Eight months after first raising the idea, President Trump on Wednesday said his administration is again “very seriously” looking into ending the practice of conferring U.S. citizenship on anyone born in the United States.
“We’re looking at that very seriously, birthright citizenship, 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 on the South Lawn of the White House. “It’s frankly ridiculous.”
In October, on the eve of the 2018 midterm elections, Trump said he believed he could end birthright citizenship by executive order, claiming it was not part of the U.S. Constitution, and predicting the question would ultimately be settled by the Supreme Court.
The legal consensus is that birthright citizenship is guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. It reads: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.”
“The 14th Amendment settled the question of birthright citizenship,” John Yoo, a Berkeley law professor who served in the George W. Bush administration, wrote in an essay in response to Trump’s claim. “According to the best reading of its text, structure and history, anyone born on American territory, no matter their national origin, ethnicity or station in life, is an American citizen.”
The Wall Street Journal editorial board said Trump’s “birth citizenship gambit” puts him “on the wrong side of immigration law and politics,” and that the meaning of the amendment is clear.
“You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order,” then-House Speaker Paul Ryan said at the time. “As a conservative, I’m a believer of following the plain text of the Constitution. And I think in this case the 14th Amendment’s pretty clear.”
Trump also falsely claimed that the United States is the “only country in the world” to follow the practice when, in fact, more than 30 countries grant citizenship to anyone born within their borders.
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