The Platform Committee just concluded a heated but respectful debate over an amendment to add language to the platform in support of a law denying citizenship to so-called anchor babies (babies born in the U.S. to illegal immigrants). The amendment failed.
The amendment was offered by Kendal Unruh of Colorado. “When I was sent here by the people, the number one issue on their minds was immigration,” she said. “They told me ‘You must represent our values on immigration.’” As for the fact that John McCain opposes the enactment of such a law, Unruh said, “Colorado is a swing state, and the number one issue that decides swing districts is illegal immigration… McCain needs to win Colorado, and this is a winning issue for McCain in Colorado.”
The first to speak in opposition to the amendment was Charles Mifsud of Ohio. Mifsud emphasized that he was no fan of McCain’s position on illegal immigration, but that “There are many other ways we can stop the problem of anchor babies. Anchor babies are a symptom.” He called for a general crackdown on illegal immigration and for securing the border. “If we want to be tougher on immigration in this document, let’s be tougher,” he said. But he defended the notion of citizenship as a birthright.
Other opponents of the bill cited various reasons. One paraphrased Mike Huckabee, saying “We’re not a mean-spirited party. We shouldn’t take out on innocent children the mistakes of their parents.” Another, Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, said he opposed the amendment because McCain was opposed.
“A lot of people ask me why I came here,” Barbour said. “I came here to help John McCain get elected president of the United States. John McCain and I may not agree on everything, but that’s why I was sent here. John McCain says he opposes this law and I’m not going to stick my finger in his eye by supporting it. This platform has the toughest illegal immigration plank ever. I oppose this amendment.”
This speech got a round of applause, but not everyone agreed with it. One delegate who spoke afterward in support of the amendment said, “I’m not aiming at Sen. McCain’s eye.” She tapped her temple. “I’m aiming a little higher.”