President Donald Trump may seek to end “birthright citizenship” for immigrant children born in the United States, he recently said.
In an exclusive interview with Axios, Trump said he had investigated the possibility of ending birthright citizenship and determined with his legal team that it’s possible to do with an executive order, according to Axios on Tuesday. Now his administration is planning to make it happen, he says.
Axios journalist Johnathan Swan asked President Trump if he had thought about using an executive order to eliminate birthright citizenship without changing the Constitution.
Some proponents say the measure is possible, while opponents debate the constitutionality of it.
Watch President Trump’s response below:
President Trump answered Swan without hesitation, “Yes.”
“It was always told to me that you needed a Constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump said. “You can definitely do it with an Act of Congress. Now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”
“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,” Trump continued. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”
President Trump confirmed he had discussed the measure with his legal counsel.
“Where in the process are you?” Swan asked.
“It’s in the process. It’ll happen,” President Trump said.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) October 30, 2018
Opponents of the move say that birthright citizenship is protected under the Fourteenth Amendment and cannot be changed without an act of Congress.
The Amendment 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.”
However, constitutional scholar John Eastman said the phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” was intended to designate between those with complete allegiance to the U.S., such as citizens and migrants who hold green cards, yet the Constitution has been misinterpreted as courts fail to recognize that designation.
Eastman added that the Fourteenth Amendment had not been applied to undocumented immigrants until the 1960s. Once its use began, the number of immigrant children born in the U.S. skyrocketed as the children began to obtain citizenship – bringing rise to the term “anchor babies” used by critics of the process.
In 2016, the largest number of these births took place, granting birthright citizenship to 370,000 children, according to Pew Research.
Ending birthright citizenship would be the most dramatic move yet in Trump’s hardline immigration campaign, this time targeting “anchor babies” and “chain migration.”
And it will undoubtedly set off another stand-off with the courts. https://t.co/YLop8YkG1Q
— Axios (@axios) October 30, 2018
Former national security official Michael Anton said Trump could legally use an executive order to “specify to federal agencies that the children of non-citizens are not citizens.”
It’s not yet clear what legal basis Trump intends to use in his executive order plan.
Axios’ interview with the President takes place in a four-part documentary series which will debut Sunday on HBO at 6:30 p.m. EST.