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How Trump plan to end birthright citizenship clashes with 14th Amendment



donald trump executive order immigration
Donald Trump holds up an executive order about border security in
January 2017.

Associated Press/Pablo
Martinez Monsivais

  • President Donald Trump plans to use an executive order
    to end birthright citizenship.
  • The practice extends citizenship to children born in
    the US, even if their parents are unauthorized
  • The 14th Amendment and the Immigration and
    Naturalization Act of 1952, both ratified by Congress, state
    that people born in the US and subject to its jurisdiction are
    citizens at birth.
  • Trump could argue that children of unauthorized
    immigrants aren’t subject to US jurisdiction.
  • Trump campaigned on cutting down on immigration and
    what he calls “anchor babies,” a term his opponents have deemed
    “vile” or racist. 

President Donald Trump
plans to use an executive order to end birthright
, a practice that extends citizenship to children
born in the US, even if they’re born of unauthorized immigrants.

an interview with Axios published on Tuesday morning
, Trump
called the practice of giving citizenship to all children born in
the US “ridiculous” and announced his plans to sign an executive
order banning it.

But Trump’s executive orders on immigration have been met with
heavy legal challenges before, and the US constitution states:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and
subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United

Further, the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) of
1952, the basic body of US immigration law, also says that
a “person born in the United States who is subject to the
jurisdiction of the United States is a U.S. citizen at

Trump’s potential legal argument for overriding the common
interpretation of the 14th Amendment and the INA, both ratified
by Congress, amounts to challenging whether or not unauthorized
immigrants to the US are “subject to the jurisdiction” of the

Both the 14th Amendment and the INA include this

Are “anchor babies” a serious concern?

Immigration officials
visit a home.

Bryan Cox/ICE via

Children born to unauthorized immigrants in the US under
the current interpretation of immigration law gain access to US
benefits. The children, as citizens, can then sponsor their
families to become US citizens as well once they turn 21.

But for a child born of unauthorized immigrant parents in
the US, sponsoring families presents serious challenges.

For example, the parents who entered the US
illegally would have to return to their native country for 10
years before they can return and be legalized. 3.8 million
undocumented immigrants in the US have at least one child who is
a US citizen, Business Insider reported in

The Center for Immigration
, which favors lower immigration to the US, credits
“297,000 births per year to illegal immigrants” in 2015. The
Pew Research Center put that
figure at 340,000 in 2010
, but says the number has declined

Trump campaigned on lowering immigration, and wants to target
what he called “anchor babies,” or children born to unauthorized
immigrants who help the parents establish citizenship.

While Democrats often seize upon the term as
racist or xenophobic
, federal authorities have taken the
practice seriously and amped up
 against a multimillion-dollar,
so-called “birth tourism” business.

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