President Trump said he was preparing an executive order to end birthright citizenship in the United States, his latest maneuver days before midterm congressional elections to activate his base by clamping down on immigrants and immigration.
“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,” Mr. Trump told Axios during an interview that was released in part on Tuesday. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”
Doing away with birthright citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants was an idea Mr. Trump pitched as a presidential candidate, but it is unclear whether he can do so unilaterally, and doing so would be certain to prompt legal challenges.
At issue is the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which states, “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.”
But some conservatives have long made the argument that the amendment was meant to apply only to citizens and legal permanent residents, not immigrants who are present in the country without authorization. Mr. Trump told Axios that while he initially believed he needed a constitutional amendment or action by Congress to make the change, the White House Counsel’s Office has advised him he can make the move on his own.
“Now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order,” Mr. Trump said.
His discussion of the idea comes after the administration announced it was streaming more than 5,000 active-duty troops to the southern border, part of an election-season rash of executive action Mr. Trump has undertaken as he works to energize his anti-immigrant base.
It also follows action by the Trump administration to try to discourage legal immigrants from using public benefits through a new federal rule that would deny green card status to people who use social safety net services, like food assistance and Medicaid.