President Donald Trump said he is “very seriously” considering putting an end to U.S. birthright citizenship, which grants legal citizenship to those born in the country regardless of where their parents were born.
“Where you have a baby on our land — you walk over the border, have a baby. Congratulations, the baby is now a U.S. citizen,” Trump told reporters outside the White House on Wednesday, August 21.
“We’re looking at that very seriously, birthright citizenship,” Trump added. “It’s — It’s, frankly, ridiculous.”
Trump last publicly criticized birthright citizenship in October 2018 in an interview with Axios, describing birthright citizenship as “a magnet for illegal immigration” and what he called “anchor babies.”
He suggested the idea of eliminating it via executive order and argued that the U.S. was “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.”
Many were quick to correct Trump in pointing out that at least 30 other countries recognize birthright citizenship or “jus soli (law of the soil).”
Following Trump’s Wednesday comments, many again also emphasized that birthright citizenship was a right granted through the U.S. Constitution since 1868.
Section 1 of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment says: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the state wherein they reside.”
Ending birthright citizenship through executive order has been said to be unconstitutional, including by James Ho, a conservative federal appeals court judge who was appointed by Trump to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Prior to Ho’s appointment in 2006, he wrote a paper highlighting how revoking birthright citizenship despite the clear language of the amendment would raise constitutional questions.
“Opponents of illegal immigration cannot claim to champion the rule of law and then, in the same breath, propose policies that violate our Constitution,” wrote Ho.
“The birthright is protected no less for children of undocumented persons than for descendants of Mayflower passengers,” he added.
On Twitter, several lawmakers criticized Trump for considering stepping over his Constitutional powers.
Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris responded to Trump on Wednesday in a tweet that read, “The President should ‘seriously’ consider reading the Constitution.”
“Trump said he’s ‘seriously’ considering ending birthright citizenship — a right guaranteed by the 14th Amendment,” she said in another tweet on Friday. “This type of attack isn’t new, which is why I’ve been discussing this issue since 2010. We must fight back.”
Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, another Democratic presidential candidate, suggested on Twitter that Trump’s comments were being made to distract people from other issues resulting from the current administration.
“Trump is talking about Greenland and racist policies like ending birthright citizenship to take your eyes off the ball — off an economy that’s beginning to crater; off a trade war that’s wreaking havoc on farmers across America; off his cruel desire to take away your healthcare,” tweeted O’Rourke. (Rae Ann Varona/AJPress)