According to the Washington Post, President Donald Trump is “planning to sign an executive order that would seek to end the right to U.S. citizenship for children of noncitizens born on U.S. soil.”
A move by the president to revoke what is called “birthright citizenship” would be his boldest anti-immigrant move yet, and would be in direct contradiction to language found in the U.S. Constitution.
“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 said during an interview with Axios. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”
Trump said that his staff in the White House will prepare an executive order that would declare an end to a major policy within America’s immigration system. It also sets up the Trump administration for a battle at the Supreme Court over the 14th Amendment, which states that all persons “born or naturalized in the United States” are “citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”
Legal scholars have always interpreted that language to mean that anyone born on American soil automatically becomes a natural-born U.S. citizen.
If the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of birthright citizenship could be wiped out with the stroke of Trump’s pen, the whole U.S. Constitution could be erased that way. There’s no limit to that dictatorial claim over all our rights. https://t.co/hfFfsDOAJL
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) October 30, 2018
Trump, who has long criticized so-called “anchor babies,” said he has been discussing the move with his legal counsel and is now of the opinion that he can accomplish his objective through executive action. This view, however, is not shared by many legal scholars.
“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.”
Trump’s plan to end birthright citizenship comes at a time of very strong rhetoric directed toward the caravan of thousands of Central American migrants in Mexico who are walking toward the U.S. border.
Trump has been making controversial statements about the migrant caravan, which he has referred to as an “invasion” by “some very bad people.”
“Please go back, you will not be admitted into the United States unless you go through the legal process. This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!” the president tweeted Monday.
With his latest move Donald Trump is doubling down on his anti-immigrant policies that he hopes will give him political cover and the strong support of his political base. Since his political base constitutes only between 20% and 30% of the U.S. electorate, his right-wing moves on immigration will not necessarily serve his party well. In fact, it is because of moves like this that Republicans may be headed toward a smashing defeat in November’s midterm elections.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.