Under U.S. law, any child who is born in the United States automatically is an American citizen, even if the child is born to illegal immigrants.
On Tuesday, former President Donald Trump said that if he were to win back the White House in 2024, he would look to end this rule.
In essence, he is saying that he would make it so that children born in the U.S. to parents who are in the country illegally wouldn’t automatically get American citizenship. The problem with that is Trump would have a pretty big uphill battle to climb here, as the rule comes from a part of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that was passed during the 19th century.
In a new campaign video that Trump posted to Twitter earlier this week, he said that if he were to become president again, he’d issue an executive order that would instruct various federal agencies to stop the practice of what is referred to as birthright citizenship.
If Trump were to issue such an executive order, it’s very likely that legal challenges would follow, according to a recent Reuters report.
Atop his campaign video, Trump’s campaign posted the message:
“#AGENDA47: President Trump’s plan to discourage illegal immigration by ENDING automatic citizenship for the children of illegal aliens.”
The concept of birthright citizenship comes from the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which Congress ratified in 1868, which happened only three years after the Civil War ended.
The Amendment overturned a ruling by the Supreme Court as well as rules in many southern states that said that African-Americans who were free as well as slaves weren’t entitled to become citizens of the United States.
When the amendment was ratified, it granted citizenship to anyone “born or naturalized in the United States,” which included people who were once enslaved. In the many years since the amendment went into effect, it’s been interpreted to apply to all situations where a person is born in the United States, regardless of whether the parents were in the U.S. legally or not.
Trump’s campaign released a press release about this policy stance that said he would plan to issue the executive order on the first day he’s back in the White House. Details of the proposal said that Trump would require that at least one of the child’s parents be either an American citizen or a lawful permanent resident before their children could automatically become a U.S. citizen.
While in office back in 2018, the former president said he was going to issue executive orders that would address birthright citizenship, though he never ended up doing anything about it. At the time, multiple legal scholars said they were skeptical that birthright citizenship rights could be rolled back through an executive order.
Trump said that addressing this right is key to addressing out-of-control illegal immigration, since birthright citizenship serves as a “magnet” that draws illegal immigrants to the United States.