On Tuesday, Axios released comments made by President Trump in a recently recorded interview over effectively ending the 14th Amendment’s Citizenship Clause as it applies to non-permanent or illegal immigrants via executive order.
Ratified in 1868 by the states after passing Congress two years prior, the first sentence in Section 1 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees what is now known as birthright citizenship, which makes the children of all foreign-born parents full-fledged citizens: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States”.
While some may take birthright citizenship for granted, inclusion of the Citizenship Clause in the 14th Amendment was a Reconstruction Era remedy to a pre-Civil War Supreme Court decision which barred citizenship for the decedent’s of slaves.
According to constitutional expert John Eastman, prior to the 1960s birthright citizenship was only granted to the children of authorized immigrants. However, the number of children born to illegal immigrants reached an all-time high of 370,000 in 2006 after trending higher for two-and-a-half decades.
In light of Trump’s hard-line stance on illegal immigration, interspersed with direct calls to end birthright citizenship, it should come as no surprise an order to accomplish another goal of social conservatives is “in the process. It’ll happen”.
“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump said. “You can definitely do it with an Act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”
While details of the plan have yet to be released, U.S. immigration law officials say Trump could order federal agencies to comply with a limited interpretation of the Citizenship Clause which would only apply to the children of foreign-born permanent residents or citizens.
Politicians and activists on both sides of the political spectrum immediately weighed-in on the controversy, with the ACLU calling the Trump’s proposal “blatantly unconstitutional“, a sentiment echoed by GOP and Democratic congresspeople, including House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Several Republicans, however, responded favorably to the plan, including Vice President Pence and Sens. John Hoeven (N.D.), John Cornyn (Texas) and Lindsay Graham (S.C.), who went as far as to issue a statement promising to introduce legislation to limit citizenship for the children of the foreign-born.
Watch an excerpt from Trump’s interview below.
[AP] [The Hill] [Politico] [Reuters] [Photo courtesy KKTV]