Trump cites Harry Reid to back his position on birthright. He’s 25 years out of date.

Pushing his plan to end birthright citizenship, President Trump Wednesday cited a 25-year-old speech by former Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid calling for an end to the practice. Reid responded that his old position was a “mistake.”

“Harry Reid, when he was sane, agreed with us on Birthright Citizenship!” Trump tweeted.

“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,” Reid said in a statement.

Donald Trump, Harry Reid (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Al Drago/Reuters, Alex Brandon/AP, Molly Riley/AP, Wilfredo Lee/AP)
Donald Trump, Harry Reid (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Al Drago/Reuters, Alex Brandon/AP, Molly Riley/AP, Wilfredo Lee/AP)

In that speech, Reid said “no sane country” would grant citizenship to children of illegal immigrants. Since the 19th century, the 14th Amendment has been interpreted as bestowing citizenship (with very narrow exceptions) on anyone born in the U.S.

“If you break our laws by entering this country without permission and give birth to a child, we reward that child with citizenship and guarantee a full access to all public and social services this country provides,” Reid said, introducing a bill to restrict the practice. “That’s a lot of services.”

Trump and other conservatives have latched onto the speech to drum up support for Trump’s push to undo birthright citizenship — a move legal scholars say the president cannot accomplish by executive order, and would require legislation at a minimum, or possibly an amendment to the Constitution itself.

“After I proposed that awful bill, my wife Landra immediately sat me down and said, ‘Harry, what are you doing, don’t you know that my father is an immigrant?’” Reid continued. “She set me straight. And in my 36 years in Washington, there is no more valuable lesson learned than the strength and power of immigrants and no issue I worked harder on than fixing our broken immigration system.

“Immigrants are the lifeblood of our nation,” he added. “They are our power and strength. This president wants to destroy not build, to stoke hatred instead of unify. He can tweet whatever he wants while he sits around watching TV, but he is profoundly wrong.”

Earlier Wednesday, Trump criticized House Speaker Paul Ryan over the Republican from Wisconsin’s support for birthright citizenship.

“You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order,” Ryan said in a radio interview on Tuesday afternoon. “Obviously, as conservatives, you know, we believe in the Constitution. You know, as a conservative, I’m a believer of following the plain text of the Constitution. And I think in this case the 14th Amendment’s pretty clear.”

“Paul Ryan should be focusing on holding the Majority rather than giving his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about!” Trump tweeted. “Our new Republican Majority will work on this, Closing the Immigration Loopholes and Securing our Border!”

The president’s missive came shortly after Ryan’s comments were aired on Fox News.


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