President Donald Trump’s decision to end birthright citizenship — the process by which babies born in the country automatically become citizens – to non-US citizens has triggered widespread criticism, even from his own party, ahead of the crucial mid-term elections next Tuesday.
In his latest hardline immigration rhetoric, Trump has said the birthright citizenship “has to end” and he would do it with an executive order.
Under the current laws, anyone born in the US irrespective of the nationality of parents, automatically becomes an American citizen.
“You cannot end the birthright citizenship with an executive order,” said Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, Speaker of the US House of Representatives.
“We didn’t like it when (former President Barack) Obama tried changing immigration laws via executive action, and obviously as conservatives, we believe in the Constitution,” Ryan told a radio station in Lexington, Kentucky.
Trump told “Axios on HBO” that he intended to sign an executive order that would end “birthright citizenship” to children born in the US to mothers who are in the country illegally — setting the stage for a challenge to the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.
“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment, one amendment. You don’t have to do it. Number one. Number two, you can definitely do it with an act of Congress. But now they are saying, I can do it just with an executive order,” Trump said.
Such a practice to give citizenship to anyone born in the US is “ridiculous”, Trump said.
He said that we are the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the US for 85 years with all of those benefits. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end”.
Trump said that the effort to end this practice was in the process. “We are in the process. It’ll happen with an executive order. That’s what you’re talking about.”
According to Axios, Trump said that he has run the idea of ending birthright citizenship by his counsel and plans to proceed with the highly-controversial move, which certainly will face legal challenges.
The Trump administration has said it is planning to “revise” the definition of employment and specialty occupations under the H-1B visas by January, a move which will have an adverse impact on Indian IT companies in the US and small and medium-sized contractual firms mostly owned by Indian-Americans.
The technology companies depend on H-1B visas to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.
The administration is also abandoning the Obama-era rule of granting work permits to H-4 visa holders – who are spouses of professionals holding H-1B visas, a move that could impact tens of thousands of Indians.
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, said Trump’s move to end birthright citizenship would require a constitutional amendment to make necessary changes on who all can acquire citizenship.
“I am not a lawyer, but it seems to me it would take a constitutional amendment to change that as opposed to an executive order,” Grassley told a local news channel in Iowa.
The reaction from Democrats was swift, with some accusing Trump of using the issue to rile up his supporters ahead of mid-term polls, with control of the House and Senate on the line.
“Even as we cope with bombers and mass murderers triggered by lies about refugees and immigrants, Trump keeps going back to his comfort zone, the foundation of his presidency: Hating on brown people,” said Democratic Representative Luis Gutierrez.
He added that the president’s move seemed timed to motivate his political base to go to the polls, the Washington Times reported.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, said Trump’s remarks did not surprise her.
“This is just more of the same of what he’s been saying,” she said, referring to Trump’s remarks on the migrant caravan making its way toward the US through Mexico and the separation of migrant families.
The 14th Amendment to the Constitution affirms that, with very few exceptions, all persons born in the US are American citizens, regardless of the immigration status of their parents, said the American Immigration Council.
The Supreme Court has upheld the principle of birthright citizenship for more than a century, it said.
“Birthright citizenship defines who we are as a nation and is a core part of our American heritage and history. Eliminating birthright citizenship would do nothing to solve our immigration issues,” said Beth Werlin, executive director of the American Immigration Council.
“No president can change the Constitution with the stroke of a pen. The only way to eliminate birthright citizenship would be through a new Constitutional amendment,” he said.
Vice President Mike Pence also came out in Trump’s defence, saying, “The President has made clear is that we are looking at action that would reconsider birthright citizenship.”
Senator Lindsay Graham said that he intends to introduce a legislation in the Senate to bring a constitutional amendment on the matter.