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May 31, 2006

Pelz v. Tebelius

Posted by David Postman at 4:12 PM

The chairmen of the state Democrats and Republicans just faced off on Lou Dobbs' CNN program. The subject was immigration and most of the talk focused on the piece of the Republican's new platform that opposes automatic citizenship for babies born to people in the United States illegally. Dobbs is one of the toughest critics of U.S. immigration policy in the media and made his point clear during the brief exchange.

Democratic Chairman Dwight Pelz, seemingly taking his talking points from The Stranger, said the real debate should be between Republican Chairwoman Diane Tebelius and GOP officials in the state "who immediately distanced themselves from this proposal."

The highest ranking Republican official is the attorney general and he doesn't agree with this plan. The former chair of the state party said this resolution was an unfortunate development out of a convention and it brings disunity to the party. Republicans are split on this issue.

Tebelius jumped in:

I disagree on that. First of all no one knew exactly what was coming out of the platform at the party, and they listened to what the press had to say not what our words were. And if they had heard what we said they would not be disagreeing with it.

So what were Republicans' words on the issue of what they said was the widespread problem of babies, they called anchor babies, born here only to take advantage of public services and help keep their illegal parents in the country?

Here's what the plank on citizenship for babies said:

We Support the original intent of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution (1868) which declared "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States..." and thereby recognized the citizenship of ex-slaves and in NO way granted citizenship to the babies of illegal aliens.

Andy Valrosa, sponsor of the provision: "Babies that are born of people here illegally should not be citizens."

Spokane delegate Laura Carter: "They are called anchor babies and once the babies are born they can get welfare and all sorts of stuff and we don't want that. At least I don't."

There was some confusion because the initial vote taken Saturday covered all "aliens," not just illegal aliens. The first measure passed by an even wider margin and would have opposed citizenship to babies born to people in the U.S. on student or work visas. Valrosa then made his proposal and it was considered the final word.

So to clarify, after the vote Saturday Tebelius was asked, "You think most voters in Washington would agree that if you're an illegal immigrant and have children in this country, they should not be citizens?" She said, "I think that is what the party would say."

After the taping I asked Tebelius what the press has gotten wrong and she said, "I shouldn't have said that."

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