Embattled Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is in trouble again in Nevada, this time for clumsily trying to brush off the Pew Hispanic Center's estimate of the numbers of illegal aliens in the state. (Critics slam Harry Reid's immigration remark, by Scott Wong, Politico.com, July 14 2010).
Reid has a history of verbal slips. Last year, he suffered the usual two minutes of Politically Correct hate for noting that Barack Obama did not always use a "negro dialect." Reid was actually praising Obama, but the use of the word "negro" was the kiss of death for the PC Left and for the usual opportunistically unprincipled Republicans.
However, in the early to mid 1990s, Harry Reid did more than make a verbal slip— he advocated what is now an even more timely, but profoundly Politically Incorrect, policy.
In 1993, Reid introduced the Immigration Stabilization Act [S.1351] which cracked down on illegal immigration, greatly reduced legal immigration, and ended birthright citizenship. He reintroduced a slightly watered-down version (e.g. did not deal with Birthright Citizenship and allowed an additional 35,000 legal immigrants) in 1994. [S.1923]
Reid was virtually alone in this fight. He got only three and four cosponsors for the respective bills.
While I knew the Open Borders lobby had stolen the word "immigration reform" to mean amnesty, it was not until I read Reid's press release from the 1993 that I realized they also stole "comprehensive immigration reform." Reid announced his bill as "the first and only comprehensive immigration reform bill in Congress."
Needless to say, Reid's idea of "comprehensive immigration reform" is quite different today. Earlier this year, his office began circulating a detailed "Conceptual Proposal for Immigration Reform" around the Hill. [PDF] The differences could not be more striking.
Work based immigration:
Other Immigrants and Refugees:
So what Happened to Harry?
A look at Reid's voting history on immigration at Numbers USA showed that he continued to vote against amnesty and in favor of immigration reduction through most of the 1990s.
By 2001, however, he was consistently showing as a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act, 245i, and other amnesties.
In 2006, The Drudge Report dug up Reid's press release on the bill from August 5, 1993. Reid did not mince his words in that release.
"Our borders have overflowed with illegal immigrants placing tremendous burdens on our criminal justice system, schools and social programs. The Immigration and Naturalization Service needs the ability to step up enforcement. Our federal wallet is stretched to the limit by illegal aliens getting welfare, food stamps, medical care and other benefits often without paying any taxes. Safeguards like welfare and free medical care are in place to boost Americans in need of short-term assistance. These programs were not meant to entice freeloaders and scam artists from around the world. Even worse, Americans have seen heinous crimes committed by individuals who are here illegally." [FLASHBACK: Dem Senate Leader Harry Reid: 'Our Federal Wallet Stretched To Limit by Illegal Aliens Getting Welfare', Drudge Report Archives, April 5, 2006]
Reid's spokesman explained the shift: "He had a change of heart on this issue brought about by several meetings in the community with immigrants and a conversation with his wife." [Reid flips on illegals, World Net Daily, April 5, 2006]
This "change of heart," happened to coincide with Reid's elevation to Democratic Whip in 1999.
Reid should really consider having a discussion with the community of citizens in Nevada. The state has the highest unemployment rate in the Country at 14%. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, 12.2% of the state's workforce is illegal. California, the next highest state is at 9.9%. According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, 20% of the population is foreign born.
Advocating for more legal immigration and rewarding illegal aliens is not going to win him too many friends in Nevada.
Reid's Republican opponent Sharron Angle has come out strongly in favor of Arizona's immigration law. But she has not mentioned legal immigration—yet.
However, when given Numbers USA's survey, she responded in the affirmative to questions about "Do you favor reducing overall immigration numbers toward the traditional [250,000] levels?"
Reid has given Angle a perfect opportunity to stand up for the 14% of Nevadans who are unemployed: simply call for 1993 era Reid proposals on reducing legal immigration.
Will she take it?
"Washington Watcher" [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway.