 84 Very good 40 27 52 39 28 29 39 60 Somewhat good 27 31 23 27 28 24 30 23 Bad (NET) 27 38 18 25 40 41 24 12 Somewhat bad 17 22 12 14 23 21 17 8 Very bad 10 15 6 11 17 19 7 4 Not at all sure 6 4 6 9 4 7 7 4 Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding TABLE 2 PREGNANT FOREIGNERS AND BIRTHING TRIPS “Some pregnant foreigners arrange trips to the United States, specifically timed so that they give birth during their stay, making any child born an automatic U.S. citizen. Do you think the U.S. Constitution should be changed to no longer allow for this?” Base: All adults Party ID Tea Political Philosophy Total Party Rep. Dem. Ind. Cons. Mod. Lib. Support % % % % % % % % Should (NET) 67 79 54 70 81 75 67 52 Definitely should 45 62 31 44 63 60 39 33 Probably should 22 17 23 26 19 15 28 19 Should not (NET) 23 15 32 21 14 18 22 35 Probably should not 10 9 13 10 6 7 11 15 Definitely should not 13 7 19 11 8 11 11 20 Not at all sure 10 5 14 9 4 7 11 13 Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

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TABLE 3A AGREEMENT WITH STATEMENTS RELATED TO MATERNITY TOURISM “How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements related to maternity tourism, or these “birthing trips”?” Base: All adults Agree Strongly Somewhat Disagree Somewhat Strongly Not at (NET) agree agree (NET) disagree disagree all sure % % % % % % % Babies born in the U.S. should need an American citizen as their 72 53 20 22 9 13 6 parent in order to become an automatic U.S. citizen. Babies born on American soil should need a parent who is a permanent resident of the U.S. in 72 48 23 22 10 11 7 order to become an automatic citizen. In order to limit these birthing trips the U.S. should screen for 53 30 23 37 16 22 9 pregnancy before allowing foreigners into the country. It is appropriate that any baby born on U.S. soil is an automatic 36 18 18 58 23 35 6 citizen of the U.S. Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding TABLE 3B AGREEMENT WITH STATEMENTS RELATED TO MATERNITY TOURISM “How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements related to maternity tourism, or these “birthing trips”?” Summary of those saying “Strongly agree” or “Somewhat agree” Base: All adults Party ID Tea Political Philosophy Total Party Rep. Dem. Ind. Cons. Mod. Lib. Support % % % % % % % % Babies born in the U.S. should need an American citizen as their parent in order 72 84 63 74 85 84 72 53 to become an automatic U.S. citizen. Babies born on American soil should need a parent who is a permanent resident of 72 79 65 75 80 77 73 60 the U.S. in order to become an automatic citizen. In order to limit these birthing trips the U.S. should screen for pregnancy before 53 64 48 50 66 65 52 36 allowing foreigners into the country. It is appropriate that any baby born on 36 25 46 38 27 28 35 55 U.S. soil is an automatic citizen of the U.S. Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding

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Methodology This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between May 9 to 16, 2011 among 2,184 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls. The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive. J40013 Q835, 840, 845
The Harris Poll #74, June 21, 2011 By Samantha Braverman, Sr. Project Researcher, Harris Interactive
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