The Obama administration on Tuesday accused Senate Republicans of playing politics with immigration policy by calling for hearings into the long-settled issue of birthright citizenship.
Hours after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) said he favored reexamining the idea of granting the children of undocumented immigrants United States citizenship, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs accused the Kentucky Republican of posturing for the November elections.
"I don't know if that was based on 2010 or 2012," Gibbs said of McConnell's remarks. "But my hunch is it is based purely on politics."
Gibbs, ironically, was responding to McConnell's critique that the Department of Justice's lawsuit against Arizona's immigration law was conducted with an eye to winning over the Hispanic vote.
"The president and the Justice Department were concerned about the law creating a patchwork of immigration policies," Gibbs stressed. "The case we made to the court in Arizona was just that and the court ruled indeed that Arizona and other states can't and shouldn't create a patchwork of immigration laws throughout the country. It wasn't an argument based on anything other than a legal argument and honestly a legal argument that the Justice Department proved to a judge."
The press secretary didn't elaborate on his charges that recent calls for a reexamination of the 14th amendment -- if not a full-out repeal -- are politically motivated. But his comments, nevertheless, firmly establish the president's position in the increasingly hot debate.
While the Obama White House ridicules the notion of holding hearings into birthright citizenship, Republicans are already flocking towards it. In addition to McConnell, Sens. John Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have all called for re-thinking the 14th amendment (to one extent or another). And as a Democratic source points out, back in April 2008, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) introduced a bill that would have required at least one parent to be a legal resident in order for their child to be granted U.S. citizenship.