Donald Trump has announced he plans to terminate the right to citizenship for babies born on US soil to non-citizens.
The US president, who is taking an increasingly hard-line stance on immigration, said the “process” to end birthright citizenship by executive order is underway, and denied such a fundamental change would need the input of congress.
“It was always told to me you need a constitutional amendment,” Mr Trump told Axios. “Guess what, you don’t.”
“You can definitely do it with an act of congress, but now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order,” the president continued. “Now how ridiculous, we’re the only country in the world where a person comes in, has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits. It’s ridiculous, it’s ridiculous and it has to end.”
Asked if he had consulted White House lawyers about such a contentious move, Mr Trump said he had and that it was “in the process, and it will happen”.
Any move by Mr Trump to end birthright citizenship would almost certainly spark legal challenges that would force the courts to decide on its constitutionality.
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, US citizenship is granted to any person born on US soil, and ultimately stems from the Fourteenth Amendment of the American constitution.
The 1868 amendment 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.”
Mr Trump’s announcement comes just a week before the US midterm elections, which Republicans are increasingly trying to cast as a referendum on immigration.
On Monday evening, the president told Fox News asylum seekers who illegally cross into the US from Mexico will be kept in “very nice” tents.
Railing against a migrant caravan heading for America’s southern border, Mr Trump said his administration is going to build tent cities in preparation for what he described as an “invasion” of the country.