Members of a US-bound migrant caravan stand on a road after federal police briefly blocked their way outside the town of Arriaga, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018. Hundreds of Mexican federal officers carrying plastic shields had blocked the caravan from advancing toward the United States, after several thousand of the migrants turned down the chance to apply for refugee status and obtain a Mexican offer of benefits. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)
On Wednesday, President Trump told reporters, “We’re looking at that very seriously. Birthright citizenship, where you have a baby on our land — walk over the border, have a baby, congratulations, the baby’s now a U.S. citizen.”
He added, “It’s, frankly, ridiculous.”
Trump first proposed ending birthright citizenship on the campaign trail in 2016.
Again, he reignited debate on the policy last fall saying he would sign an executive order to do so. He faced serious backlash from Democratic lawmakers and even some Republicans. They argued, correctly, that birthright citizenship is a right guaranteed by the Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment (adopted in 1868) and any changes would require the approval of Congress.
The Citizenship Clause 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. It was meant to override the 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford decision that denied African Americans citizenship.”
Estimates of the number of births on U.S. soil to illegal immigrants vary. Pew Research data from 2016 found there were approximately 250,000 which equates to 6% of all U.S. births in that year. An estimate from Wikipedia put the figure at 300,000 or 7.5% of all U.S. births.
Regardless, the number is high. And ending this unfortunate policy would be a positive development. I completely agree with Trump that birthright citizenship is “ridiculous.” However, an amendment cannot be changed by executive order.
There are four ways to alter an amendment to the Constitution and they are rigorous:
- Both houses propose an amendment with a two-thirds vote, and three-fourths of the state legislatures approve. Twenty-six of the 27 amendments were approved in this manner.
- Both houses propose an amendment with a two-thirds vote, and three-fourths of the states approve the amendment via ratifying conventions. Only the 21st Amendment, which repealed Prohibition, was passed in this manner.
- Two-thirds of the state legislatures call on Congress to hold a constitutional convention, and three-fourths of the state legislatures approve the amendment.
- Two-thirds of the state legislatures call on Congress to hold a constitutional convention, and three-fourths of the states approve the amendment via ratifying conventions.
Trump has taken many bold steps to reduce the flow of illegals into the U.S. including the threat of placing tariffs on Mexican goods imported into the U.S.
The President announced that the tariffs would start at 5% and gradually increase to 25% if Mexico did nothing to stop “this mass incursion.” In a statement, he said, “If the illegal migration crisis is alleviated through effective actions taken by Mexico, to be determined in our sole discretion and judgment, the Tariffs will be removed.”
He was widely criticized for this aggressive move by politicians and pundits on both sides of the aisle, but Trump achieved his goal. To the surprise of many, Mexico began cooperating with the U.S.
In July, he tightened the requirements for asylum. The existing asylum laws had being badly abused. Asylum had become a fast way to circumvent traditional immigration procedures which are lengthier and more stringent. South Americans were rejecting offers of asylum from Mexico because their real goal was to gain entry to the U.S.
Last week, his administration changed the rules governing those seeking green cards. This will allow the government to more easily deny green cards to immigrants who are “likely at any time to become a public charge.”
Additionally, on Wednesday, they announced changes to the Flores Settlement Agreement which had placed a cap on the length of time children can be held in U.S. custody.