On Wednesday, after he had been targeted when reports surfaced he wanted to end “birthright citizenship,” President Trump pointed out that 25 years ago, then-Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, who later became the Senate Majority Leader, had stood for the exact same thing.
In 1993, Reid introduced the Immigration Stabilization Act of 1993 on August 4, 1993, which read, “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…shall be considered as born subject to the jurisdiction of that foreign country and not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. Therefore, [the child] would 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.”
As Politifact acknowledged in 2010, “And just in case there was any confusion about the matter, a press release that Reid’s office issued a day later states that the bill ‘clarifies that a person born in the United States to an alien mother who is not a lawful resident is not a U.S. citizen.’ This clarification would have eliminated the ‘incentive for pregnant alien women to enter the United States illegally, often at risk to mother and child, for the purpose of acquiring citizenship for the child and accompanying federal financial benefits,’ said Reid.”
After he had introduced the proposal, Reid took the Senate floor, stating:
If making it easy to be an illegal alien isn’t enough, how about offering a reward to be an illegal immigrant. 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 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 two-thirds of the babies born at taxpayer expense in county-run hospitals in Los Angeles are born to illegal alien mothers?
Trump tweeted the video of Reid, using Reid’s own language of a “sane country” to aver that Reid had once been “sane”:
Harry Reid, when he was sane, agreed with us on Birthright Citizenship! pic.twitter.com/ypiE1QWKag
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 31, 2018
Catching wind of Trump’s tweet, Reid responded by saying that he had changed his mind after his Senate floor speech because his wife had admonished him, stating, “In 1993, around the time Donald Trump was gobbling up tax-free inheritance money from his wealthy father and driving several companies into bankruptcy, I made a mistake. After I proposed that awful bill, my wife Landra immediately sat me down and said, ‘Harry, what are you doing? Don’t you now my father is an immigrant?’ She set me straight.”
Reid issues statement following POTUS noting his past support for ending birthright citizenship: pic.twitter.com/FOujLneHak
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) October 31, 2018
But setting Reid straight must have taken a while, because in 1994, as Politico noted, Reid reiterated his support for his bill in a Los Angeles Times op-ed, in which he wrote:
Taxpayers simply cannot continue to sustain new populations the size of San Diego or the state of Nevada every year. California is sending up the red flag tat Washington should heed. Unprecedented demands are being placed on job markets, schools, hospitals, police, social safety nets, infrastructure and natural resources. Unlimited new arrivals pressuring these systems threaten to overwhelm them.
In the West, we have a real appreciation for dwindling natural resources. We fight for water from the Colorado River, the Truckee River and other scarce sources. We endlessly debate policies governing public lands, mining and livestock grazing. But rarely do we consider the burdens that millions of new people place every year on our water supplies air quality, parks, lakes, recreation areas and public land.
Our doors should remain open, but only wide enough to admit those to whom we can realistically offer opportunity and security. To leave the door unguarded is to create an environment in which no one can live securely and peacefully.
In 1999, Reid said he had made a mistake with his legislation; the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported on December 13, 1999, that Reid said that the legislation was “way up high” on his “list of mistakes” and that it was “short-sighted.”