Democratic senators say pro-life language is forcing them to block a bipartisan bill that would curb the smuggling of prostitutes into the United States.
But the abortion debate is being used to mask Democrats’ back-room opposition to an amendment by Republican Sen. David Vitter that would deny citizenship to the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants and tourists.
“The bill will not come off this floor as long as that [pro-life] language is in the bill,” said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.
GOP leaders are scoffing at the Democrats’ effort to blame the hold-up on the pro-life language in the bill, which is sponsored by 13 Democratic senators and has already been approved by a committee.
The boilerplate language would bar the use of federal money to pay for abortions among detained child prostitutes.
“Some of the suggestions being made now that there were provisions in the legislation that people didn’t know about are simply untrue,” GOP whip Sen. John Cornyn told reporters Tuesday.
“That presupposes that none of their staff briefed the senators on what was in the legislation, that nobody read a 68-page bill and that senators would vote for a bill, much less co-sponsor it, without reading it and knowing what’s in it,” he said. “None of that strikes me as plausible.”
“This bipartisan [pro-life] provision was on page four of this modest-sized bill, so Democrats obviously knew it was in there to begin with,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a March 12 floor speech. “Let’s not filibuster bipartisan help for vulnerable victims just to make a point for left-wing special interest groups.”
Democrats have admitted they dislike the pending amendment by that would prevent foreigners from grabbing the hugely valuable prize of U.S. citizenship by birthing their children in the United States.
Vitter’s amendment says that only the children of U.S. citizens or legal residents qualify for citizenship. That’s the norm in countries around the world, and is compatible with the U.S. Constitution’s text, Vitter said.
Automatic citizenship for foreign children born in the United States is “a huge magnet for more and more illegal crossings, and my amendment would fix that,” Vitter said in a Senate floor speech.
Vitter’s amendment is being backed by groups that want to reduce immigration, such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform, and is been jeered by groups that want to increase immigration, such as America’s Voice.
Democrats oppose Vitter’s amendment because it would also deny citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants migrating from South America, Africa and Asia.
On Wednesday, Reid described the measure as “Vitter’s stupid amendment.”
Roughly 350,000 foreign parents get citizenship for their children each year by giving birth in the United States.
Once U.S.-born children become adults, they can help their old parents become citizens and so give them full access to the taxpayer-funded Social Security and health-care systems. This month, administration officials cracked down on the practice by raiding many “birth-tourism” hostels in California.
The long-ignored practice has put millions of foreign parents’ new children on a two-decade path to the voting booth.
Democrats back the migrant inflow so much that President Barack Obama has even argued that native-born Americans don’t have the moral right to manage migration for the benefit of fellow Americans, or even to describe native-born Americans as more American than migrant foreigners.
The Senate has already begun a slow-motion debate on the anti-prostitution bill, but has not started consideration of amendments.
The 46-seat Democratic minority can block the 54-seat GOP majority by filibustering the required vote to end the floor debate prior to the final up-or-down vote on the bill.
To overcome that filibuster the GOP needs 60 votes, or at least six votes from the 46 Democrats.
But in February, the Senate’s GOP leadership conspicuously failed to split off the Democratic votes for a bill that would have blocked spending on Obama’s unpopular November amnesty for five million illegals.
Staffers working for Cornyn and McConnell declined to discuss their strategy in splitting Democrats on Vitter’s birth amendment when questioned by The Daily Caller.
In a Thursday floor speech, for example, McConnell slammed the Democrats’ opposition to the pro-life language, but did not mention the Vitter amendment.
The Democrats “will fight [Vitter’s amendment], but they won’t have to fight it very hard because many established members in the [GOP Senate] leadership … [who] will eventually cave and side with the Democrats,” predicted Jessica Vaughan, the policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies.
“They will try to do it as quickly as possible before citizens notice,” she said.