The issue of birthright citizenship, a constitutional protection President Trump pledged on Monday to end, has found its way into the race for Congress in Maryland’s 6th District.
Democrat David J. Trone posted video from a 2016 Republican congressional candidates forum at which his rival, Amie Hoeber, expressed support for ending the presumption of citizenship for anyone born on U.S. soil.
“Will you vote to end birthright citizenship, which is anchor babies?” moderator, former Republican U.S. Senate nominee Kenneth Timmerman asks, invoking a discredited term.
“We all know what anchor babies are,” he adds.
All seven candidates, including Hoeber, raise their hand, to sustained applause from the audience. Hoeber was the last to do so.
“Anchor babies” is a term used mostly by right-wing talk radio and Fox News hosts and is meant to conjure notions of pregnant women from other nations slipping across the border just in time to give birth. (“That mexican girl’s gonna drop an anchor baby,” the website UrbanDictionary.com provides by way of example.)
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Trone slammed Hoeber for her position.
“The President’s attempt to end birthright citizenship goes against our American values and is blatantly unconstitutional,” he said. “It’s also a stark reminder of the choices that voters in Maryland’s Sixth District have in this election.”
“Amie Hoeber agrees with Trump on ending birthright citizenship and has defended him on separating families at the border. When you go to vote, you’re not just choosing between two candidates, you’re choosing the future you want for our country.”
In a brief statement to Maryland Matters, Hoeber neither embraced nor disavowed the position she took in her last campaign.
“I don’t know yet what’s being proposed and there are both substantive and procedural issues to be considered,” she said. “When there is a specific proposal, then I’ll evaluate it.”
Constitutional scholars have said the 14th amendment cannot be repealed through executive order – and some leading Republicans agree.
“You obviously cannot do that,” U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told Kentucky radio station WVLK this week, adding, “As a conservative, I’m a believer in following the plain text of the Constitution and I think in this case the 14th Amendment is pretty clear.”
The first line of the 14th amendment, which passed after slavery, reads “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.”
St. Mary’s College political science professor Todd Eberly said Hoeber’s 2016 position will help her with half of the electorate in the sprawling 6th District, but not the other half.
“The struggle for the Republicans is college educated women, who are a significant chunk of that district,” he said. “And with Donald Trump declaring that he can undo the 14th Amendment by executive order, I don’t know that that plays well for her at all. In fact, I can say that it does not.”
In the 2016 video, Hoeber also pledges to “repeal every word” of the Affordable Care Act, build a wall on the Southern border and allow persons with concealed carry permits in one state to bring their firearms into all other states and Washington, D.C. She was the only candidate in that GOP forum to oppose repeal of the Dream Act.
The video was shot and posted by Ryan Miner, who writes A Miner Detail blog, on Feb. 26, 2016. The event, at the Funkstown American Legion hall, was sponsored by the Washington County Republican Party. Hoeber went on to win the primary but lost to incumbent Rep. John K. Delaney (D) in the general election.