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Birthright citizenship: Constitutional expert says Trump has authority to stop it

01 November 2018

President Donald Trump thought he had a good idea: With the flick of a pen, he could sign away the constitutional right to citizenship granted to almost everyone who is born in the United States, in an attempt to curb illegal immigration.

Trump's plans to end the policy further escalates his administration's efforts to promote immigration as a major campaign issue before the November 6 midterm elections. The right was written into the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in 1868 after the Supreme Court had ruled that people of African descent, whether enslaved or free, could not be American citizens. That's the case with President Trump's proposal to end "birthright citizenship" through an executive order.

It turns out that it isn't just President Trump who has expressed his negative views of birthright citizenship.

"I've always supported comprehensive immigration reform - and at the same time - the elimination of birthright citizenship", Graham added.

Trump argued in a tweet that children born in the U.S.to undocumented immigrants are not protected by the Constitution's 14th Amendment. "It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous and it has to end", he said.

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Legal scholars have had much to say about the 14th Amendment over the years, including U.S. Court of Appeals Judge James Ho-who, in 2011, declared, "Opponents of illegal immigration can not claim to champion the rule of law and then, in the same breath, propose policies that violate our Constitution". Trump dispatched more than 5,000 active-duty military troops to the southern border on Monday as a slow-moving human caravan of around 3,500 Central American migrants, including nursing mothers and children, trekked towards the U.S. border at least 1,000 miles away. "Eliminating birthright citizenship would do nothing to solve our immigration issues", said Beth Werlin, executive director of the American Immigration Council.

In the United States, Birthright citizenship may be conferred by jus soli or jus sanguinis.

After the video resurfaced, Trump quickly hopped on Twitter to highlight that the two were on the same page. He called it "outrageous that the president can think he can override constitutional guarantees by issuing an executive order".

Although Ryan signaled his opposition to an executive order to end birthright citizenship, the speaker did not offer any possible repercussions for Trump if he proceeded with such an order.

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The debate over birthright citizenship is not new in the United States, a country built by immigrants from around the globe. An 1898 Supreme Court decision held that the US -born son of legal Chinese immigrants was a citizen under the 14th Amendment; a footnote in a 1982 decision suggests there should be no difference for children of foreign-born parents whether they are in the USA legally or illegally.

"This has not been a serious debate other than in academic circles", said Napolitano. We have no way of tracking that, so that is our direct message to the families of Central America: Do not send your children to the borders.

"We didn't like it when [former President] Obama tried changing immigration laws via executive action, and obviously as conservatives, we believe in the Constitution", Mr. Ryan told a local radio station in Lexington, Kentucky.

Trump could argue that children of unauthorized immigrants aren't subject to U.S. jurisdiction.

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Birthright citizenship: Constitutional expert says Trump has authority to stop it