Donald Trump's tough stance on immigration was pushed even further on Monday night, when the president revealed his plans to terminate birthright citizenship

By Dave Quinn
October 30, 2018 10:08 AM
Credit: Andrew Harnik/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Donald Trump took his tough stance on immigration even further on Monday night, when the president revealed that he wants to sign an executive order that would terminate birthright citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants.

“It’s in the process. It’ll happen with an executive order,” Trump, 72, said of his plan during an interview with Axios on HBO. “I didn’t think anybody knew that but me. I thought I was the only one.”

“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump continued, adding that White House lawyers were working on it. “You can definitely do it with an act of Congress but now they’re saying I can do it with just an executive order.”

But The New York Times reported that, in order to accomplish his plan, Trump would need to find a way around the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which gives right to citizenship for babies of non-citizens and unauthorized immigrants born on American soil.

The Times noted that the the majority of legal scholars agree that Trump cannot legally do away with birthright citizenship.

It is unclear how serious Trump is about acting on his plan. His inflammatory comments come just days before the midterm congressional elections — and along with other vows to crack down on immigration that many critics view as part of a fear-mongering strategy to drive his base to the polls.

Kristen Clarke, the president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told the Times that Trump’s latest idea is both illegal and offensive.

“Aside from being unconstitutional, such an executive order would exacerbate racial tensions, exploit fears and drive further polarization across the country at a moment that calls for the promotion of unity and inclusion,” she said in a statement.

Trump also falsely stated to Axios that the U.S. is 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.

“It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end,” he added.

In fact, many countries, including Canada, Mexico and others in the Western Hemisphere grant birthright citizenship.

Immigration has been a major focus of controversy throughout Trump’s presidential campaign and presidency — from his promises to build a wall to his now-reversed zero-tolerance policy that separated migrant children from their families and held them at detainment centers at the U.S./Mexico border.

The president has also been escalating his threats about a migrant caravan of 4,000 Central Americans walking through Central America fleeing violence and grim living conditions in their home countries and expected to seek asylum in the United States. On Monday, the Pentagon announced the deployment of 5,200 additionally troops to meet the caravan at the border.

I called up the military, they’re wasting their time,” he told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham in a pre-recorded interview that aired Monday, maintaining his unconfirmed claim that the group of immigrants coming included “many gang members.”

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As for what would happen to those immigrants applying for asylum, Trump said he plans to “build tent cities” and “hold” them there before their pending court dates rather than release them into the U.S.

“If they applied for asylum, we’re going to hold them until such time as their trial takes place,” Trump told Ingraham. “We’re going to put up, we’re going to build tent cities. We’re going to put tents up all over the place. We’re not going to build structures and spend all of this, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars — we’re going to have tents. … They’re going to be very nice.”