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Trump plans to ‘terminate birthright citizenship’

31 October 2018, 12:59:00

President Donald Trump is intensifying his hardline immigration rhetoric heading into the midterm elections, declaring that he wants to order the end of the constitutional right to citizenship for babies of non-citizens and undocumented immigrants born in the United States.

With seven days to go before high-stakes elections that he has sought to focus on fearmongering over immigration, Trump made the comments to "Axios on HBO". 

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Revoking birthright citizenship would lead to a court fight over whether the president has the unilateral ability to change an amendment to the Constitution. Most scholars think he can't. 

Omar Jadwat, director of the Immigrants' Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union in New York, said Tuesday said the Constitution is very clear.

"If you are born in the United States, you're a citizen," he said, adding that it was "outrageous that the president can think he can override constitutional guarantees by issuing an executive order.

Jadwat said the president has an obligation to uphold the Constitution. Trump can try to get Congress to pass a constitutional amendment, "but I don't think they are anywhere close to getting that."

"Obviously, even if he did, it would be subject to court challenge," he added.

Asked by Axios about the legality of such an executive order, Trump said, "they're saying I can do it just with an executive order".

He added, "It's ridiculous and it has to end."

It's unclear how quickly he would act on an executive order. The White House has yet to comment. 

On Monday, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he would introduce legislation to support Trump's plan to limit US citizenship to certain children born in the US. He did not provide any details or a timeline.

Pew Research Center found in a survey published two years ago that births to "unauthorised immigrants" were declining and accounted for about one in three births to foreign-born mothers in the US in 2014. About 275,000 babies were born to such parents in 2014, or about 7 percent of the 4 million births in the US that year, according to Pew estimates based on government data. That represented a decline from 330,000 in 2009, at the end of the recession.

The president also told Axios that the US is the "only country in the world where a person comes in, has a baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits", but several countries, including Canada, have birthright citizenship laws of varying degrees.

In a 2015 analysis, fact-checking website Politifact, found there were 33 countries, primarily in the Western Hemisphere, that allow those born within their borders to obtain citizenship.


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