NEW YORK; Oct 30, 2018: President Donald Trump says he wants to use an executive order to strip birthright citizenship from America’s laws, rather than trying to change the Constitution through an act of Congress.
The Order which Trump says he may sign off on, would strip the constitutional right to citizenship for babies of non-citizens and unauthorized immigrants born in the United States. Estimates show over 13m to 13.5m non-citizens and illegal immigrants in the US as of 2015.
“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump said. He discussed the plan in an interview with Axios on HBO that is slated to air Sunday.
While immigration has been at the forefront of a national political debate, the U.S. public holds a range of views about immigrants living in the country. Overall, a majority of Americans have positive views about immigrants. Six-in-ten Americans (65%) say immigrants strengthen the country “because of their hard work and talents,” while just over a quarter (26%) say immigrants burden the country by taking jobs, housing and health care.
According to an update by Pew Research Center, Americans are however divided on future levels of immigration. Nearly half said immigration to the U.S. should be decreased (49%), while one-third (34%) said immigration should be kept at its present level and just 15% said immigration should be increased.
The president’s comments come amid a renewed push for hardline immigration policies before the midterm elections on November 6.
There’s a lot at stake for President Trump. The party that ends up in control of Congress can make the President’s life a breeze or a nightmare during the last two years of his term.
Immigration, just like it was in 2016, is an especially big driver for Republican voters. They have responded positively to President Trump’s calls for immigration crackdowns and his desire to build a wall on the southern US border.
Trump believes focusing on immigration will energize his supporters and help Republicans keep control of Congress.
Revoking birthright citizenship would however spark a court fight over the president’s unilateral ability to change an amendment to the constitution.
The 14th Amendment guarantees that right for children born in the US.
Asked about the legality of such an executive order, Trump said “they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order”.
Trump says White House lawyers are reviewing his proposal. It’s unclear how quickly he would act on an executive order.
Census Citizenship Question Trial
Meanwhile, the Trump Administration has asked the Supreme Court to delay the first trial over the controversial citizenship question it added to the 2020 census.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has added a citizenship question to the 2020 census that has sparked six lawsuits from dozens of states, cities and other groups that want it removed.
The emergency request to the high court for delaying the trial comes less than a week before the first trial is scheduled to begin on Nov. 5 for the two lead lawsuits in New York City.
The Census Bureau has been waiting for a decision on the citizenship question to finalize the census form. Printing of the 2020 census forms is scheduled to begin in May.
More than two dozen states and cities, as well as other groups, are suing the administration to stop its plans to add the question. Potential trials for the cases in California and Maryland could start in January.
Whether the citizenship question remains or is removed could have lasting impacts on how political power and federal funding are shared in the U.S. Population numbers from the once-a-decade head count will be used to divide up congressional seats and Electoral College votes — plus an estimated $800 billion annually in tax dollars — among the states.
The citizenship question was added in March by Trump’s Administration on grounds that the Justice Department needed the question to better enforce the Voting Rights Act’s protections against discrimination of racial and language minorities.
The lawsuits’ plaintiffs argue that the census could discriminate against immigrant communities of color by adding the question. They cite Census Bureau research that suggests asking about U.S. citizenship status could scare non-citizens from taking part in the census and harm the accuracy of the information collected.
The plaintiffs also point out that the administration overruled warnings against the question from Census Bureau researchers, who urged the commerce secretary to choose an alternative method for generating citizenship data that would produce more accurate information and cost less money.