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Donald Trump’s Attempt to End Birthright Citizenship Is Unconstitutional

Blatant falsehoods and racist undertones aside, Trump's latest threat is simply not legal.

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President Trump is no stranger to controversy when it comes to his immigration policies, many of which are designed to appeal to his base supporters. And in an attempt to do just that a week before the midterms, Trump is making headlines again by threatening to end birthright citizenship. Trump made the controversial announcement during an interview for the new show Axios on HBO, where he said that his plan to end the constitutional right  was already in motion.

“It’s in the process. It’ll happen … with an executive order,” Trump stated during the interview.

In defense of his planned executive order, President Trump argued that America is the only country that gives someone citizenship simply by being born here, regardless of the citizenship or legal status of their parents. “We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in, has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits,” Trump said. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”

This is not true, as several other countries around the world, including Canada, have a similar policy of birthright citizenship in place. But regardless of Donald Trump’s proclivity for lying and/or his lack of knowledge about other countries immigration policies, Trump’s executive order will inevitably fail because it is unconstitutional. The Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which was ratified in 1868, states: “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.”

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Of course, none of this should come as a surprise to anyone familiar with Trump’s politics, as he built his political career on race-baiting and tough immigration proposals, including a longstanding but clearly unfulfilled promise to construct a wall on the border between Mexico and America. Trump knows that immigration is a key issue among his overwhelmingly white voter base and that by using measures like this, he can not so subtly imply that anyone who falls outside of his core demographic is not American, despite the fact that Pew Research estimates that first and second generation immigrants could make up 37 percent of the U.S. population by 2050.