By Christopher White, The Tablet’s National Correspondent
Nearly a week before closely watched midterm congressional elections, President Donald Trump has announced he intends to issue an executive order to end birthright citizenship in the United States.
In an interview released on Tuesday with Axios, the president said “We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years, with all of those benefits.”
“It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end,” he said.
The idea of birthright citizenship comes from the English common law. The principle, jus soli, meaning “the right of the soil,” has traditionally implied that anyone born on in a particular land is entitled to the rights of citizenship.
Contrary to the president’s claims, the United States is one of at least thirty countries with such laws, including most countries in Central and South America, along with Mexico and Canada.
The fourteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which dates to 1868, enumerates 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.”
Following the president’s comments, many legal scholars quickly raised objections to the constitutionality of his proposal.
Neal Katyal, a former acting Solicitor General in the Obama Administration, pledged that he would challenge the proposal in court if the president proceeded forward.
Former ethics chief to the Obama administration, Norm Eisen, also took to social media to criticize the decision.
Eisen said the U.S. had never had a president “so willing to trample our laws.”
“Probably a pre-election gimmick, but fortunately we have courts – see you there sir if you dare try this,” he continued.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, immigration was a prominent theme of then-candidate Trump.
In a 2015 interview with Foxnews, the then-presidential candidate criticized what he termed as “anchor babies,” — referring to individuals born in the United States to undocumented parents.
“I don’t think they have American citizenship and if you speak to some very, very good lawyers, and I know some will disagree, but many of them agree with me, and you’re going to find they do not have American citizenship,” he said.
Many of the president’s critics have charged that ahead of the November 6 midterm elections, the president is once more trying to shine a spotlight on migration.
Earlier this week, the president announced he would send 5,200 active troops to the southern U.S. border in response to a caravan of what is expected to be approximately 3,000 individuals from Central America seeking asylum in the United States, which he has referred to as an “invasion.”
Early reaction on social media to the president’s latest move on citizenship also included backlash from members of the president’s own party.
“The shrinking caravan of refugees isn’t a threat to the country or the constitutional order,” he conservative pundit Bill Kristol on Twitter. “A president who tries to end birthright citizenship by executive order is.”
While he did not offer a timeline for his latest proposal, the president told Axiosthat he had consulted with counsel and plans are underway to move it forward.
“It will happen,” he vowed.