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Donald Trump is defending his controversial immigration plan, telling Fox News’ Bill O'Reilly that the 14th Amendment — which guarantees citizenship to all people “born or naturalized in the United States,” including children whose parents came to the country illegally — is unconstitutional.
“It’s not going to hold up in court,” Trump said on The Factor Tuesday.
On Sunday, the Republican frontrunner released his formal plan for immigration reform, calling for a wall across the southern border to be paid for by Mexico, the defunding of so-called sanctuary cities and the “mandatory return of all criminal aliens” to their home countries — including so-called birthright citizens protected by the 14th Amendment.
“We’re going to keep the families together, but they have to go,“ Trump said on NBC’s Meet the Press.
“What happens is, they’re in Mexico, they’re going to have a baby, they move over here for a couple of days, they have the baby,” Trump told O’Reilly. "When people are illegally in the country, they have to go.”
He added: "Now, the good ones — there are plenty of good ones — will work, so it’s expedited, we can expedite it where they come back in, but they come back legally.”
O’Reilly said Trump’s plan would mean “federal police kicking in the doors in barrios around the country dragging families out and putting them on a bus.”
“I don’t think they have American citizenship,“ the real estate mogul and former Celebrity Apprentice host replied. “We have to start a process where we take back our country. Our country is going to hell. We have to start a process, Bill, where we take back our country.”
O’Reilly asked Trump if he would seek to amend the amendment.
“It would take too long,” Trump said. “I’d much rather find out whether or not anchor babies are actually citizens because a lot of people don’t think they are.”
Trump’s plan was praised by ultraconservatives, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
“The immigration plan of his — especially the wall, that’s common sense — it’s a real shot in the arm to constitutionalists and conservatives who want America to be put first,” Palin told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren. “We’re rewarding those who would take illegal action. He wants to stop that and certainly send the message that America comes first.”
Tea Party co-founder Mark Meckler told the Associated Press that Trump’s “position on deportation generally reflects what likely voters think.”
But a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released in July found 64 percent of Americans support either a path to permanent legal status or citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally.