United States President Donald Trump has announced plans to push through an executive order to remove citizenship from children born in the United States to non-citizens and to immigrants born in the country illegally.
According to Reuters, he gave no further details of the plans, which he announced in an interview with news website Axios that was published on Tuesday, and it was unclear what specific action his order would pursue. Any such move would create a major constitutional problem.
Mr Trump has ratcheted up his hard-line immigration stance ahead of the US congressional elections next week, as the country grapples with race and national identity amid bursts of violence, including a series of bombs sent to top Democrats and other Trump critics as well as the deadliest attack on a synagogue in US history.
Seeking to end the so-called birthright citizenship outlined in the 14th Amendment would take direct aim at the Constitution and likely prompt immediate legal challenges and potential opposition in Congress.
Changing an amendment in the Constitution would require the support of two-thirds of the US House of Representatives and the Senate as well as the backing of three-quarters of US state legislatures at a constitutional convention.
But Mr Trump said he had talked to his legal counsel and was advised he could enact the change on his own, contrary to the view of many constitutional experts.
“You can definitely do it with an act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order,” Mr Trump said.
“It’s in the process. It’ll happen,” he added in the interview, which will air in full on the HBO pay cable channel on Sunday.
Chris Coons, a US Senator and Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on Tuesday that Trump “was driving a false narrative on immigration” to stoke fear ahead of the November 6 congressional vote.
The 14th Amendment states that: “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.”
A legal challenge would prompt the nation’s courts to weigh in on what would be one of the most sweeping moves of the Trump administration. It has already targeted immigration through a travel ban from several Muslim-majority countries, child-parent separations for migrants, refugee policies and other actions.
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