Trump claims executive order can end birthright citizenship; many legal scholars disagree


Gage Skidmore

President Trump

Olga Perez, Reporter

During an interview with Axios on HBO, President Donald Trump expanded on his plans to end birthright citizenship of all born from immigrant parents.

“It was always told to me that you need the constitutional amendment – guess what- you don’t. Number one, number one you don’t need that. Number two, you can definitely, well you can definitely do it with an act of congress but now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order,” said Trump during the interview.

“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,” Mr. Trump told Axios during the same interview.

When, according to a New York Times report, there are in fact at least 30 other countries, including Canada, Mexico and many others in the Western Hemisphere, grant automatic birthright citizenship, according to a study by the Center for Immigration Studies, an organization that supports restricting immigration and whose work Mr. Trump’s advisers often cite.

Shortly after Mr. Trump’s comments, The New York Times reported comments from an interview with Vice President, Mike Pence and Politico.

“We all cherish the language of the 14th Amendment, but the Supreme Court of the United States has never ruled on whether the language of the 14th Amendment — ‘subject to the jurisdiction thereof’ — applies specifically to people who are in the country illegally,” Pence said.

The statements made by both Mr. Trump and Pence have had a chilling effect on individuals born in the United States—but whose parents may not have been.

Still, many legal scholars and historians have characterized Mr. Trump’s claim as something that would face a lofty challenge of the long-accepted constitutional guarantee of birthright citizenship in the U.S wrapped in the 14th Amendment.

Birthright citizenship in the United States is fixed in the 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, which states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside.”

This was done in order to grant citizenship to recently freed slaves and it also forms the basis of America’s longstanding policy of granting birthright citizenship to anyone born on American soil.


Mr. Trump’s proposal has a chilling effect on many college students

In the years 2017- 2018, Maricopa Community Colleges educate students of all ethnicities, many including U.S. born citizens with immigrant parents.

Two such students at Scottsdale Community College, Arjenis Villa and Xavier Hernandez would potentially see their own lives impacted if Mr. Trump’s desire to remove birthright citizenship were to become a reality in the United States.

“Well, I think it’s wrong because honestly, ah well first of all America’s built off of immigration and everything, if you look back like when we started, like everybody came from Europe, so I kinda believe like as a culture, that really like eliminates the purpose of America and doesn’t make it how it is,” Hernandez said. “And just in general just with my family and raising, I don’t really see it like, helping anyone in the long run.”

One week before the midterm elections, on Oct. 31, Mr. Trump said, “Even if they’ve been on our soil for only a matter of seconds, hundreds and thousands of illegal immigrant children are made automatic citizens every year because of this crazy policy, and they are all made instantly eligible for every privilege and benefit of American citizenship, at a cost of billions of dollars a year.”

Passing the executive order would strip U.S. born citizens from many opportunities such as removing in state tuition, identification and work possibilities.

The consensus among legal scholars is that Mr. Trump cannot remove birthright citizenship via an executive order—but many of his supporters are eager to take it to the Supreme Court.

“Well I would have to pay out of school tuition in the first place, so money wise that’s an issue. I’d have to work more, but then again, if I’m not a citizen, if they take away my citizenship, it would be harder for me to find a job, unless I have a work permit,” Villa said.

Many immigrant families come to the United States for better living standards, higher opportunities for their children and much more.

“It’s gonna make them realize that um the whole like America is like the golden area or like the golden place to go to for careers, it’s just completely false now, now that stuff that they worked for and everything it just went out the window, cause now it’s like, I’m not American and their not American, so a lot of our opportunities are taken and a lot of our benefits.” Hernandez said.