The US government is planning to end birthright citizenship for babies of non-citizens and undocumented immigrants born on US soil, President Donald Trump said in an interview on Tuesday.
In an interview with “Axios on HBO”, Trump said he is working with legal counsel to put an end to the practice, which has existed since 1968 and stipulates that citizenship is automatically granted to any person born within US territory.
Revoking birthright citizenship would spark a court fight over whether the president has the unilateral ability to change an amendment to the Constitution. The 14th Amendment guarantees that right for all children born in the US.
Asked about the legality of such an executive order, Trump said, “they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order”. “It’s ridiculous and it has to end…”
It’s unclear how quickly he would act on an executive order.
“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in, has a baby and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits,” Trump told the Axios HBO series, which debuts on Sunday.
The first line of the 14th 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.”
Trump’s comments come ahead of the US midterm elections that he has sought to focus on his hardline immigration policies.
Seeking to energise his supporters and help Republicans keep control of Congress, the US president has stoked anxiety about a caravan of Central American migrants making its way to the US-Mexico border.
He is dispatching additional troops and saying he’ll set up tent cities for asylum seekers.
In the final days before the November 6 midterm elections, Trump has emphasised immigration, as he seeks to counter his rival Democratic party’s campaign.
Trump believes that his campaign pledges, including his much vaunted and still-unfulfilled promise to quickly build a US-Mexico border wall, are still rallying cries for his base and that this latest focus will further erode the opposition support.