WASHINGTON D.C. -- (NPR) President Trump is planning to use an executive order to strip birthright citizenship from America's laws, rather than trying to change the Constitution through an act of Congress.
October 30, 2018
The potential move, which would likely trigger numerous legal challenges, would seek to end the conferring of citizenship to children of non-citizens who are born in the U.S. — which is currently guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.
"It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don't," Trump said. He discussed the plan in an interview with AXIOS on HBO that is slated to air Sunday.
Birthright citizenship is granted in the 14th Amendment's first sentence: "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."
The concept is based on jus soli — "right of the soil" — meaning that any child born in the U.S. has a claim to citizenship, even if their parents lack legal documentation to be in the country.
The amendment became law in 1868, as a rebuke to the Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision, which held that freed slaves were not U.S. citizens. Since then, its meaning and reach have been debated in courtrooms and in American society, with many questions centering on the phrase "the jurisdiction thereof."
The law excludes the children of foreign diplomats — and in the 1860s, it was intended to give peace of mind to immigrants.
You can definitely do it with an act of Congress," Trump said in the Axios on HBO interview. "But now they're saying I can do it just with an executive order."
He added, "We're the only country in the world where a person comes in, has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years, with all of those benefits. It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous, and it has to end."
Birthright citizenship is the law of at least 30 countries, including many of the U.S.'s neighbors in North and South America. All of the countries in Europe grant citizenship by jus sanguinis — by "right of blood."
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