Just when elected officials from both major political parties are calling on President Donald Trump to tone down pre-Midterm Election rhetoric, the Republican vowed to sign an executive order ending the century-old practice of birthright citizenship.
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Trump's announcement triggered immediate scorn from U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey and other leading Democrats, but praise from congressional Republicans.
Trump said he plans to terminate the automatic right to citizenship for children born in the U.S. to non-citizens, a move that some legal experts say would be unconstitutional.
"It’s in the process. It’ll happen, with an executive order," Trump said in this interview with Axios made public on Tuesday, Oct 30 -- ramping up his tough stance on immigration a week before Election Day.
Lowey, a top-ranked Democrat who represents Westchester and Rockland counties, said, “For more than a century, crossing Republican and Democratic administrations, it has been widely accepted that the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution grants birthright citizenship."
“More than 30 countries provide birthright citizenship," Lowey said, "contrary to the president’s claim that the U.S. is the only country to do so—a patently false assertion underpinning his argument for ending this long-standing policy," Lowey said.
A list of the other countries that offer birthright citizenship can be found in this news story.
Constitutional scholars dismissed the president's idea, saying he has no legal standing to unilaterally end birthright citizenship, while critics called it an opportunistic stunt, according to multiple media reports.
The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution 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.”
With the Midterm Election one week away, and Trump's clout jeopardized by the possibility that Democrats take over the House of Representatives, Trump has been using immigration to energize the Republican base during campaign stops in other states.
One Republican member of Congress, Sen. Lindsey Graham, said he will introduce legislation "along the same lines" as Trump's planned order.
Since 2005, Republicans in Congress have proposed legislation to end birthright citizenship for children born in the United States if their parents were here illegally. The legislation has never passed, even when the House of Representatives or Senate was controlled by Republican majorities.
In 1898, in the case of a man born in San Francisco to legal Chinese immigrants who lived permanently in America, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government could not deny him citizenship
However, Vice President Mike Pence argued Trump's plan may not be unconstitutional.
Pence told Politico in this interview: “We all cherish the language of the 14th Amendment, but the Supreme Court of the United States has never ruled on whether or not the language of the 14th Amendment, ‘subject to the jurisdiction thereof,’ applies specifically to people who are in the country illegally."
“One of the things the president articulated on the campaign trail two years ago was that we want to look in the broadest way possible at American law that may be used as a magnet to draw people into our country," Pence told Politico.
Most recently, Trump has criticized a caravan of migrants moving toward the United States from Central America, claiming without evidence that “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in.”
Lowey of Harrison added: “The president’s plan, announced just days before the 2018 Midterm Election, is a deliberate attempt to fan the flames of division and will only further polarize the nation at a time of desperate need for healing.”
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