President Donald Trump is considering an executive action to target birthright citizenship in his final weeks in office, according to two sources who spoke with The Hill in a report published on Friday.
The Department of Justice has been asked to weigh in on the legal implications of an order ending an automatic right to US citizenship for children born on American soil to illegal immigrants and short-term visitors, The Hill reported.
The move, one of several executive orders under consideration by the Trump administration in its final weeks, would set up an early immigration headache for President-elect Joe Biden — and could spark a legal fight that conservatives have been spoiling for.
Birthright citizenship is the policy whereby anyone who is born in the US is immediately granted citizenship, regardless of whether their parents have citizenship or not.
The legality of birthright citizenship has been presumed under the language of the 14th Amendment for decades. It 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." More than 30 countries — mostly in the Western Hemisphere — have birthright citizenship.
However, birthright citizenship has never been considered by the Supreme Court or confirmed under federal law.
The Trump administration imposed visa restrictions on pregnant women in January in an effort to stamp out “birth tourism” — a lucrative business that promises US citizenship to the children of well-off parents in China, Russia and elsewhere.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is an example of someone who received their US citizenship in this way. Harris's Indian mother and Jamaican father were not yet US citizens when she was born in California in 1964, but she became a US citizen.
Trump frequently railed against birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants during his first presidential campaign in 2016. He brought the issue up again in a 2018 interview with Axios, in which he stated that he could issue an executive order to end the practice.
If the president finally issues a long-awaited executive order limiting birthright citizenship, it will be up to the Supreme Court to resolve this issue once and for all," said Hauman, an anti-immigration non-profit.
According to The Hill report, the Trump administration is aware that it would immediately be challenged in court if they passed an executive order on the issue. They hope to get a ruling on whether the 14th Amendment protects birthright citizenship, according to one of the sources who spoke to The Hill and is familiar with the plans.