In a new interview with Axios, President Trump said that he planned to revoke birthright citizenship by executive order. His declaration raised a chorus of objections from both Democrats and Republicans, with many saying the Constitution prevents the president from doing so. But what is birthright citizenship?
What is birthright citizenship?
Birthright citizenship means that anyone born in the United States is automatically an American citizen. It is laid out in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. Section 1, which 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. 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.”
Why does Trump oppose birthright citizenship?
Trump opposes birthright citizenship as part of his hard-line approach to immigration. He has railed against “anchor babies” since his earliest days as a candidate. “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 for 85 years with all of those benefits,” said Trump during the Axios interview, which will air on HBO this weekend. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”
The president’s statement is not true. More than 30 countries have birthright citizenship.
Trump said that he had consulted with legal experts, who told him he could kill birthright citizenship by executive order. “It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump told Axios. “You can definitely do it with an act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”
Most legal scholars — and politicians on both sides of the political aisle — disagree. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-OH) rebutted Trump’s assertion during a radio interview Tuesday. “Well you obviously cannot do that,” said Ryan on WVLK. “You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order.”
Ryan added: “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.”
Senate Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said the president was trying to divert attention from health care. Voters have said it is a major consideration in next week’s midterm elections. “President Trump’s new claim he can unilaterally end the Constitution’s guarantee of citizenship shows Republicans’ spiraling desperation to distract from their assault on Medicare, Medicaid and people with pre-existing conditions,” she said in a statement.
Said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), the 2016 Democratic vice-presidential nominee: “The U.S. presidency is not a dictatorship.”
“Patriotic Americans must rally to defeat the President’s unprecedented attempt to rewrite the Constitution on his own,” said Kaine.