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Trump plans order to end birthright citizenship for migrant babies

By Clyde Hughes
President Donald Trump told Axios his executive order would challenge how the 14th Amendment is applied to children of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
President Donald Trump told Axios his executive order would challenge how the 14th Amendment is applied to children of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 30 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump said he will change federal law to remove citizenship for babies born inside the United States to non-U.S. citizens.

In an interview with Axios, the president said he plans to issue an executive order challenging how the 14th Amendment is applied to children of undocumented immigrants in the United States.

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Axios released a clip of the interview Tuesday, ahead of the news outlet's programming debut on HBO this weekend.

Such an order from Trump would be his most aggressive move yet to end what some call "anchor babies." It would also likely be challenged in federal court.

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

Trump said he's planning the move after discussing it with White House counsel.

"With all of those benefits [of citizenship], it's ridiculous," he said. "And it has to end."

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The Washington Post pointed out, though, that more than 30 countries, including Canada and Mexico, have similar policies as the United States.

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The 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, grants citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the United States. It also guarantees citizens "equal protection" under U.S. law.

The amendment has been at the center of numerous Supreme Court decisions. Conservatives have argued the citizenship provision for children applies only to those born to legal U.S. citizens.

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However, federal appellate Judge James C. Ho, appointed to the Circuit Court bench by Trump last year, strongly disagreed with that interpretation seven years ago.

"The plain meaning of this language is clear," Ho wrote in The Wall Street Journal in 2011. "A foreign national living in the United States is 'subject to the jurisdiction thereof' because he is legally required to obey U.S. law."

"During congressional debates, both proponents and opponents of the citizenship clause agreed with this interpretation of the 14th Amendment," he added.

Opponents decried the promise Tuesday.

"The 14th Amendment's citizenship guarantee is clear. You can't erase the Constitution with an executive order," the American Civil Liberties Union tweeted.

"At this point, Trump is throwing a bunch of nationalist immigration policies at a wall and seeing what will stick," the National Immigration Law Center added. "We should see this for what it is, a cheap attempt to score political points before next week. Trump may be president, but he isn't above the 14th Amendment."

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