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Trump: End birthright citizenship for some US-born babies

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is intensifying his hardline immigration rhetoric heading into the midterm elections, declaring that he 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 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.

US President Donald Trump speaks to the press before boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on October 27, 2018. NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

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.” He added that “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. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.

Some experts questioned whether Trump could follow through.

Omar Jadwat, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union in New York, said Tuesday said the Constitution is very clear.

“If you are born in the United States, you’re a citizen,” he said, adding that it was “outrageous that the president can think he can override constitutional guarantees by issuing an executive order.”

Jadwat said the president has an obligation to uphold the Constitution. Trump can try to get Congress to pass a constitutional amendment, “but I don’t think they are anywhere close to getting that.”

“Obviously, even if he did, it would be subject to court challenge,” he added.

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.

Trump voiced his theory that birthright citizenship could be stripped during his campaign, when he described it as a “magnet for illegal immigration.” During a 2015 campaign stop in Florida, he said: “The birthright citizenship – the anchor baby – birthright citizenship, it’s over, not going to happen.”

The first line of the 14th Amendment states: “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.”

The 14th Amendment was passed by Congress in 1866 during the period of Reconstruction after the Civil War. It was ratified in 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 ruled that those descended from slaves could not be citizens.

The Axios HBO series debuts on Sunday.

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12 comments

  • J.B.

    About time someone attacks the root of this whole problem..
    The whole anchor baby lottery and the included tax incentives and social programs are nothing but Bait for illegal immigration.
    That and getting the 4 free ACLU lawyer guarantee on your first illegal step across our border also needs to stop.
    Our own legal system is being perverted and being used against the very US citizens it was created to protect..

    Love your country?
    Vote to Save it.

  • Unslaved

    Pay no attention to the wars being waged in your name or the murder being carried out with your flag behind it. Focus on this divisive issue and fear your neighbor so you can never accomplish anything regarding freedom.

    • J.B.

      I do not fear my neighbor….i love my neighbor and want to keep them..
      It is these foreign national invaders proudly waving the flag of the country they are supposedly fleeing.
      Disobeying/disregarding our laws and literally planning on storming our borders with complete impunity.
      Them…i do not want as my new neighbors….

      They are not fleeing war or conflict or plague as refugees by definition…
      They are fleeing what they themselves have created.
      Just look at what these very people have done to their own country if you want something to fear.

  • steve

    The law of “birthright citizenship” has contributed largely to the problems we have today. The repeal of it should have happened long ago, but it wouldn’t pass then and wouldn’t pass now.

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