Boots & Sabers

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2149, 31 Oct 18

Trump and Birthright Citizenship


In an interview with “Axios on HBO” scheduled to air Sunday, President Trump said he believes he can end birthright citizenship with an executive order.

“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump said. “No. 1, no. 1, you don’t need that. You can definitely do it with an act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”

Trump called the concept of birthright citizenship “ridiculous,” even though it is guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which reads: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States…” He claimed, falsely, “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.”

First, I disagree that this can be done without amending the constitution. The language is clear and has been interpreted that way since it was written.

Second, I do think it is worth considering amending the Constitution to exclude birthright citizenship. That was a provision specifically targeted at ensuring that former slaves were granted full citizenship. The need for that has passed and we, as a nation, have the right and duty to decide whether birthright citizenship continues to make sense. Birthright citizenship is rare in the world. That doesn’t make it wrong, but that’s why we should have the national debate.

Third, the only reason that birthright citizenship is an issue is because we do a terrible job at enforcing our borders. If we were more competent at managing legal and illegal immigration, then the number of people to whom birthright citizenship matters would shrink to insignificance. Birthright citizenship would be merely an arcane quick of our Constitution that could be evaluated dispassionately. As it is, the debate over birthright citizenship becomes tainted with overtones of race.

It it were up to me, I’d leave birthright citizenship alone and enforce our borders better. But as I said, if we have solid border security, then birthright citizenship doesn’t really matter anyway.


2149, 31 October 2018


  1. Kevin Scheunemann

    We are in for a period of liberal destroying our borders, so this issue needs to be tackled.

    Liberals hate they very concept of USA and want it destroyed.

  2. Le Roi du Nord

    “Liberals hate”.  There you said the word hate again, something I have never said about you or your ilk.  Guess haters just gotta hate.

    But you have a right to your opinion (not your own set of facts) and, unlike you, I would defend to the death your right to have one.

  3. Paul

    According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a person can gain citizenship if “at least one parent, including an adoptive parent, is a U.S. citizen by birth or through naturalization.” If Trump were to take away birthright citizenship, the Trump children would still be citizens because their father is a U.S. citizen.

    Dumbass.  Go have another Rogaine, baldy.

  4. jjf

    I don’t see your point, Paul.  What is it?

    If someone was using Rogaine, they wouldn’t be bald, would they?

  5. Merlin

    The quickest way forward would be for Trump to issue his EO and both Congress and the White House to request an expedited hearing before the US Supreme Court regarding the current legal status of anchor babies. At that point we know whether this Court feels the 14th already covers the situation, current federal statutes provide sufficient remedy, or Trump’s EO stands until Congress formally addresses the situation through new legislation. There is a path forward.

  6. Merlin

    The real question here is whether the current popular interpretation of the 14th Amendment is correct. Today’s interpretation of the 150 year old Amendment is relatively new. From an originalist’s point of view there is sufficient existing precedent that the modern interpretation regarding anchor babies is incorrect and that Congress needs to formally address the citizenship status of those anchor babies by federal statute.

    The 14th Amendment conveyed full citizenship upon Blacks after the Civil War specifically as a means of preventing Southern states from denying full citizenship status to those same people. As with all things in life, context is everything and there is ample written record of the debate among the lawmakers crafting the legislation commonly referred to at the time as the Reconstruction Act. The 14th Amendment was targeted legislation.

    The people we now refer to as Native Americans were not granted citizenship under the 14th Amendment (1868). Their full citizenship was granted not by the Constitution, but by congressional statute under the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924. In other words, the original “anchor babies” were not covered under the 14th Amendment. If the 14th itself didn’t convey citizenship to Native Americans, then it requires a bit of imagination to suggest that the 14th’s framers intended it to cover future illegal aliens fortunate enough to be born on US soil. Yet this is exactly where we are at the moment.

  7. Kevin Scheunemann


    I have been told by liberals time and again that calling out hate is not hate.

    You dispute the idea liberals hate the U.S.

    I’d love to see that hate of our country stop.

  8. dad29

    Merlin has it.  The governing SCOTUS decision, (Wong), does NOT address ILLEGAL alien-mom.  The mom in that instance was a legal resident.

    Really, really, really big difference.

    Thus, no matter what Ryan the Twit says, an EO will be sufficient.

    But there’s more:  Trump will issue that EO fully expecting a lawsuit, which will get to SCOTUS pronto, and settle the matter once and for all.

  9. MjM

    TheWizard sez: The quickest way forward would be for Trump to issue his EO

    Daddio follows: Trump will issue that EO…

    It would be smart to issue it moments before the invasion forces reach the border.  Meaning,  enforced and lending less time for the Soroites to clamour before some lefty judge for injunction.

    Best take I’ve heard (forget where) :  the “anchor baby” interpretation means it is the illegal alien who determines who becomes a citizen of the US, and when.

    Makes no sense.


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