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By: Ken Levine
During an interview by Axios on October 29, 2018, President Trump declared that he was about to sign an executive order to abolish birthright citizenship in the United States. While the President insisted that birthright citizenship, a concept enshrined in the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, could be revoked via executive order, it is an understatement to say that the constitutionality of such an order would be dubious.
The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides, in part, that all individuals born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction of the laws of this country, are automatically U.S. citizens. Any amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires a 2/3rd majority in both houses of Congress or a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures.
Furthermore, the issue of birthright citizenship has already been comprehensively addressed in the 1898 U.S. Supreme Court case of U.S. vs. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649. The issue at hand in the case was whether a child born in the United States to Chinese citizens, who were temporarily residing in the U.S., was automatically a U.S. citizen by operation of law. In a 6 to 2 decision the Supreme Court determined that the 14th amendment, which was passed after the U.S. Civil War, guaranteed U.S. citizenship to all individuals born in the United States, no matter the citizenry of the child’s parents. The decision reiterated that the 14th amendment does however exclude birthright citizenship for the children of foreign diplomatic officers, which is the sole exception.
Eminent constitutional scholars around the U.S. have already weighed in on this issue and have spiritedly validated that the U.S. Constitution not only guarantees birthright citizenship, but that a unilateral Presidential Executive Order cannot amend the constitution. It is unclear at this time whether President Trump will actually move forward with this executive order.
For additional information related to this topic and for advice regarding how to navigate U.S. immigration laws you may contact Ken Levine of the law firm of Freeman, Mathis & Gary, LLP at (770-551-2700) or firstname.lastname@example.org.