President Trump suggested Thursday evening that foreign dictators could take advantage of birthright citizenship to make their children U.S. citizens.
“Many come from China, you might be surprised. China now is number one, we’re not just talking South America, Latin America, we’re talking about China, parts of Asia, it’s crazy. Think of it, you’re an enemy of our country, you’re a general with war on your mind, you’re a dictator who we hate and who’s against us, and that dictator has his wife have a baby on American soil. Congratulations, your son or daughter is now an American citizen. Does anybody think this makes sense?” he said at a campaign rally in Columbia, Missouri.
ADVERTISEMENT A foreign leader has never had a child become a U.S. citizen through such a method, and were a foreign dignitary to have a child on U.S. soil, that child would not be granted U.S. citizenship under the Fourteenth Amendment according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Trump went on to suggest that birthright citizenship produces a “birth tourism” industry that could lead to a wave of immigrants arriving to the U.S.
“This policy has even created an entire industry, it’s called ‘birth tourism,’ where pregnant mothers travel from all over the world to America to make their children instant lifelong citizens with guaranteed everything, everything, everything that you have is guaranteed: welfare, public benefits, right? Birthright citizens in turn can then bring their entire extended family into the country through chain migration,” he said.
Trump floated the idea of issuing an executive order banning birthright citizenship in an interview with Axios, which released a clip of the exchange Tuesday.
Critics of the plan say it would violate the 14th Amendment, which states in part, “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.”
Opponents of birthright citizenship claim that “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” means only children of citizens should automatically get citizenship because parents owe allegiance to the U.S., while noncitizens do not.
While the Supreme Court has never ruled explicitly if the children of specifically undocumented immigrants are covered under the 14th Amendment’s protections, it wrote in 1898, “the 14th Amendment affirms the ancient and fundamental rule of citizenship by birth within the territory, in the allegiance and protection of the country, including all children here born of resident aliens.”
Trump has sought to thrust immigration into the center of the national discourse in the week before the midterm elections, believing debate surrounding the hot-button issue benefits Republicans.
Trump has also slammed Democrats for wanting “open borders.”