President Trump is planning to sign an executive order that would seek to end the right to U.S. citizenship for children of noncitizens born on U.S. soil, he said in a television interview taped on Monday.
The move, which many legal experts say runs afoul of the Constitution, would be the most aggressive yet by a president elected to office pledging to take a hard line on immigration, an issue he has revived in advance of next week’s midterm elections.
“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,” Trump said during an interview with Axios scheduled to air as part of a new HBO series starting this weekend. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”
Trump, who has long decried “anchor babies,” said he has discussed the move with his legal counsel and believes it can be accomplished with executive action, a view at odds with the opinions of many legal scholars.
“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump told Axios.
When told that view is disputed, Trump asserted: “You can definitely do it with an act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”
“It’s in the process. It’ll happen . . . with an executive order,” he said, without offering a time frame.
The move would be certain to spark a constitutional debate about the meaning of the 14th Amendment. It 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.”
In the Axios interview, Trump incorrectly asserted that the United States is the only country that offers birthright citizenship.
NumbersUSA, a group that favors reduced immigration, has compiled a list that shows 33 nations grant citizenship to anyone born within their borders.
The list includes Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and most other countries in Central and South America. The United States and Canada are the only two “developed” countries, as defined by the International Monetary Fund, that have unrestricted birthright citizenship.