It’s the video former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants removed from the internet — because it shows how Democrats agreed with everything President Donald Trump is saying about birthright citizenship.
Trump has declared that he wants to order an end to citizenship for babies born in the United States to illegal immigrants. Democrats responded by calling the idea illegal and unconstitutional.
Under former President Bill Clinton in 1993, however, Democrats were singing a far different tune about illegal aliens, though.
And we have the footage that proves it.
“If making it easy to be an illegal alien isn’t enough, how about offering a reward for being an illegal immigrant?” Reid says in a prepared remark attacking Republican leadership in 1993. “No sane country would do that. Right? Guess again.”
“If you break our laws by entering this country without permission and give birth to a child, we reward that child with U.S. citizenship,” Reid continued. “And guarantee a full access to all public and social services this society provides. And that’s a lot of services.”
“Is it any wonder that 2/3rds of the babies born at taxpayer expense in… county run hospitals in Los Angeles are born to illegal alien mothers?” Reid asks.
You can see the footage here —
With seven days to go before high-stakes 2018 midterm election, Trump made the comments to “Axios on HBO.” Trump, seeking to energize his supporters and help Republicans keep control of Congress, has warned about a huge caravan of thousands of would-be illegal immigrants making its way to America’s southern border.
His administration announced Monday it was dispatching thousands of active-duty troops to the border, and Trump said he’d set up tent cities to house asylum seekers.
Trump has long called for an end to birthright citizenship, as have many conservatives. An executive order would spark a legal battle for Trump about whether the president has the unilateral ability to declare that children born in the U.S. to illegal immigrants aren’t citizens.
Asked about the legality of such an executive order, Trump said his legal advisers said “I can do it just with an executive order.”
The Pew Research Center found in a survey published two years ago that births to “unauthorized immigrants” totaled 275,000 babies were born to such parents in 2014, or about 7 percent of the births in the U.S. that year, according to Pew estimates based on government data.
The president said White House lawyers are reviewing his proposal. It’s unclear how quickly he would act and the White House did not provide further details.
A person familiar with the internal White House debate said the topic of birthright citizenship had come up inside the West Wing at various times over at least the last year, but has some internal detractors. White House lawyers have debated the topic, and expect to work with the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel to develop a legal justification for the action. It is one of many immigration changes being discussed including asylum law changes, and barring the migrant caravan from entering the country.
But administration officials said there would likely be no decisions until after the midterms, due in part to the president’s trip to Pittsburgh Tuesday to meet with victims of the deadly synagogue shooting.
Legal experts questioned whether Trump has the authority to do this by executive order.
Omar Jadwat, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union in New York, said Tuesday that the Constitution is very clear.
“If you are born in the United States, you’re a citizen,” he said. Trump can try to get Congress to pass a constitutional amendment, “but I don’t think they are anywhere close to getting that.”
Others suggest the president may have an opening.
Jon Feere, a senior adviser at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is among those who has long argued that that the president could limit the citizenship clause through executive action.
“A president could direct his agencies to fall in line with his interpretation of the Supreme Court’s rulings, which are arguably limited to children of permanently domiciled immigrants [the court has never squarely ruled on children born to tourists or illegal aliens]. He could direct his agencies to issue Social Security numbers and passports only to newborns who have at least one parent who is a citizen or permanently domiciled immigrant,” he wrote in 2015 in an op-ed in The Hill.
In the final days before the critical 2018 midterm elections, Trump has emphasized immigration, as he seeks to counter Democratic enthusiasm. Trump believes that his campaign pledges, including his promise to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall, are still rallying cries for his base.
Trump voiced his theory that birthright citizenship could be stripped during his campaign, when he described it as a “magnet for illegal immigration.” During a 2015 campaign stop in Florida, he said: “The birthright citizenship – the anchor baby – birthright citizenship, it’s over, not going to happen.”
The Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment states: “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.”
The amendment was passed by a Republican-dominated Congress in 1866 during the period of Reconstruction after the Civil War. It was ratified in 1868 by three-fourths of the states. By extending citizenship to those born in the U.S., the amendment nullified the infamous Dred Scott 1857 Supreme Court decision, which ruled that those descended from slaves could not be citizens.
Republicans in Congress continue introducing bills to end birthright citizenship, including legislation this session from conservative GOP Rep. Steve King of Iowa. King’s bill has almost 50 co-sponsors in the House. King’s legislation though would likely face a cool reception in the Senate where there is no companion bill pending, and a handful of senators supported past efforts.
King said he had not discussed the issue with the president at any length in recent months, but that it had come up “in passing” several times in group discussions. He said he hadn’t personally considered birthright citizenship to be part of the caravan issue and applauded the president for connecting the issues.
“Sending this message out, it’s another component of saying to the caravan: Don’t come in here. Some are pregnant, no doubt,” he said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, now a close ally of the president, also tweeted his support for the change.
“This policy is a magnet for illegal immigration, out of the mainstream of the developed world, and needs to come to an end,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this article