In a report that essentially confirms some of the worst fears of American progressives, Axios said Tuesday that President Trump is planning to sign an executive order to end birthright citizenship for babies of non-citizens and unauthorized immigrants born on US soil...
In a report based on an interview with Axios set to air on its new show, "Axios on HBO," the organization's reporter said such an order would be "the most dramatic move yet" in Trump's crackdown on illegal immigration, targeting so-called "anchor babies." It will almost certainly set off another stand-off with the courts, as Trump's authority to impose such a change via executive order is up for debate.
Trump said in an interview 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 says 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."
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Trump said he was surprised that Axios had caught wind of his plan.
"I didn't think anybody knew that but me. I thought I was the only one. "
Axios later clarified that it had been working to confirm the story for weeks before the interview.
While any attempt to remove birthright citizenship would undoubtedly set off a constitutional challenge...
"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."
...Legal scholars are divided on the subject.
John Eastman, a constitutional scholar and director of Chapman University's Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, told "Axios on HBO" that the Constitution has been misapplied over the past 40 or so years. He says the line "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" originally referred to people with full, political allegiance to the U.S. - green card holders and citizens.
Adding weight to Trump's argument, birthright citizenship wasn't applied to the children of immigrants until the 1960s...
Between 1980 and 2006, the number of births to unauthorized immigrants - which opponents of birthright citizenship call "anchor babies" - skyrocketed to a peak of 370,000, according to a 2016 study by Pew Research. It then declined slightly during and following the Great Recession.
The Supreme Court has already ruled that children born to immigrants who are legal permanent residents have citizenship. But those who claim the 14th Amendment should not apply to everyone point to the fact that there has been no ruling on a case specifically involving undocumented immigrants or those with temporary legal status.
Axios' four-part documentary news series will debut on HBO this Sunday at 6:30 pm.
Watch a clip from Axios' interview with Trump below: