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Yes, Reid tried to end birthright citizenship -- but he apologized profusely for it

Right wing blogs think they've unearthed a lethal hit on Harry Reid: He apparently introduced a bill to end birthright citizenship back in 1993.

Conservatives are pointing to this as proof of Reid's hypocrisy in the wake of his claim the other day that he doesn't understand how any Latinos could ever vote Republican. Ed Morrissey argued that by his own standard, Reid "should lose his entire Hispanic vote over this."

Guess what: It happens to be true that Reid did introduce such a bill. And it was indefensible. But here's the thing: I've learned that Reid already apologized profusely for this in a speech in 2006, admitted he was wrong, and described this as the "low point" of his career. In other words, Reid himself agrees that it was indefensible.

The Washington Times is the outlet that got the goods on Reid's 1993 bill, which "clarified" the basis of citizenship. Reid's bill said that any child born here to a mother who is not an American citizen "shall be considered as born subject to the jurisdiction" of the mother's country and will not be "subject to the jurisdiction of the United States."

The bill added that such a child "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."

As some on the right have noted today, this is in line with Lindsey Graham's thinking on the issue. But Reid's office sends over a transcript of a long and unusual apology Reid offered for this on the Senate floor in 2006.

"That is a low point of my legislative career, the low point of my governmental career," Reid said. He went on to tell the assembled Senators that his wife had chastized him for the move. "She, in effect, said: I can't believe that you have done it," Reid recounted. "But I had done it."

Reid's delivered his apology in "a near whisper as many Senators looked on in amazement," according to one news account at the time.

Yes, Reid did do this. And it's a legit story for conservatives to bring to light, in the wake of the debate over the 14th amendment. But it should be part of the discussion that Reid apologized profusely for what he did and described it as the worst moment of his career -- even as some Republicans continue to push for a reexamination of the 14th amendment 17 years later.

UPDATE, 7:30 p.m.: Looks like Reid apologized for this back in 1999. From the Las Vegas Review Journal at the time:

One lawmaker who has had a change of heart on immigration is Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Six years ago, Reid offered legislation that would have slashed the limit of immigrants from 800,000 to 300,000 a year. Reid recommended denying U.S. citizenship to babies born to illegal aliens.

'We've got too many immigrants, legal and illegal,' he said at the time.

Reid's measure did not become law, but it reflected a strong sentiment in Congress that the United States had lost control of its borders. As the economy continued to flourish, however, the call for a crackdown on immigration faded.

'I believe if I had to list the mistakes I have made, that legislation would be way up high,' Reid says now. 'It was short-sighted. I didn't understand the issue. I'm embarrassed that I made such a proposal.'

By Greg Sargent  |  August 13, 2010; 3:48 PM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , Immigration , Senate Dems , Senate Republicans  
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Next: Happy Hour Roundup

Comments

If you think this story is going to get covered with any mention of Reid's apology then you have obviously not been paying as much attention as I thought you were to how messages that start out on the right get conveyed. It will be all about his bill, no acknowledgement of his retraction, apology and admsission that it was a mistake (which it was).

The stroy is fair game, Reid should have to defend this because it is something he did and he should have to stand up and apologize as often as he can, but it won't be reported as a full story with his original apology from 2006 by anyone on the right, most news stations and definitely not Fox News or CNN.

Posted by: zattarra | August 13, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

@Greg: Your lede to this story reads like a joke. I literally laughed out loud until I realized you were serious!

Yes, Reid apologized. And Laura Schlesinger is apologizing profusely today, also. How long will it take for you to add up all the dumb crap Reid has said (negro dialect) and come to the conclusion that he is just as much a racist as Angle?

Posted by: sbj3 | August 13, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

sbj, I guess you missed the part where I said this was a legit story?

Posted by: Greg Sargent | August 13, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

REid was right in 1983. Why would anyone want to give automatic citizenship to the children of illegals born in the US. Instead, Reid embraces Obama's socialist agenda and spits on the legal tax-paying US citizens as he dares to APOLOGIZE for supporting the law of the land.

No wonder the Dems are heading to oblivion in the midterms!

Posted by: Realist201 | August 13, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

@Greg: I didn't miss the legit story part (you are correct).

Your lede is (unintentionally) funny as hell. One can only apologize so many times before the truth is painfully obvious. The man's a moron.

Posted by: sbj3 | August 13, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Greg:

"It happens to be true that Reid did introduce such a bill. And it was indefensible."

Why indefensible? Are you saying that the policy adopted by the vast majority of countries throughout the world is impossible for them to reasonably defend? That any rational and logical person of good will is forced by reason to conclude that anyone born in America should automatically have citizenship conveyed upon them? Are you nuts?

One may perhaps argue that our current birthright laws are, for one reason or another, better or more attractive than birthright laws in most other nations. But to argue that it is "indefensible" to oppose the granting of citizenship based on location at birth is absurd.

Only an unhinged ideologue or a propagandist would make such a silly claim.

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 13, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Realist-

I don't know why-perhaps you should ask the folks who wrote the 14th and the Judges who have upheld it since then.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | August 13, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Greg Sargent is such a hack. When I saw this on Memeorandum, I knew exactly what would be here: basically a statement from Reid explaining everything away. Sargent should just go to work for Reid directly and drop the charade.

This is actually an old story; read what else was in the bill in this 2006 post:

http://24ahead.com/n/4901

How could statements like those be explained away via an apology? Is there anything in his bill that wasn't true? Aren't the problems his bill was meant to address still with us?

For instance, his bill said, "Our borders have overflowed with illegal immigrants placing tremendous burdens on our criminal justice system, schools and social programs". Isn't that as true now as it was then?

If anyone wants to do a great public service, go to one of Reid's appearances and get video of you asking him if his bill was full of lies. If he says no, ask him why he didn't do anything about the situation as it got worse between 1993 and now.

Posted by: LonewackoDotCom | August 13, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

sbj-

How many times would I have to read that you think Reid is "a moron" before I conclude a) you don't like him b) your debate cannot be taken seriously when you characterize someone that way.

I'm thinking once.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | August 13, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

@Chuck: You DON"T think Reid is a moron? (He asked incredulously.)

I thought even his supporters realized he was a moron.

Posted by: sbj3 | August 13, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Lonewacko-

I guessed you missed the stats that show illegal immigration has gone steadily down from 2000-2010. So, in fact, it isn't as true now as it was then.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | August 13, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

@sbj-

What *I* think of Reid wasn't my point now, was it?

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | August 13, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Chuck:

"So, in fact, it isn't as true now as it was then."

There is less illegal immigration today than in 1983? Are you sure?

Posted by: ScottC3 | August 13, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

@chuck: "What *I* think of Reid wasn't my point now, was it?"

I guess not. I think your point was that you shouldn't listen to me because I called Reid a moron.

Which begs the question: Why are you asking me anything?

(What DO you think of Reid?)

Posted by: sbj3 | August 13, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

What did he learn in 13 years to make him change his mind? He was in his mid 50's when he introduced the bill, so the foolishness of youth was no excuse. He must have felt the same way for 13 more years before he apologized, so what changed his mind?

Posted by: coffic | August 13, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

"And it was indefensible"

What, another loony leftist at the WaPo? Say it ain't so!

Posted by: ArlingtonHokie | August 13, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Apologizing quickly after making a serious mistake is the mark of a true statesman, a person of character. From 1993 to 2006 is not SUCH a long time, really, ..you think?

Well, electing Angle is the closest a voter can get to electing no one.

Posted by: bgreen2224 | August 13, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Why did he feel the need to apologize. Why isn't there a law?

Posted by: tdressler | August 13, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Oh, Harry apologized profusely, then it's OK.
So good of the WP to point this out to everyone!

Posted by: rteske | August 13, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

It also happens that Harry Reid and Sharron Angle both colored on the wall with their crayons, before they were even 5 years old! Do you want these kind of wall-coloring crayon-fiends in the senate?

Vote for whacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man, instead. He never colored on the walls. Not once.

