Law & the Courts

Grassley, Ryan: You Cannot End Birthright Citizenship by Executive Order

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) discusses the FBI background investigation into the assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., October 4, 2018. (Yuri Gripas/REUTERS)

Updated 4:06pm:

Senator Chuck Grassley and House Speaker Paul Ryan objected Tuesday to President Trump’s suggestion that he could end birthright citizenship by executive order.

“I am not a lawyer but it seems to me it would take a constitutional amendment to change that as opposed to an executive order,” Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee told Iowa’s CBS2.

Most legal scholars believe the 14th Amendment to the Constitution provides citizenship to all children born on U.S. soil, regardless of their parents’ legal status.

The Amendment 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.”

“It seems to me ‘born in the United States’ is pretty simple. ‘Subject to the jurisdiction thereof’ might be a little more debatable by lawyers,” Grassley said.

Ryan agreed, saying “you obviously cannot do that.”

“You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order,” the Republican House speaker told Lexington, Kentucky’s WVLK radio. “We didn’t like it when Obama tried changing immigration laws via executive action, and obviously as conservatives we believe in the Constitution.”

Trump said Tuesday that he is planning an executive order that would scrap the right to citizenship of all children of illegal immigrants.

“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,” the president said. “It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”

In fact, a few dozen countries, including Canada, Mexico, and many South American nations offer some form of birthright citizenship.

“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump said. “You can definitely do it with an act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”

Such an order from the president would likely face immediate court challenges.

Grassley said he had heard Congress may be able to pass a law to alter birthright citizenship, but said he would hold off on further remarks until he has seen Trump’s executive order.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Making Sense of the Iran Chaos

One would prefer that correct decisions be made according to careful, deliberate plan. But a correct decision made impulsively, through a troubling process, is still nonetheless correct, and so it is with Donald Trump’s decision to refrain from military action against Iran. The proposed strike would represent a ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Pro-Abortion Nonsense from John Irving

The novelist has put up a lot of easy targets in his New York Times op-ed. I am going to take aim at six of his points, starting with his strongest one. First: Irving asserts that abortion was legal in our country from Puritan times until the 1840s, at least before “quickening.” That’s an overstatement. ... Read More
Politics & Policy

New Deal . . . Conservatives?

I am second to none in my admiration for William F. Buckley Jr., but on matters of electoral politics his judgment was not exactly infallible. For example, he floated the idea of having former president Dwight Eisenhower join Barry Goldwater’s ticket as the vice-presidential nominee, which was possibly ... Read More