Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 23 May 2019

Donald Trump threatens to sign executive order ending birthright citizenship

The US President said it was 'ridiculous' that children of non-citizens and unauthorised migrants are granted citizenship at birth

US President Donald Trump speaks to the Future Farmers of America convention at the Banker's Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. EPA
US President Donald Trump speaks to the Future Farmers of America convention at the Banker's Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. EPA

United States President Donald Trump has threatened to sign an executive order to deny citizenship at birth to children of non-citizens and unauthorised immigrants.

The president said the move was in the process of happening with an executive order but constitutional scholars believe it could be in breach of the 14th amendment to the US constitution.

Mr Trump also said it was "ridiculous" that you get citizenship if you are born in the United States and not a citizen.

"On illegal immigration, some constitutional scholars believe you can get rid of birthright citizenship without changing the constitution," Mr Trump was asked by the Axios news site.

"With an executive order," the President interjected, confirming he had thought about doing it.

"It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment, but you don't. You don't need that," Mr Trump said.

The interviewer said that was disputed, indicating it might breach the 14th amendment of the US constitution.

"Well you can definitely do it with an act of Congress, but now they're saying I can do it just with an executive order." Mr Trump said.

"How ridiculous, we are 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 those benefits. Its ridiculous and it has to end."

Axios reporter Jonathan Swan asked Mr Trump if he had spoken about the move with lawyers.

"Yeah, I have," Mr Trump confirmed. "It's in the process it will happen, with an executive order that's what you're talking about."


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The 14th amendment to the US constitution says, "all persons born or naturalised in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside".

It is disputed whether Mr Trump could remove the right of babies of non-citizens born in the US to citizenship.

Some say Mr Trump could direct federal agencies that the US constitution does not apply to non-citizens, while others say it would be an overreach of presidential power and would be held up in the courts.

Any court appeal would end up in the Supreme Court where Mr Trump has just secured a conservative majority with the appointment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Mr Trump would have a better chance of ending citizenship at birth for non-citizens with an act of Congress but it would require a majority in both houses of Congress.

Any legislative agenda depends on success in midterm elections next week, the president's biggest electoral test since 2016.

Updated: October 30, 2018 04:23 PM