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Friday April 12, 2024

Trump plans executive order to halt birthright citizenship for children of unauthorised immigrants

Trump plans to issue executive order on his first day back in office, requiring at least one parent to be an American citizen

By Web Desk
May 31, 2023
Donald Trump, elected president in 2016, is the leading Republican in the race for president as he runs for a second term. AFP/File
Donald Trump, elected president in 2016, is the leading Republican in the race for president as he runs for a second term. AFP/File

Former President Donald Trump has vowed to end birthright citizenship for children of immigrants in the United States illegally if he is reelected in 2024. 

Trump plans to issue an executive order on his first day back in office, requiring at least one parent to be an American citizen or lawful permanent resident for their children to gain automatic US citizenship. This move challenges the interpretation of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution, which grants citizenship to all persons born or naturalised in the country, regardless of their parents' immigration status.

The concept of birthright citizenship has been in place since the ratification of the 14th Amendment in 1868, ensuring citizenship for former slaves and free African Americans. Trump's proposed executive order would aim to restrict this right, citing the need to address illegal immigration and prevent the US from becoming a "magnet" for migrants.

However, legal experts argue that any attempt by Trump to end birthright citizenship through executive action would likely be deemed unconstitutional and face significant legal challenges. While the move may appeal to his base and strengthen his anti-immigration credentials, it is uncertain whether it would have the desired impact on immigration policy.

The issue of birthright citizenship has become a point of contention in the Republican Party, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, another 2024 Republican presidential candidate, also prioritising immigration in his campaign. DeSantis recently championed a strict state immigration law in Florida, which includes measures such as invalidating driver's licenses for unauthorised immigrants and imposing fines on employers who do not verify workers' immigration status.

The clash between Trump and DeSantis over immigration policies underscores the focus on immigration within the Republican Party. Trump has accused DeSantis of supporting "amnesty" for endorsing a bipartisan proposal that would have provided a pathway to legalisation for some unauthorised immigrants.

While Trump's promise to end birthright citizenship appeals to his conservative base, legal experts believe it is unlikely to withstand legal scrutiny. The interpretation of the 14th Amendment has been long-standing, and any change to birthright citizenship would require a constitutional amendment or a Supreme Court decision.

Overall, Trump's pledge to end birthright citizenship for children of immigrants is a controversial move that highlights his hardline stance on immigration but faces significant legal obstacles and opposition. The issue of immigration is likely to remain a central topic in the 2024 presidential election, shaping the political discourse and policy agendas of Republican candidates.