Iowa Senator Tom Harkin calls it an outrage that some illegal immigration opponents are considering ways to revoke the nation’s 142-year-old policy that if you’re born in America, you’re an American. “I am not in favor of reviewing the 14th Amendment and making this a political hot potato issue right before the election,” Harkin says.

“Shame on those who have decided that the best way to gain votes in this election is to be more mean-spirited than the next person.” Harkin, a Democrat, says people who are involved in this movement are “picking on those that don’t have anything,” the American-born children of illegal immigrants.

“These children didn’t do anything wrong,” Harkin says. “The 14th Amendment is very clear. It says whether you’re a descendant of someone who came over on the Mayflower or you’re the child of an undocumented person, you’re a citizen of this country. Citizenship should be based on that and not on political considerations.”

Harkin says he’s heard “obnoxious” comments from supporters of this movement in Congress, who claim illegal immigrants are coming to the U.S. just to “drop” babies. The amendment was adopted in 1868 and the first line reads: “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.” Harkin says this is not an issue that needs to be politicized.

“That’s the beauty of the 14th Amendment, it takes it out of politics,” Harkin says. “It says if you’re born here, you’re a citizen, regardless of where your parents came from, how rich they are, how poor they are, what color they are, what creed they are, what religion, it doesn’t make any difference. I think it’s outrageous, outrageous that Republicans are now targeting these children. You know? Shame on ’em.”

Harkin says it’s one thing to want to punish adults who violate the law, “but to deny a Constitutional right to these children who’ve done nothing wrong is just mean-spirited and wrong.” Most illegal immigrants come to the United States to work and to make money, Harkin says, not to have babies.