U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul is stirring up controversy again, this time by saying he opposes citizenship for children born in the U.S. to parents who are illegal immigrants.
Paul, who a week ago won the Republican primary, told a Russian TV station in a clip circulating on political Web sites Friday that he wants to block citizenship to those children.
The remark was made in the interview done with RT, which has an English-language broadcast, shortly after his Kentucky primary victory over Republican establishment candidate Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson.
"We're the only country I know that allows people to come in illegally, have a baby, and then that baby becomes a citizen," Paul said. "And I think that should stop also."
Paul, a favorite of conservative tea party activists, has been on the defensive since last week, when he expressed misgivings about the 1964 Civil Rights Act and suggested the federal government shouldn't have the power to force businesses to serve minorities. Paul later clarified that he doesn't want to repeal the Civil Rights Act.
Paul, a Bowling Green eye doctor and son of former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, has since tried to step out of the media spotlight, even canceling an appearance on last Sunday's NBC television news interview show, "Meet the Press."
Legislation dubbed the Birthright Citizenship Act was introduced in the House of Representatives last year seeking to prevent citizenship to babies born to illegal immigrants even though the 14th Amendment to the Constitution guarantees citizenship to everyone born in the U.S. More than 90 lawmakers signed on as co-sponsors.
Paul told the TV station that partisan politics may be at play in not stopping illegal immigration.
"I'm not opposed to letting people come in and work and labor in our country," Paul said. "But I think what we should do is we shouldn't provide an easy route to citizenship. A lot of this is about demographics. If you look at new immigrants from Mexico, they register three to one Democrat, so the Democratic Party is for easy citizenship and allowing them to vote. I think we need to address that."
Campaign chairman David Adams said Friday that Paul stands behind his statements.
"Illegal immigration is a real problem in this country," Adams said, "and if we can't talk about this, what can we talk about?"
Paul faces Democrat Jack Conway, the state's attorney general, in the November general election.