President Donald Trump wants to order the end of the constitutional right to citizenship for babies of non-citizens and unauthorized immigrants born in the United States.
Trump made the comments to “Axios on HBO” ahead of midterm elections that he has sought to focus on his hardline immigration policies. Trump, seeking to energize his supporters and help Republicans keep control of Congress, has stoked anxiety about a caravan of Central American migrants making its way to the U.S.-Mexico border. He is dispatching additional troops and saying he’ll set up tent cities for asylum seekers.
Revoking birthright citizenship would spark a court fight over whether the president has the unilateral ability to change an amendment to the Constitution. The 14th Amendment guarantees that right for all children born in the U.S.
Asked about the legality of such an executive order, Trump said, “they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”
Trump added: “We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States.”
An excerpt of the interview was posted on Axios’ website on Tuesday.
The president said White House lawyers are reviewing his proposal. It’s unclear how quickly he would act on an executive order.
In the final days before the Nov. 6 midterms, Trump has emphasized immigration, as he seeks to counter Democratic enthusiasm. Trump believes that his campaign pledges, including his much vaunted and still-unfulfilled promise to quickly build a U.S.-Mexico border wall, are still rallying cries for his base and that this latest focus will further erode the enthusiasm gap.
WHAT THE CITIZENSHIP CLAUSE IN THE 14TH AMENDMENT SAYS:
“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. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The 14th Amendment was passed by Congress in 1866 after the Civil War and during the period of Reconstruction. The amendment was ratified on July 9, 1868 by three-fourths of the states. By extending citizenship to those born in the U.S., the amendment nullified an 1857 Supreme Court decision (Dred Scott v. Sandford), which had held that those descended from slaves could not be citizens.
The Axios HBO series debuts on Sunday.