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President Donald Trump may be moving ahead with taking executive action to end birthright citizenship in the U.S. in the final weeks of his presidential term.
While the president has not yet conceded the election to Democrat nominee Joe Biden, and even as legal challenges in several states continue to progress, his administration is reportedly discussing multiple executive actions before Inauguration Day in January, including ending birthright citizenship, sources told The Hill on Friday.
Although Trump had spoken on the issue during his presidency, and draft legislation had reportedly been prepared, no actions had been taken to remove the current law that sees that all babies born in United States are automatically granted citizenship, even if their parents are not citizens.
But The Hill noted that, according to two unnamed sources, “there is now internal discussion about finalizing it before the Biden administration takes over in January.” However, the White House did not confirm any such move on the issue.
“Since taking office, President Trump has never shied away from using his lawful executive authority to advance bold policies and fulfill the promises he made to the American people, but I won’t speculate or comment on potential executive action,” White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice did not immediately respond to the outlet after a request for comment on the legal implications of any new policy ending birthright citizenship.
Trump’s 2016 campaign focused on restrictions to illegal immigration and he brought up the law protecting the citizenship of babies born in the U.S. on multiple occasions.
“You can definitely do it with an act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order,” the president told Axios in a 2018 interview. “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.”
“We’re looking at that very seriously,” Trump told reporters in 2019. “Birthright citizenship, where you have a baby on our land — walk over the border, have a baby, congratulations, the baby’s now a U.S. citizen.”
“We are looking at birthright citizenship very seriously,” he said at the time. “It’s, frankly, ridiculous.”
Lawmakers and other experts have argued that birthright citizenship is protected under the 14th Amendment and, even if Trump does sign an executive order to end it, the issue will likely end up in the courts which have not definitively ruled one way or another.
The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, in part, 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.”
Some have argued that the 14th Amendment has been misinterpreted over the years.
“The Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment was clearly intended to guarantee that emancipated slaves would properly be recognized as U.S. citizens,” RJ Hauman, government relations director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform told The Hill.
“It is a fundamental misapplication of this clause that U.S.-born children of illegal aliens are granted automatic citizenship, much less the offspring of people who come here to simply give birth on American soil,” he added.
“If the president finally issues a long-awaited executive order limiting birthright citizenship, it will be up to the Supreme Court to resolve this issue once and for all,” Hauman said.
According to The Hill:
The birthright citizenship measure is being discussed as one of multiple executive actions the Trump administration could take on its way out the door. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told aides following Election Day to come up with possible policy priorities to push through in the two months before Inauguration Day.
Additional reforms to the H-1B visa program are reportedly in the works as are new measures targeting China. In addition, Trump announced two new rules on Friday aimed at reducing drug prices which sparked legal threats from the pharmaceutical industry.
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