President Trump began his Presidential campaign in 2015 by promising to get to work on the United States’ illegal immigration issue. The course of action he is currently considering would be his most sweeping action yet.
The President told “Axios on HBO” that he is considering an executive order that would end birthright citizenship for the children of non-citizens and those who are in the country illegally. In the exclusive interview, President Trump told the interviewer that the United States is “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 for 85 years, with all of those benefits.” Then he added, “It’s ridiculous, it’s ridiculous. And it has to end.” Academic studies say that more than 30 countries offer birthright citizenship.
The debate over this issue will focus on the wording of the 14thAmendment, which was passed in the wake of the Civil War. It reads, "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."
Changing the wording of an amendment to the Constitution would require a 2/3 vote in the Senate and the ratification of 3/4 of the states. However, some conservative legal scholars argue that the phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” precludes people who are in the country illegally.
The Supreme Court ruled that the 14thamendment applies to the children of permanent legal residents. While many legal scholars believe that this settled the issue, others argue that the ruling does not apply because it did not address the issue of illegal immigration.
When asked by Axiosif he had been speaking with the White House Counsel’s Office about the possibility of an executive order, the President seemed to be taken aback by the question and said that he had. He told the interviewer that he didn’t think anyone knew about the plan, but Axioshad spoken with a source “close” to the White House Counsel’s office.
President Trump seemed sure of his course of action, telling the interviewer that “it will be done by executive order” and that the order is “in the process.”
As with other actions the President has taken on immigration, legal scholars believe this executive order would force the courts to speak with more specificity about what rights the Constitution may or may not promise to those who do not have legal status.
Scott Slayton writes at One Degree to Another.
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