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Critics Say Trump's Citizenship Move Has Fishy Timing

President talks about ending birthright citizenship a week ahead of elections
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2018 1:48 PM CDT
President Trump leaves the White House in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(Newser) – President Trump made big headlines Tuesday by revealing to Axios that he intends to end the practice of "birthright citizenship" with an executive order. Trump maintained that the idea of granting US citizenship to a newborn simply because the child was born on American soil is "ridiculous" and rejected the idea that he didn't have the power to alter a protection cited in the Constitution. (See the video here.) Is he right? Here's the latest:

  • The law: The 14th Amendment states that "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." USA Today explains that it was added in 1868, primarily to grant citizenship to freed slaves. (Legal aficionados can dig into this primer on relevant case law.)
  • The key debate: It's true Trump can't change the Constitution on his own, but a widely cited op-ed in the Washington Post makes the case that Trump can use an executive order to clarify the amendment's meaning. Michael Anton, a former national security official for Trump, argues that it's an "absurdity" how the law is now interpreted. He says Trump could tell federal agencies that the "children of noncitizens are not citizens." Anton notes the order would be quickly challenged in court.

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