Trump Says He Plans To Sign Executive Order To Terminate Birthright Citizenship

President Donald Trump has revealed that he plans to sign an executive order that would remove the right to citizenship for babies of non-U.S. citizens and undocumented immigrants born on U.S. soil.

In an excerpt of an interview with Axios, which is set to air on HBO on Sunday, the U.S. leader said that he has already run the idea of ending birthright citizenship by his counsel and plans to introduce an executive order ending the longstanding right. 

"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 for 85 years, with all of those benefits," Trump said in the interview. 

In fact, the U.S. is not alone in granting birthright citizenship. A number of countries, including the U.S.'s northern neighbor, Canada, do so. Still, the president said: "It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous. And it has to end."

The U.S. leader said that he had always been told "that you needed a constitutional amendment" to end birthright citizenship. "Guess what?" he said. "You don't." 

"You can definitely do it with an Act of Congress," the president said. "But now they're saying I can do it just with an executive order. It'll happen. With an executive order."

Trump did not provide a specific timeline for when he might seek to sign such an executive order, but he did say that he had already discussed the idea with White House counsel, adding that efforts were "in the process."

In a statement emailed to Newsweek, Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Immigrants' Rights Project said that "the president cannot erase the Constitution with an executive order."

"The 14th Amendment's citizenship guarantee is clear," Jadwat said, adding: "This is a transparent and blatantly unconstitutional attempt to sow division and fan the flames of anti-immigrant hatred in the days ahead of the midterms." 

While the Trump administration has made cracking down on immigration a central focus of its leadership, ending birthright citizenship would be one of it's most dramatic efforts in its hardline campaign yet.

Still, it is unclear whether Trump actually has the authority to strip citizenship away from those born in the U.S. with an executive order. If the U.S. leader does sign such an order, the move would likely be met with legal challenges from rights and immigration advocacy groups. 

As Axios notes, such legal challenges would likely force the courts to rule on whether the 14th Amendment, which asserts that "all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction of, are citizens of the United States," should bar the Trump administration from taking citizenship rights away from those born on U.S. soil.

The 14th Amendment was adopted on July 9, 1868, following the American Civil War with the aim of guaranteeing the equal citizenship rights of freed slaves. 

This article has been updated with information on birthright citizenship in countries outside the U.S. and comments from the American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants' Rights Project Director Omar Jadwat. 

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