President Trump said he plans to end the right to citizenship for children born in the U.S. to immigrants with no authorization, or “anchor babies.”
“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,” Trump told Axios in an interview released Tuesday. “It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”
Canada, Mexico, and many South American countries also offer birthright citizenship.
The president’s plan will likely provoke legal challenges based on the 14th Amendment, which states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.”
“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” he 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.”
“It’s in the process,” he said. “It’ll happen … with an executive order.”
The president added that he has discussed the issue with his counsel.
Most legal scholars disagree that a simple executive order would be enough to scrap birthright citizenship, citing precedents such as an 1898 Supreme Court decision stating that the 14th Amendment applies to everyone except children of enemies of the U.S. or foreign diplomats and those born on Native American reservations.
Some of Trump’s previous executive actions cracking down on immigration have been promptly suspended by the courts, such as his three travel bans affecting seven Muslim-majority countries, which were meant to target terrorism.
The Supreme Court upheld the latest version of the travel ban.
Trump has made his hardline immigration policies a prominent issue of his campaign and presidency.
“This remains the biggest magnet for illegal immigration,” he said in the early days of his campaign, referring to birthright citizenship.
The entire interview with will air Sunday night on “Axios on HBO.”