1993 flip-flop: Sen. Reid introduced bill 'clarifying' birthright citizenship

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Updated Aug.13, 2010 12:00 AM EST

(All emphasis is mine)

For all the brouhaha over Republicans wanting to review the interpretation of the 14th Amendment, the citizenship/birthright clause, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, once supported revising the current interpretation of the birthright citizenship clause in 1993.

Mr. Reid introduced a bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee as the Immigration Stabilization Act of 1993. The bill, which died in committee after it was referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Refugee Affairs,  includes tough immigration provisions that would make many wonder where Mr. Reid truly stands on the immigration and border debate.

Title X of the Reid introduced bill shows the Nevada Democrat took Senator Lindsey Graham’s, South Carolina Republican, idea on the interpretation of the 14th Amendment and documented it into legislation:

“TITLE X—CITIZENSHIP 4 SEC. 1001. BASIS OF CITIZENSHIP CLARIFIED.  In the exercise of its powers under section of the Fourteenth Article of Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the Congress has determined and hereby declares that any person born after the date of enactment of this title to a mother who is neither a citizen of the United States nor admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident, and which person is a national or citizen of another country of which either of his or her natural parents is a national or citizen, or is entitled upon application to become a national or citizen of such country, shall be considered as born subject to the jurisdiction of that foreign country and not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States within the meaning of section 1 of such Article and shall therefore not be a citizen of the United States or of any State solely by reason of physical presence within the United States at the moment of birth.”

Even the summary of the bill contains language that would offend many of Mr. Reid’s supporters who are pushing amnesty for illegal immigrants in the United States:

“A bill to curb criminal activity by aliens, to defend against acts of international terrorism, to protect American workers from unfair labor competition, and to relieve pressure on public services by strengthening border security and stabilizing immigration into the United States.”

The Center for Immigration Studies, wrote about the failed bill in 1993, describing it this way:

Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) has introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill (S. 1351) that includes a provision that would limit citizenship to those whose mothers are United States citizens or legal permanent residents. However, Senator Reid’s proposal is to amend only the Immigration and Nationality Act, not the Constitution. Additionally, Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY) is planning to propose an immigration reform package that will include a provision similar to that of Senator Reid’s. Whether or not Senator Simpson’s recommendation will limit the right to citizenship to only those whose mothers are citizens or legal residents remains to be seen.

Opponents of these proposals argue that they go against the fundamental traditions of the United States. The citizenship clause was originally written to guarantee citizenship to all freed slaves, thereby establishing a tradition of inclusiveness. On the other hand, those in favor of the proposals believe birthright citizenship to be an attraction to illegal immigration. Under current law, simply because a child is born on U.S. soil, he or she is entitled to all the benefits that U.S. citizenship entails, including federal welfare benefits and the right to vote. Additionally, when that child turns 21, he or she will be able to sponsor his or her parents, and other family members, to the United States under the family reunification provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Mr. Reid has taken quite the 180 since he introduced his immigration bill in 1993. “They’ve either taken leave of their senses or their principles,” said Senator Reid of Republicans recently when asked about what he thought about the GOP push to clarify the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. Mr. Reid tried to endear himself recently to Hispanic voters in Nevada when discussing border issues and told them, “I don’t know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican.” Causing an uproar among Hispanics who are conservatives and Republicans, Mr. Reid’s past dabbling with the 14th Amendment cannot possibly make his liberal supporters happy.

Mr. Graham wants the 14th Amendment clarified, while House Minority Leader, John Boehner, Ohio Republican, said looking at the Amendment was “worth considering,” according to reports.

The 14th Amendment grants citizenship to any individual born in the United States. It also grants citizenship to babies born on American soil to illegal immigrants. The babies are commonly known as “anchor babies,” because their citizenship status makes it easier for their undocumented relatives to achieve legal immigration status by family reunification measures found in the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. A new study published by the Pew Hispanic Center reports that 1 in 13 babies are born to illegal immigrants (h/t Fox 13 Now-Utah).

 

Follow me on Twitter: @KerryPicket

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About the Author
Kerry Picket

Kerry Picket

Kerry Picket, a former Opinion Blogger/Editor of The Watercooler, was associate producer for the Media Research Center, a content producer for Robin Quivers of "The Howard Stern Show" on Sirius satellite radio and a production assistant and copy writer at MTV.

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