In an interview with Axios on HBO, Trump revealed that he’s seeking to end birthright citizenship. Though the idea isn’t a new one for the President, experts are divided on if, and how, he could bring it about.
Birthright is the concept that allows children of immigrants to become citizens of the United States. It’s in the first line of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution: “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 President believes this amendment is abused: “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.”
He goes on, “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous, and it has to end.”
NPR points out that Trump is factually wrong: “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.’”
Further into the Axios interview, Trump claims that he would be able to wipe away birthright with an executive order, rather than an amendment to the Constitution through congress. Based on his responses in the interview, it almost sounds like Trump wanted to keep this move under wraps for as long as possible. It even seems as if the process has already begun.
Trump tells Axios that he’s spoken to the White House Legal Counsel, saying “it’s in the process, it’ll happen.”
Others disagree. The ACLU responded quickly on Twitter, saying that the executive order would be totally unconstitutional. The President alone does not hold the power to rewrite our Constitution:
It’s a heated debate at the moment, as so many citizens’ rights would suddenly come into question. Some legal experts say Trump is out of line, while others warn the order could head to SCOTUS. Regardless, if Trump wants to go after birthright, it’ll be a brawl.
Check out the Axios clip below.