Trump Wants to End Birthright Citizenship, Experts Respond

By Shani Saxon Oct 30, 2018

During an interview with "Axios on HBO," President Donald Trump revealed his plan to sign an executive order that would remove the constitutional right to citizenship for children born in the United States to noncitizens. 

While this news might energize Trump’s base and drive home his tough stance on immigration on the eve of the midterm elections, many are left scratching their heads. The 14th Amendment guarantees the right to citizenship for children born in the U.S. It clearly states, “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." The main question now is whether or not the 45th president has the authority to change the Constitution with an executive order.

Axios spoke to former U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services chief counsel Lynden Melmed, who told the outlet that most immigration and constitutional scholars don’t believe “it is within the president’s power to change birthright citizenship.” However, Melmed explains, “some conservatives have argued that the 14th Amendment was only intended to provide citizenship to children born in the U.S. to lawful permanent residents—not to unauthorized immigrants or those on temporary visas."

It is Trump’s belief that he is within his rights to change a constitutional amendment and that, White House lawyers are currently reviewing his proposal, as he told "Axios on HBO." The interview is slated to air Sunday (November 4).

Michael Anton, a former national security official in the Trump administration, told Axios that the president has a good point. All Trump has to do, Anton said, is "specify to federal agencies that the children of noncitizens are not citizens."

Judge James C. Ho, a Trump-appointed Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals judge in New Orleans, told Axios that he disagrees. He insists any attempt to change the 14th Amendment through an executive order would be “unconstitutional.”

Supreme Court lawyer Neal Katyal tweeted a very forceful response: “This is some of the worst lawyering around. Cynical, stupid, unconstitutional, and is just another way for Trump to divide Americans—this time by starting to go for The Full Antebellum. If he does it, we will challenge it. And win."