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Pres­ident Donald Trump said in an interview that he has plans to remove the right of cit­i­zenship to babies born in the U.S. to non-cit­izens and illegal aliens on U.S. soil. Wiki­media Commons

Pres­ident Donald Trump sent the world of U.S. pol­itics swirling when he said he plans to end birthright cit­i­zenship with an exec­utive order in an interview last week. Trump said he plans to remove the right of cit­i­zenship to babies born in the U.S. to non-cit­izens and illegal aliens on U.S. soil.   

Dean of Social Sci­ences and Pro­fessor of History Paul Moreno gave some context to the issue. According to Moreno, “it’s beyond a doubt” that the framers and rat­i­fiers of the 14th Amendment “did not intend” to allow the children of any legal non-cit­izens to be given cit­i­zenship.

“I think that’s a wrong reading of the Con­sti­tution,” Moreno said. “Con­gress has never enacted a statute on the question, so that leaves admin­is­trative inter­pre­tation. That’s how this policy was made and how it can be unmade. If Trump is wrong, Con­gress can pass a statute coun­ter­manding his exec­utive order.”

Pro­fessor of Pol­itics and Director of American Studies Kevin Portteus com­mented on the original inter­pre­tation of the 14th Amendment.

“The purpose of the 14th Amendment was to guar­antee cit­i­zenship and its ben­efits to black Amer­icans, who might oth­erwise be stateless persons,” Portteus said in an email. “Its authors openly denied that it insti­tuted birthright cit­i­zenship in any form.”

Sophomore Alex Reid, a member of College Democrats, said the exec­utive order would be a sign of hypocrisy and that the the 14th Amendment acts as a safe­guard.

“I think that for a party that is very con­cerned with the over­reach of gov­ernment, it’s hyp­o­critical to be pushing for an exec­utive order to undo a con­sti­tu­tional amendment,” Reid said. “Aside from that, the 14th Amendment, and birthright cit­i­zenship in par­ticular, have been safe­guards against biases. It helps ensure that no one is denied cit­i­zenship because of their race, political views, or other cri­teria that have denied people entry into the country in the past.”

As to whether or not this would be an issue of gov­ernment over­reach, Portteus said that similar critics took issue with Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but added that this issue could be resolved in another way.

“In seri­ousness, it is unclear whether it would be over­reach,” Portteus wrote. “How do you correct a mis­in­ter­pre­tation of the Con­sti­tution that isn’t in statute law? Besides, an exec­utive order would almost cer­tainly trigger a lawsuit. Since birthright cit­i­zenship came to be our policy as a result of a faulty court decision, another court decision would be a good way to fix it.”

The court decision Portteus ref­er­enced was United States v. Wong Kim Ark which ruled in 1898 that the 14th Amendment includes the right of a child born in the country to be con­sidered a U.S. citizen.

Senior Christian Yiu said he dis­agrees with Trump, both in the method of han­dling the issue and the fun­da­mental prin­ciple behind it.

“The only proper way to address the birthright cit­i­zenship is through a con­sti­tu­tional amendment,” Yiu said. “I am a citizen from birth, since my parents are first gen­er­ation immi­grants. I don’t believe America should shut out people who want to pursue the oppor­tunity to live freely.”