GOP Accuses Reid of Flip-Flopping on Birthright Citizenship
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has come out squarely against Republicans’ ideas about looking into changes to birthright citizenship for children born in the U.S. to illegal immigrant parents. “They’ve either taken leave of their senses or their principles,” he said of Republicans last week. But Reid once considered a change to birthright citizenship himself, and the National Senate Republican Committee wants to make sure no one forgets it.
The NSRC pointed to a Washington Times post on Reid’s Immigration Stabilization Act of 1993, which never made it out of committee. The bill did not propose amending the Constitution — the path Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has proposed as an end to birthright citizenship — but would have changed the way it was interpreted. The end result was the same: children of illegal immigrants would not obtaini automatic citizenship. “Senator Reid took a far different view of the immigration issue before he was facing a very serious threat to his re-election,” the NSRC wrote today.
But the switch actually came earlier: During a 2006 floor speech, Reid called his 1993 bill a “travesty” and “the biggest mistake I ever made”:
I wish to switch a little bit here and talk about something that is extremely personal to me. I have been a legislator for a long time …I don’t want this to be true confessions, but I want to relate to the Senate that the biggest mistake I ever made, the largest error I ever made was 15 or 18 years ago …A group of people came and talked to us and convinced us that the thing to do would be to close the borders between Mexico and the United States; in effect, stop people from coming across our borders to the United States. This period of time for which I am so apologetic — to my family, mostly — lasted about a week or two. I introduced legislation. My little wife is 5 feet tall. We have been together for soon to be 50 years. As I said here on the floor a few days ago, her father was born in Russia. He was run out of Russia. His name was Goldfarb, his family. They were Jewish. My wife heard that I had done this. She does not interfere with my legislation. Only when I ask her does she get involved in what I am doing. I didn’t ask her about this. She, in effect, said: I can’t believe that you have done it. But I had done it.
Reid said his 1993 “low point” motivated him to push for comprehensive immigration reform.