Politically, my interest in what Bush, Obama, Kerry or Harry Reid did 30 years ago (or, in this case, 18) has always been kind limited. Yes, the whole "I don't know why a Hispanic would vote for a Republican", given his past sponsorship of an anti-birthright citizenship bill comes off as a little hollow. Or incompletely thought out. But, still, hasn't he done enough in the past four years for the opposition to focus on?

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | August 13, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Harry "In his right wing mind" proposed that the 14th amendment did not apply? He must have been in a dream world. He was trying to kill it before it became the accepted law of the land. We can't trust any politician to get it right, for God's sake and the sake of those of us who are born here.

LEAVE THE 14TH AMENDMENT ALONE!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: ronjeske | August 13, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Last week you wrote:

"Folks are up in arms this morning because McConnell went on record late yesterday saying he supports hearings in order to "take a look at" whether to change the 14th amendment, which grants citizenship to children of illegal immigrants. Some are pointing out that this amounts to the mainstreaming of an idea that clearly should remain confined to the crackpot fringe."

So Harry Reid was part of "the crackpot fringe?" Good thing we found this out before the election! We definitely don't want those crazies in office!

Posted by: ath17 | August 13, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

ChuckinDenton: so, you're saying there are *fewer* illegal aliens in the U.S. now than in 2000? What planet are you on? Scratch that: what are you on?

In case anyone wants to do a public service, go to one of Reid's appearances and ask him this question about the bill on video:

http://24ahead.com/n/10172

Reid is extremely vulnerable, and a smart, experienced questioner could make him look very bad (and get hundreds of thousands of Youtube views).

If you want to do a public service, ask him that question.

Posted by: LonewackoDotCom | August 13, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

@kevin: "Vote for whacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man, instead."

Believe me, we would if we could!

Posted by: sbj3 | August 13, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

So is the PlumLine full-time with the Reid Campaign, or are they splitting part-time with Reid and DNC?

Truly, the apologist for the old batty white guy from Nevada who keeps voting incorrectly and rambling about people's skin color is pathetic.

Reid is a old bigot. He is a limousine liberal who lives in a hotel penthouse in DC while his policies have destroyed his state with record unemployment.

LEt us remember than President Obama warned all those bankers not to go to Las Vegas. Instead, they partied in San Francisco where it cost more.

The commercials are coming.

Posted by: Cornell1984 | August 13, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Sharron Angle...

There are simply not the words in the English language to describe her mental abilities. "Severely deranged" is the closest I can get.

Just read this:

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/08/angle-copy-chile-and-pinochet-to-privatize-social-security.php

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 13, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Another day, another liberal columnist or cable talker telling us what Reid really meant to say.

Posted by: Cornell1984 | August 13, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of "Severely Deranged":

Social Conservative Bryan Fischer: Paterson Wants To Impose Sharia Law On New York

This latest post, on the AFA's blog, is called "Shariah law in the U.S.: Gov. Paterson offers to make Islam the state-sponsored religion of New York." It argues that Paterson's offer

"...normally would provoke howls of outrage from our hypersensitive friends on the left, who see grotesque breaches of the wall of separation between church and state even where the wall of their fevered imaginations doesn't exist."

However, since the left has been silent in this regard, it is because "most likely, secular fundamentalists are easy on Islam for the simple reason that they share with Islamic fundamentalists a deep and abiding hatred for America and its traditions and values."

http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/08/social_conservative_bryan_fischer_paterson_wants_t.php

The inmates have taken over the asylum.

This person is speaking at a "VALUE VOTERS" event in September with Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and others.

THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IS BEING RUN BY LUNATICS.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | August 13, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

I don't know how any Hispanic could be a DemocRat?

Enough say!

Posted by: theaz | August 13, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

It's probably good news for Reid that Angle just came out for privatizing social security, the AP reports (h/t PoliticalWire). Her rationale: Chile did it.

(Never mind that it didn't actually work in Chile either and yeah Sharron, taking domestic policy pointers from Augusto Pinochet is *exactly* what this country needs. Yikes.)

