Paul Ryan Dismisses Trump Plan To Void Birthright Citizenship Law By Executive Order

Home News Paul Ryan Dismisses Trump Plan To Void Birthright Citizenship Law By Executive Order


Discussing his plan to roll back part of the Constitution, President Donald Trump says “they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”

Kevin Coombs/Reuters


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Kevin Coombs/Reuters

Discussing his plan to roll back part of the Constitution, President Donald Trump says “they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”

Kevin Coombs/Reuters

President Trump is planning to use an executive order to strip birthright citizenship from America’s laws, rather than trying to change the Constitution through an act of Congress. The potential move, whose constitutionality isn’t settled, would seek to end the conferring of citizenship to children of non-citizens who are born in the U.S.

“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump said. He discussed the plan in an interview with Axios on HBO that is slated to air Sunday.

Birthright citizenship is guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, under the 14th Amendment. Its first sentence: “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 amendment became law in 1868, as a rebuke to the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, which held that freed slaves were not U.S. citizens. Since then, its meaning and reach have been debated in courtrooms and in American society, with many questions centering on the phrase “the jurisdiction thereof.”

Trump has mentioned the idea of voiding the amendment before — as in August of 2015, when he mentioned it as part of his hard-line policies on immigration during his campaign for the presidency. Now, Trump is discussing the birthright citizenship law with Axios roughly one week before U.S. voters will head to the polls for the 2018 midterm election.

“You can definitely do it with an act of Congress,” Trump said. “But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”

He added, “We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in, has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years, with all of those benefits. It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous, and it has to end.”

Birthright citizenship is the law of at least 30 countries, including many of the U.S.’s neighbors in North and South America. All of the countries in Europe grant citizenship by jus sanguinis — “by right of blood.”

The president said he has spoken about the issue with the White House Counsel. As for when it might happen, Trump said, “It’s in the process. It’ll happen — with an executive order.”

Responding to the president’s words, Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the non-partisan Center for Immigration Studies, predicted, “This will set up the court fight.”

If Trump moves ahead with his plan, Krikorian said via Twitter, “the order will be enjoined, case will eventually reach SCOTUS, which then will finally have to rule on the meaning of “subject to the jurisdiction.”

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