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On White House Lawn, Trump Again Floats Stripping Birthright Citizenship

The president wants to issue an executive order, but such a move is likely unconstitutional

President Donald Trump on the South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday talking to reporters.

President Donald Trump on the South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday talking to reporters. (Image: screenshot)

President Donald Trump told reporters Wednesday his administration is considering ending birthright citizenship, the third salvo against immigrants from the White House in the last 24 hours.

Trump's comments were delivered with their usual bombast and inaccuracy.

"We're looking at that very seriously, birthright citizenship, where you have a baby on our land, you walk over the border, have a baby—congratulations, the baby is now a U.S. citizen," the president said on the South Lawn of the White House before boarding Marine One to head to Kentucky. "It's frankly ridiculous."

Birthright citizenship is enshrined in the 14th Amendment, but that hasn't stopped Trump and his administration from exploring the possibility of stripping it from the children of non-citizens. Most notably, on October 30, 2018 the president told Axios reporter Jonathan Swan that the administration was considering overturning the right through executive order, a comment that drew furious backlash from across the political spectrum. 

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While the president backed away from the move last October, Wednesday's declaration may signal the administration is again looking into ways to use an executive order to supersede the Constitution. 

Such an order would likely face strong resistance from the courts. Even some of Trump's judicial nominees, like James Ho, the president's pick for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, would be inclined to rule against him, as CNN legal reporter Ariane de Vogue pointed out on Twitter.

Trump's suggestion that he would strip the right to birthright citizenship followed two other attacks on immigrants. On Tuesday, the White House announced it would not provide flu vaccinations for immigrants held in detention centers. Earlier on Wednesday, the administration unveiled a rule to allow it to hold detainees indefinitely. 

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