The US President Donald Trump reaffirmed his support for the legally dubious theory that children of illegal immigrants should not automatically be granted American citizenship. In an attempt to secure the support of Republican Senators a week before the crucial mid-term elections, Trump told that he would issue an executive order on the matter – a unilateral decision without the approval of Congress, which would require a radically new interpretation of existing laws.
According to the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, which entered into force after the Civil War in the United States, which aimed to ensure full citizenship of black people, the citizenship is granted to “all people born or naturalized in the United States”.
Over the years, it has often been interpreted to provide citizenship to people born in the United States, whose parents are illegal immigrants.
Donald Trump, who turned rhetoric against illegal immigrants into a central element of his presidential mandate, for the first time opposed the granting of nationality at birth when he started his election campaign in 2015.
The conservative activists’ legal arguments for the exclusion of children from illegal immigrants are likely to be based on the 14th Amendment, stating that people born in the US are citizens if they are “under the jurisdiction” of the United States. Activists who want to curb immigration claim that illegal immigrants are not under the jurisdiction of the United States, and therefore their children born on US territory should not be US citizens.
Most legal experts, however, argue that the wording around the jurisdiction denies the right of citizenship only to people who do not obey US law, as children of foreign diplomats.
The Vice President Mike Pence said the plan might not be unconstitutional. He said in an interview that although “we all appreciate the 14th Amendment, the US Supreme Court did not make a full statement on the matter”.
“The US Supreme Court has never ruled whether the 14th Amendment refers specifically to people who are illegally in the country”, pointed out Mike Pence.