Gage Skidmore / Flickr Donald Trump...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

In an interview with Axios, released Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump said he is actively considering a plan to end birthright citizenship for babies born to non-citizens of the United States. To be clear, this means he wants to literally change the 14th Amendment. And his plan, apparently, is to do so via an executive order.

Without a doubt, this plan is an effort to discourage, if not actively harm, immigrant communities, as it would essentially prohibit “anchor babies” from becoming citizens. Given that Trump has fixated on the alleged horrors of “chain migration,” his desire to limit citizenship isn’t surprising, but it is rooted in racism.

As it stands, the 14th Amendment guarantees citizenships to all people born (or naturalized) in the U.S. It’s pretty straightforward, as amendments go.

“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.”

It continues:

“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

In speaking with Axios, Trump seems confident he can change the constitution with just an executive order.

“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump told Axios. “You can definitely do it with an Act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”

This isn’t the first time Trump has gone after birthright citizenship. Back in 2015, Trump talked to Bill O’Reilly on Fox News about it, then saying, “You don’t have to do a constitutional amendment. You need an act of Congress… Everybody thought you needed a constitutional amendment. You don’t need that.”

As a refresher, the 14th Amendment first passed in Congress in 1866, post-Civil War. In 1868, the amendment was ratified by three-fourths of the states. Extending citizenship to everyone born in the U.S. was a particularly big deal at the time, as it granted citizenship to people descended from slavery, nullifying a previous decision from the courts. 

Later, in 1896, the Supreme Court ruled that the child of Chinese immigrants was, in fact, a U.S. citizen, thanks to the 14th Amendment.

If an executive order appears, it’s certain to be met with resistance. First lawsuits, then it would make its way to the Supreme Court. 

Trump was also factually incorrect when speaking to Axios. In what is likely an effort to ramp up even more anti-immigrant sentiment, he suggested that the U.S. is an outlier to allow birthright citizenship.

He said, “How ridiculous, 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 those benefits.”

In fact, many western countries, including Canada and Mexico, allow birthright citizenship.

“It’s ridiculous, it’s ridiculous,” Trump said to Axios in reference to birthright citizenship. “And it has to end.”

What needs to end is Trump’s anti-immigrant, deep-rooted racism, not the 14th Amendment.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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