Rep. Justin Amash Slams Trump's Birthright Citizenship Threat: POTUS Can't 'Amend Constitution' With Executive Order
At least one Republican congressman agrees.
Rep. Justin Amash (R–Mich.) is not a fan of President Donald Trump's apparent plan to end birthright citizenship via executive order.
In an interview with Axios on HBO that aired this morning, Trump suggested he could do away with birthright citizenship, which was instituted by the 14th Amendment. As Reason's Elizabeth Nolan Brown explained, birthright citizenship grants American citizenship to anyone born on U.S. soil.
The relevant portion of the amendment reads: "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."
Trump doesn't believe that should necessarily apply to the American-born children of undocumented immigrants. An executive order, he suggested, might clear things up. "It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don't," he 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." The president added that the change is "in the process. It'll happen…with an executive order."
Not so fast, says Amash. He indicated on Twitter that presidents can't, in fact, just sign executive orders to do away with parts of the Constitution or laws.
A president cannot amend Constitution or laws via executive order. Concept of natural-born citizen in #14thAmendment derives from natural-born subject in Britain. Phrase "and subject to the jurisdiction thereof" excludes mainly foreign diplomats, who are not subject to U.S. laws.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) October 30, 2018
Amash's sentiments are shared by at least one fellow Republican: Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R–Fla.) Curbelo tweeted that "birthright citizenship is protected by the Constitution," meaning the president can't end it with an executive order. Instead, Curbelo called for "broad immigration reform":
Birthright citizenship is protected by the Constitution, so no @realDonaldTrump you can't end it by executive order. What we really need is broad immigration reform that makes our country more secure and reaffirms our wonderful tradition as a nation of immigrants. https://t.co/7xlbfrt6rW
— Carlos Curbelo (@carloslcurbelo) October 30, 2018
It remains to be seen if Trump will follow through and actually try to end birthright citizenship. But as Reason's Damon Root argued in 2015: the Constitution is clear: "If a child is born on U.S. soil, and that child's parents don't happen to be diplomats, foreign ministers, or invading foreign troops, then that child is a U.S. citizen by virtue of birth."