GOP Leaders Reject Trump’s Notion That He Can Eliminate Birthright Citizenship With Executive Order

Paul Ryan
Photo by Astrid Riecken/Getty Images

President Donald Trump revealed that he has plans to sign an executive order to end birthright citizenship in the United States for children of undocumented immigrants. But even some of his most staunch supporters in Congress are pushing back.

“Well obviously you can’t do that,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan on Kentucky radio station WVLK Tuesday.

“You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order,” he continued. “As a conservative, I’m a believer in following the plain text of the Constitution, and I think in this case the 14th Amendment is pretty clear, and that would involve a very, very lengthy constitutional process. But where we obviously totally agree with the president is getting at the root issue here, which is unchecked illegal immigration.”

But the president believes that he can change the birthright rule on his own. He revealed his aspiration for doing so in an interview with Axios HBO that slated to air Sunday.

“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump said. “You can definitely do it with an Act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”

But members of Congress are pushing back on that idea and are insisting that if Trump wants to change the interpretation of the 14th amendment, he needs to go through Congress. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) released this statement Tuesday in response to Trump:

“The United States Welcomes immigrants from all over the world who pursue the legal options available to them to seek permanent residence or citizenship in our country. Birthright citizenship for the children of permanent resident immigrants under the Fourteenth Amendment is settled law, as decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Wong Kim Ark. There is a debate among legal scholars about whether that right extends to the children on illegal immigrants. I will closely review President Trump’s executive order. As a general matter, this is an issue that Congress should take the lead to carefully consider and debate.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted Tuesday in support of the president but added that he would introduce legislation in the Senate, subtly rejecting Trump’s executive order idea.

Even the president seems to change his stance on his executive power. On Wednesday morning he tweeted birthright citizenship “will be ended one way or the other.”

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