U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday that he is planning to sign an executive order that would end the practice of bestowing U.S. citizenship onto babies born in the U.S. to non-citizen parents, a move almost certain to draw legal challenges on constitutional grounds.
In an interview with Axios on Monday, Trump said that he had discussed the idea with the White House counsel and that “it’s in the process, it will happen, with an executive order.”
Such an order would seek to override the 14th Amendment, which reads in part: “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.”
Some immigration hard-liners have argued that the 14th Amendment is not applicable to those not in the U.S. legally or here only on a temporary visa. Trump, who has long promised to end birthright citizenship, told Axios that instead of amending the constitution, he has been advised that his administration could end the practice through executive order.
The move would be sure to ignite legal challenges as to whether Trump has the power to end birthright citizenship, but Trump indicated that the White House has determined he does.
“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment,” Trump said. “Guess what? You don’t.”
“You can definitely do it with an Act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”
Trump’s push to end birthright citizenship, a policy derided by critics who label it with the terms “chain migration” and “anchor babies,” comes amid a larger push by the White House in the closing days of midterm campaign season to highlight immigration issues and drive the president’s conservative base to the polls.
Trump has railed against caravans of asylum seeking migrants traveling from Central America, warning on Monday without evidence that there are “Gang Members and some very bad people” mixed in to the group, which he has referred to as an “invasion.”
On Monday, the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security announced that more than 5,000 U.S. troops, along with other military supplies, including helicopters, would be deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border to brace for the arrival of the caravans, the closest of which is still making its way through southern Mexico.
The administration is mulling other tactics to block the migrants, including threats to cut off aid to countries who don’t impede such caravans, and an executive order and regulatory action that would place restrictions on the migrants’ ability to apply for asylum once they reach the U.S.
“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 told Axios. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”