During a hearing Tuesday, Tennessee state Rep. Curry Todd (R) asked a health official if a state health program that helps pregnant women checks the immigration status of its patients before offering benefits. After he was informed that the federal government doesn’t allow citizenship tests for prenatal care because all children born in the U.S. are automatically American citizens, he warned that without status checks, immigrants will “go out there like rats and multiply.” Watch it:
“No other lawmakers on the state Fiscal Review Committee responded to the remarks,” the AP reported. In a follow up interview, he told the newswire service that he should have used less offensive words, saying, “I was actually wrong, and I admit when I’m wrong.” However, he said it would have better to use the term “anchor babies” — an unquestionably offensive term. Indeed, his rhetoric, while extreme, reflects a disturbingly common view amongst mainstream conservative leaders. ThinkProgress identified 130 Republicans in Congress, along with over a third of the incoming GOP freshmen class, who want to end the Constitutional guarantee on birthright citizenship. These include such prominent leaders as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and even some “moderates,” like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).