Washington — President Donald Trump said he will seek to limit the right of citizenship for certain children born in the US in a new bid to dramatically reshape immigration policies that was likely to spark a congressional battle.
Seeking to shore up support for Republicans ahead of the congressional elections next week, Trump told the Axios news website he would try to end the right of citizenship for US-born children of noncitizens and illegal immigrants.
The president said in an interview published on Tuesday that he would make the move through an executive order but citizenship is granted to US-born children under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which cannot be changed by the president. That would require action by Congress and US states.
One member of Congress, Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham said he would move forward to introduce legislation “along the same lines” as Trump’s order.
At least since 2005, Republicans in the US Congress have regularly offered legislation ending birthright citizenship for children born in the US if their parents were in the US illegally. But the legislation has never advanced, even when the House of Representatives or Senate was under Republican control.
Neither Graham nor Trump gave any details about the latest plan, and the White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Vice-President Mike Pence said the plan may not be unconstitutional, telling Politico in an interview that while “we all cherish” the 14th amendment, the nation’s top court has not weighed in on the issue entirely.
“But the Supreme Court of the US has never ruled on whether or not the language of the 14th amendment, subject to the jurisdiction thereof, applies specifically to people who are in the country illegally,” Pence said.
The 14th Amendment allows for “all persons born or naturalised in the US, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the US and of the State wherein they reside.”
A legal challenge would prompt the nation’s courts to weigh in on what would be one of the most sweeping moves of the Trump administration.