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May 27, 2006

So much for vagueness

Posted by David Postman at 5:19 PM

Republican leaders' best efforts to keep a lid on their internal immigration debate have failed. Convention delegates just voted to oppose citizenship to babies born to illegal immigrants. There was a series of votes on that issue and some delegates left confused, thinking they also went on the record opposing granting citizenship to all "aliens," whether here legal or illegally.

But Party Chairwman Diane Tebelius, and the delegate who proposed one of the amendment covering just illegal immigrants, said their reading is that the platform was amended to oppose citizenship to babies born to illegal immigrants.

Republicans also voted to take a far different approach to guest workers than supported by President Bush, Congressman Doc Hastings and other Republican leaders. The convention voted to support a guest worker program only for people who apply for the program from their native countries. The president and many congressional Republicans support a guest worker visa that would be available to people who entered the country illegally. But Republican delegates said they don't want anyone currently here illegally to be able to become a guest worker, unless they first go back home.

The Whatcom County delegate who proposed the new guest worker language first told delegates of his two late wives who were legal immigrants as well as other immigrant relatives. "So I am in no way opposed to Hispanics or other foreigners," he said.

"If someone breaks into your home, they're not a guest.. If they break into your country they're not a guest. I don't know why they are even called guests. ... If you want to apply for any guest worker program that is proposed and passed at the national level then you must return to your native land and begin to process the application so you can become an invited guest."

When another delegate said it would be impractical to deport all those workers, the sponsor of the amendment said, "We let them take themselves back. They brought themselves in. If they want to be legal we let them do it the right way."

On babies, a Spokane delegate told the convention that in Southern California hospitals are "flooded with illegal aliens trying to have babies." She said the problem is spreading to Washington. "They are called anchor babies and once they are born they can get welfare and all sorts of stuff." She later said that people who are white are being denied benefits given "to people who are brown."

One delegate expressed concern during the debate that the changes would offend Hispanic voters that Republicans have been courting. Tebelius said she didn't think that would be a problem. "I think the majority of the legal Hispanic community agrees," she said.

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