Donald Trump has insisted he will move to end the right to American citizenship for the children of non-citizens born in the US, a pledge he made frequently throughout the 2016 campaign and one often dismissed as legally unfeasible by scholars, The Guardian reports.
Birthright citizenship, as it is referred to in the US, is enshrined by the 14th amendment to the US constitution. But Trump has suggested in a TV interview with the breaking news site Axios that he would move unilaterally to sign an executive order that ended the right. Any such order would probably be instantly challenged in the courts.
The comments, trailed early on Tuesday ahead of the interview being broadcast later this week, came as the administration hardens its already extreme line on immigration ahead of the midterm elections next month. 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 US border at least 1,000 miles away.
The order immediately gave rise to pictures of troops in combat gear and armored vehicles heading to join already heavily armed border patrol agents on the southern border.
Trump has characterized the caravan as “an invasion of our country”. In the interview with Axios on birthright citizenship, Trump falsely claimed: “We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits.” He added: “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”
In fact, dozens of states around the world, including Canada and Brazil, endow the same right, while countries such as the UK and Australia endow a restricted version.
Trump told Axios he had discussed the move with legal counsel and had been told it could be accomplished with a presidential order.
“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump said. He offered no timeframe on the signing of such an order. The White House has floated in recent days the prospect of the president making a major speech to announce a tough new border policy just days before the midterm elections on 6 November.
The 14th amendment to the US constitution reads: “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.”