In an interview released on October 30 with Axios, President Trump said he is planning to sign an executive order that will end birthright citizenship for children born in the United States to foreign parents.
Birthright citizenship is a legal right that all children born in a country are defined as citizens of that country regardless of the country of origin of their parents. While this concept exists in the US, it is also present in Canada, Mexico and many other Latin American countries.
This new executive order would continue Trump’s attempts to limit immigration to the US, from the executive order he signed a week after being sworn which banned foreign nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries to his attempts to end the DACA program which began under Obama’s presidency.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said to the Kentucky radio station WVLK that “You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order.” and showing a clear disagreement with the president on what the 14th amendment says about birthright citizenship, and that such an order by Trump would be “unconstitutional.” Trump responded to Ryan’s comment by saying in a tweet “Paul Ryan should be focusing on holding the Majority rather than giving his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about!” tweeted the president on Wednesday. “Our new Republican Majority will work on this, Closing the Immigration Loopholes and Securing our Border!”
The legality of this executive order has been called into question by many legal scholars, as it would effectively change what has normally been the interpretation of the 14th amendment, where any child, besides those born to diplomats and enemy soldiers, would be considered US citizens. While it is unclear whether the president has the authority to implement this order, it is highly likely that if he does it will eventually makes it way to the Supreme Court, where they will ultimately decide whether it is constitutional or not.
With a week before the midterm elections, and immigration being an issue important to both Trump and the Republican party, it has been noted that the announcement of the executive order was done to energize Republican supporters and get them to vote. Constant talk of Democrats push to retake at least the House after the midterm elections may make Trump nervous enough to want to push for some kind of distraction to be able to refocus the news on issues he considers important, like immigration. In a similar vain, thousands of troops will be sent to the southern border to address a caravan of immigrants that have been heading to the US through Latin America. The original estimate for the number of troops was set at 5,000, but Trump has said that he may up that number to as many as 15,000.