Congress May Be Looking To Beat Trump To The Punch On Repealing Birthright Citizenship

President Trump has brought the issue of birthright citizenship in the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to the forefront of the debate in how to change the immigration system.

During an exclusive interview with Axios, Trump said the policy is controversial, motivating illegal immigration, and expressed that he wants to change it.

Trump then threw legal experts into a frenzy when he said he had unilateral authority to change the standing policy without another amendment to the constitution and even without an act of Congress. Trump said with one signature of his pen he could implement an executive order which would change the citizenship policy.

The Washington Examiner reports Congress may be looking to beat Trump to the punch in enacting a law which would effectively end the birthright citizenship clause for those in the country illegally and for those in the country on temporary visas.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., plans to unveil legislation that would eliminate birthright citizenship, adding cover to President Trump, who faces backlash for saying he is planning to sign an executive order that would do the same.

Echoing concerns raised by Trump, Graham argued that birthright citizenship is a “magnet for illegal immigration” and must stop, adding that he plans to “introduce legislation along the same lines as the proposed executive order.”

Graham announced his legislation over social media, where he tweeted, “Finally, a president willing to take on this absurd policy of birthright citizenship.”

And, “I plan to introduce legislation along the same lines as the proposed executive order from President @realDonaldTrump.”

Here’s more on Trump’s comments, via Axios:

Trump told “Axios on HBO” 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.

  • “It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump said, declaring he can do it by executive order.
  • When told that’s very much in dispute, Trump replied: “You can definitely do it with an Act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”
  • “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 … with all of those benefits,” Trump continued. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”
  • “It’s in the process. It’ll happen … with an executive order.”


The legal tiff will center around the language used in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution concerning a person being “subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” The amendment reads, “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.”

If people are in the country are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, then the argument could be made that birthright citizenship is not in the Constitution. In that case, Trump could change the standing immigration policy under authorities vested to him in Article 2 of the Constitution.

But, many legal experts say the plain text of the amendment alludes to an understanding that “all persons” born in the U.S. are granted citizenship.

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