Can Donald Trump end US birthright citizenship?

WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Published: Nov 01, 2018, 10:34 AM(IST)

File photo of US President Donald Trump. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the US Constitution does not guarantee the right to citizenship to everyone born in the country, an assertion that runs counter to the long-established legal interpretation of the document.

It's not only the thousands on the other side of the border who are struggling to enter the US. Now, a couple of thousands inside the United States face a threat.

If Trump will have his way, even the people born in the US will have a hard time getting US citizenship

President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the US Constitution does not guarantee the right to citizenship to everyone born in the country, an assertion that runs counter to the long-established legal interpretation of the document.

"So-called Birthright Citizenship, which costs our Country billions of dollars and is very unfair to our citizens, will be ended one way or the other. It is not covered by the 14th Amendment because of the words 'subject to the jurisdiction thereof.' Many legal scholars agree....." Trump wrote in a Twitter post six days before U.S. congressional elections.

The Constitution's 14th Amendment, added after the Civil War, grants citizenship to anyone born on American soil and was intended to give constitutional protections to former slaves. But some Republicans, including Trump, say it creates an incentive for people to enter the country illegally to have children.

Trump said that he will bring an executive order to end citizenship by birth -- that is, granting citizenship to someone by virtue of the fact that he or she was born on American soil. 

With just five days to go for the US to vote in the mid-term elections, Trump is attempting to sway voters in favour of the Republican party.

But legal experts say it is easier said than done. 

Unlike some other countries, in the US birth-right citizenship is embedded in the constitution which means that to end this kind of citizenship, Trump will have to amend the constitution. 

US citizenship through birth comes via the 14th amendment of the US constitution. The amendment was ratified after the civil war to secure US  citizenship for newly freed black slaves.

so can Donald Trump really end birth-right citizenship?  Legal experts believe he cannot. 

An executive order by Trump will be judicially challenged and there are many articles in the US constitution that would make a fight against the citizenship clause difficult. 

Some argue that while the president can order the employees of federal agencies to interpret citizenship more narrowly, the president will inevitably invite legal challenges from people whose citizenship is being denied. 

The case would eventually land at the doorstep of the US top court, which has upheld the principle of birthright citizenship for over a century now.

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