Posted by: CalD | August 13, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

All, Happy Hour Roundup posted:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/08/happy_hour_roundup_72.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | August 13, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

"Guess what: It happens to be true that Reid did introduce such a bill. And it was indefensible. But here's the thing: I've learned that Reid already apologized profusely for this in a speech in 2006, admitted he was wrong, and described this as the "low point" of his career. In other words, Reid himself agrees that it was indefensible."

Oh, PLEASE! Reid apologized when it became politically expedient for him to do so - when the Democrats were trying to take the Hispanic majority from the Republicans. You make be a moron, but the rest of us aren't.

Posted by: anna_78750 | August 13, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

"Guess what: It happens to be true that Reid did introduce such a bill. And it was indefensible. But here's the thing: I've learned that Reid already apologized profusely for this in a speech in 2006, admitted he was wrong, and described this as the "low point" of his career. In other words, Reid himself agrees that it was indefensible."

Oh, PLEASE! Reid apologized when it became politically expedient for him to do so - when the Democrats were trying to take the Hispanic majority from the Republicans. You may be a moron, but the rest of us aren't.

Posted by: anna_78750 | August 13, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

"The Washington Times is the outlet that got the goods on Reid's 1993 bill"

Some things never change.

Posted by: 0460 | August 13, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

"any child born here to a mother who is not an American citizen "shall be considered as born subject to the jurisdiction" of the mother's country and will not be "subject to the jurisdiction of the United States." Sounds like a winner to me!

Posted by: IQ168 | August 13, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

You make be a moron, but the rest of us aren't.

Posted by: anna_78750 | August 13, 2010 6:22 PM
_______________________________


sic

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | August 13, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Well now we now the Journolist take on this. Expect to see this spin on all the cool blogs and newspapers.

Posted by: bobsanders | August 13, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, That should have said "now we know". Dropped a k for some reason.

Posted by: bobsanders | August 13, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Reid is an old fox, pure politics, don't know really what he stands for.
Bends with the wind.
Bends to LaRaza under pretext that he is for "minorities"
these "minorities" are foreign illegals.
Shame on him.

Posted by: wggodek | August 13, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

So Reid apologized.

BFD.

Since when did an apology ever get accepted from a CONSERVATIVE politician? The only reason you are making an issue of his "apology" is because he is a Democrat.

And if he were a conservative, you would just say that his apology was not sincere.

So take your "apology story" and put it where the sun don't shine.

Posted by: Nick_in_Alexandria | August 13, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

So Reid apologized.

BFD.

Since when did an apology ever get accepted from a CONSERVATIVE politician? The only reason you are making an issue of his "apology" is because he is a Democrat.

And if he were a conservative, you would just say that his apology was not sincere.

So take your "apology story" and put it where the sun don't shine.

Posted by: Nick_in_Alexandria | August 13, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

So Reid apologized.

BFD.

Since when did an apology ever get accepted from a CONSERVATIVE politician? The only reason you are making an issue of his "apology" is because he is a Democrat.

And if he were a conservative, you would just say that his apology was not sincere.

So take your "apology story" and put it where the sun don't shine.

Posted by: Nick_in_Alexandria | August 13, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Reid is as corrupt as they come. We are not worried about his upcoming senate race, but we do want him to go to jail. He has done more harm to this country than anyone in this corrpt nest that calls itself a senate.

Posted by: Prof-Dr-G | August 13, 2010 8:56 PM | Report abuse

"Why would anyone want to give automatic citizenship to the children of illegals born in the US."

Could it be because the Constitution say so?

Just asking.

Posted by: grosmec | August 13, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Democrats and their lemmings are hilarious. What a bunch of losers and enablers. Keep them coming Dems. We've just witnessed the worlds most short-lived honeymoon between a political party and the voting public. Remember Dems ...a short 18 months ago you were singing funeral dirges for the Repubs. Character does count Dems. YOU. HAVE. NONE.

Posted by: canwetalk1 | August 13, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Reid is way beyond apologizing. He has to go.

Posted by: joanz3 | August 14, 2010 2:47 AM | Report abuse

OMG could you have RUSHED any quicker to defend your party? you JournOlisters really are a "band of brothers" are you not? Could the Washington Post just pony up and name their paper the Media Wing of the Democrat Party? PATHETIC!

