Trump’s Comments on Birthright Citizenship Mostly Weightless

In a recent interview with Axios, President Trump mentioned that he plans to pass an executive order that revokes birthright citizenship to children of immigrants. This is a blatant contradiction of the 14th Amendment which guarantees citizenship to whomever is born in US borders.

I think every American can agree that the presidency of Donald J. Trump is a series of unforgettable events. Unlike previous presidents, President Trump doesn’t shy from controversy; in fact, he revels in it. From Russian spies to American sex scandals, our President sure does keep politics from getting dull. Despite the fact that a man-child is in the most powerful position in our country, he is beginning to tear at the few rules that bind him – the US Constitution.

Trump has pushed his xenophobic agenda since his days on the campaign trail, but this is taking it too far. If Trump could somehow accomplish his task (big if), then how would it work? Would children born in the US need proof of parental citizenship before they are considered citizens as well? What about situations where only one parent is a citizen? What would happen to orphans? Many countries like Germany and the U.K. grant citizenship if at least one parent is a citizen. Other countries like Russia and China don’t require the birth to happen on their soil — as long as one of the parents is a citizen, so is the child.

Trump also claimed in his interview that the US is one of the only countries in the world that has a citizenship by birth clause. However, it is one of the 30 countries worldwide who offers birthright citizenship.

What is most disturbing about this claim is the fear that it instills in immigrants, many of whom travel large distances in hopes of providing their children a better life. Trump’s claim causes panic all over the world, as the hope of a better life becomes more of a dream than a reality.

Legally speaking, the President can’t just say “Let’s get rid of the 14th Amendment,” and it’s magically done. This is a long process that requires both sides of Congress to repeal the amendment and replace it with a new one. It requires a two-thirds majority from both the House of Representatives and the Senate to agree on its removal. Finally, 38 states need to approve it for it to become law. Although this process may seem short, consider that only seven percent of bills presented have even been voted on by Congress since January 2017. So even if Trump could muster some semblance of support, the chances of it being passed are not in his favor.

Ironically, Trump’s claim lacks support from within his own party. House Speaker Paul Ryan told a radio show, “Well, you obviously cannot do that. You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order.” This was later followed with Trump commenting on Twitter how Ryan should focus on keeping the majority rather than giving his opinions.

Most likely, his claim to get rid of the 14th Amendment is just another one of President Trump’s ignorant comments. However, this does open the door to the possibility, if ever so slightly. Now, people are talking about the future of America without birthright citizenship. This ideology may come up again, and maybe from someone with actual knowledge of how bills are passed. If so, then America will no longer be that beacon of hope (if it even is anymore), and we will continue down a dark path, eventually leading to our own destruction.

Frank Peña is a third-year Journalism and Informatics major. He can be reached at fpenaaya@uci.edu.