On Wednesday, President Trump stated that he is thinking of issuing an executive order that would prevent the children born on American soil to illegal immigrants from gaining automatic American citizenship, calling so-called “birthright citizenship” “frankly ridiculous.”
Trump told reporters, “Birthright citizenship — where you have a baby in our land, walk over the border, have a baby, congratulations — the baby is now a U.S. citizen. We’re looking at it very, very seriously.” When he was apprised that one reporter knew of Trump’s intent to go forward with an executive order, which he had mentioned in 2018, he responded, ‘‘I don’t know how you found that out, but that’s very good. We’re looking at birthright citizenship very seriously. It’s frankly ridiculous.”
In October 2018, speaking to Axios, Trump stated, “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. It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.” When interviewer Jonathan Swan asked whether he had “talked about it with counsel,” Trump answered, “Yeah, I have.” He was then asked where in the process he was, prompting Trump to reply, “It’s in the process; it will happen … an executive order, that’s what you’re talking about … I didn’t think anybody knew that but me. I thought I was the only one. Jonathan, I’m impressed.”
In 2010, the Pew Hispanic Center estimated that roughly 8% of children born in the United States were born to illegal immigrants, a total of 340,000 babies.
In 1993, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), introduced the ‘‘Immigration Stabilization Act of 1993.” As even left-leaning Politifact admitted, “Section 1001, entitled ‘Basis of Citizenship Clarified,’ said, in effect, that children born in United States to parents who are illegal immigrants would not become U.S. citizens. And just in case there was any confusion about the matter, a press release that Reid’s office issued a day later states that the bill ‘clarifies that a person born in the United States to an alien mother who is not a lawful resident is not a U.S. citizen.’ Five years later, Reid switched his position, saying he was “embarrassed that I made such a proposal.”
Defenders of birthright citizenship claim that the 14th Amendment supports their position. The Amendment 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. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Vice President Mike Pence has differed, saying in 2018, “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.”