Posted by: Jaded2 | August 14, 2010 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Sargent continues working on his advocating for the Democrat Party and the Washington Post continues to endorse it. A person who was a member of JournOlist should not be permitted to write for a legitimate newspaper. But then again, who said the Washington Post was legitimate? Must be why the circulation is what it is. Of course some of us read it to expose the corruption of the media. I wonder how much of their readership is due to the search for bad examples?

Posted by: lavistabb | August 14, 2010 7:44 AM | Report abuse

The dumbest senator in the bunch refers to the "low point in his career" only to avoid the next one, getting bounced from the senate. If only the GOP wasn't trotting out Sharon Angle..........who strangely is his best hope. But who needs 6 more years of a devious delusional moron in the senate? Excepting Barack Pbama, that is!

Posted by: buggerianpaisley1 | August 14, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

The right-wing meme about Harry Reid is burning furiously today.

"If you don't believe that Harry Reid is a moron, then you are a moron too" goes the mindless rant.

Harry Reid is not a moron. He's a Mormon.

The right-wing is again depending on a spelling error to gain political power!

Next: Quail vs. Quayle.

Posted by: jkrogman | August 14, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Oh, isn't it possible or even likely that Angle is merely giving voice to the mutterings of the back-channels of Republican Party politics?

I mean, look at the outpouring of ad hominem from the Right. They have little else to offer.

It's just that Angle is not aware that these mutterings are not ready for prime-time. And Neither is she. Nor the right-wing mosquitoes.

Posted by: jkrogman | August 14, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

It's too bad that Reid apologized for one of the few smart things he ever attempted.

Posted by: PeteMoylan | August 14, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Crack pot fringe. Hmm...The Fourtheenth amendment started out with five parts, including the constitutional disenfranchisement of women (where they were allowd to vote in some states)It provided citizenship rights to native americans, freed slaves and their offspring. Whereas before the constitution only counted them as 3/5th of a person. At the present time only the first part of the amendment is still in force. Presently only the first clause is still in effect which guarantees due process. The amendment has evolved and been amended over time. It took another 50 years for women to get the vote. What is wrong with adapting the constitution to reflect the realities of today. Read up on Wendell Phillips. The protections provides for the 14th concerned those brought here without contract or consent and the native population suffering the imposition of a government not of their choosing. The protection was NOT devised for illegal border crossers. Democrats need to support law and order and provide and assure for their enforcement.

Posted by: harryk1 | August 14, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Harry Reid said one thing at one time to get votes and changed his mind subsequently to win votes. He is the perfect example of a politician who only has two aims in life: first they want to get elected to office and second they want to get reelected. If one wants to know why our political system has failed ordinary Americans, one only has to look at Harry Reid. He does not care what is good or bad public policy, he does not care if he enacts legislation that benefits or hurts ordinary hard working Americans, and he does not care what impact anything he does or does not do has on this nation, but he does care about his reelection. The time has come to throw political hacks like Harry Reid out of office whether they be Democrats or Republicans does not matter: throw them out of office.

Posted by: jeffreed | August 15, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

ahahahahaha. i feel bad for greg sargent having to write that title. he's like a lawyer with the worlds worst clients.

Posted by: dummypants | August 19, 2010 3:23 AM | Report abuse

funny when you're explaining harry reid's support for it, its "end birthright citizenship" but when its lindsey graham or michael steele, its "repeal the 14th amendment". repeal the 14th amendment? what an extreme and indefensible distortion - comparing slavery to closing a loophole which allows illegal immigrants to make a mockery out of ur finest anmendment

Posted by: dummypants | August 19, 2010 3:27 AM | Report abuse

This is rich! Looks like the sniveler from Nevada was right before he was wrong.

Too bad Harry Reid's anti-birthright bill didn't pass back then. Our present outlaw immigrant plague may have been prevented.

Birthright has become one of the biggest, immigration scams going.

Posted by: battleground51 | August 19, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations Greg as being a member of mop and pail liberal cleanup squad. Harry needs all the cleanup you can muster.

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