- President Donald Trump is seeking to use an executive order to end birthright citizenship.
- The practice extends citizenship to children born in the US regardless of whether their parents are citizens.
- Trump’s plan could be at odds with the 14th Amendment and the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1952, both ratified by Congress, which state that people born in the US and subject to its jurisdiction are citizens at birth.
- Trump could argue that children of unauthorised immigrants aren’t subject to US jurisdiction.
- Trump campaigned on cutting down on immigration and has condemned “anchor babies,” a term some of his opponents have deemed racist.
President Donald Trump is aiming to use an executive order to end birthright citizenship, a practice that grants citizenship to children born in the US regardless of their parents’ citizenship.
In an interview with the news website Axios published on Tuesday morning, Trump called the practice of granting citizenship to all children born in the US “ridiculous” and confirmed plans to sign an executive order banning it.
But Trump’s executive orders on immigration have been met with heavy legal challenges before, and that is sure to be the case this time, with the US Constitution saying, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.”
Further, the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1952, the basic body of US immigration law, also says a “person born in the United States who is subject to the jurisdiction of the United States is a U.S. citizen at birth.”
Trump’s legal argument for overriding the common interpretation of the 14th Amendment and the INA, both ratified by Congress, will most likely amount to challenging whether unauthorised immigrants to the US are subject to US jurisdiction, a clause included in both the 14th Amendment and the INA.
Are ‘anchor babies’ a serious concern?
Under today’s interpretation of immigration law, children born in the US to unauthorised immigrants gain access to US benefits. The children, as citizens, can sponsor their families to become US citizens as well once they turn 21.
But for a child born of unauthorised immigrant parents, sponsoring families presents serious challenges.
For example, parents who enter the US illegally are required to return to their native country for 10 years before they are eligible to apply for US citizenship. Pew Research Center has estimated that 4 million unauthorised immigrants lived with their US-born children as of 2014.
Earlier this month, the Center for Immigration Studies, which favours lower immigration to the US, credited “297,000 births per year to illegal immigrants” in 2014.
Trump, who campaigned heavily on restricting immigration to the US, has referred to citizens born to unauthorised immigrant parents as “anchor babies,” a term Democrats often seize upon as racist or xenophobic.
Still, federal authorities have taken seriously the practice of intentionally seeking to have children in the US as a way of securing citizenship for the parents, having amped up enforcement against a multimillion-dollar “birth tourism” business.
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