(ABC )President Donald Trump, returning to one of his presidential campaign themes, said in an interview that he plans to use an executive order to end citizenship rights for babies born in the U.S. to parents who aren’t citizens.
But his idea that he could do so by executive order was immediately opposed by Democrats, legal scholars and even a fellow top Republican, House Speaker Paul Ryan.
“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 … with all of those benefits,” Trump told Axios in an interview that aired Tuesday. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”
“It’s in the process. It’ll happen … with an executive order,” the president said.
Trump is incorrect in arguing that the U.S. is alone in extending citizenship rights to the children of undocumented immigrants. More than 30 other countries, including Canada and most South American nations, similarly grant citizenship to children born within their borders.
It’s also unclear if birthright citizenship can be ended through an executive order and without a change to the Constitution, as the president claimed.
The Constitution’s 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, says: “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.”
This is not the first time Trump has called for ending birthright citizenship. It was part of his hard-line immigration platform during the presidential campaign, during which he frequently used the term “anchor babies” to describe children born to undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
“The birthright citizenship, the anchor baby … it’s over, not going to happen,” Trump said in a November 2015 speech in Orlando.
Trump has continued to use the term, which some find offensive, despite push back. In 2015, when a reporter asked then-candidate Trump if he knew it was offensive to call children born in America to undocumented parents “anchor babies,” Trump said “everybody uses it” and that he would continue to do so.