NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Reform Party delegates voted to become "more vocal" about their conservative views on social issues and approved additions to the party's platform that include a 10-year ban on immigration.
"We need the United States of America Americanized," Pat Buchanan, the party's conservative 2000 presidential candidate, told delegates gathered for the party's national convention on Saturday.
The platform additions include refusing citizenship to children born on U.S. soil to illegal alien parents, using the Army and National Guard to step up patrols at U.S. borders and refusing amnesty to illegal immigrants.
Delegates also voted to begin a campaign to "assimilate" new immigrants into American culture by teaching them English and encouraging them to learn American history.
The party's new stand on immigration comes at a time when President Bush has talked about a temporary softening of immigration laws, and of possibly granting amnesty to an estimated 3 million illegal Mexicans who now live in the United States.
"I definitely agree with the moratorium on immigration for 10 years," said Richard Underwood, a delegate from Long Beach, Calif., who wore camouflage pants and a button on his shirt with the word "FULL" written across a picture of the United States.
But not all Reform Party members were happy about the changes.
Kathy Siebel of Nashville — who campaigned for party founder Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996 — says she felt cut off from the party when Buchanan gained more of a presence.
"I'm not questioning the merits of their stance," she told The Tennessean newspaper. "But bringing divisive issues to the mix alienates the people you're trying to attract to your cause."
But national party chairman Gerald Moan says change is a part of any party.
"A lot think that just because they started the party, it's theirs forever," he said. "That's just not the case."