This week, Donald Trump revealed during an interview on the premiere episode of Axios’ new show on HBO that he intends to end “birthright citizenship” through the use of an executive order, in an effort to curtail what he and other white nationalists say is an “epidemic” of children being born in America to non-citizen parents, then using the automatic citizenship conferred to them by the Constitution to assist others in obtaining entry to the country as well.
Some people — who we’ll describe here as “assholes” — call them “anchor babies.” But people using that term, say the more stringent nationalists like Trump, have limited imagination when it comes to interpretation of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution.
The relevant passage in Section 1 of that amendment reads:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”
Seems simple. But many racists have argued about the original intent of the author of the amendment, Senator Jacob Howard of Michigan, when he introduced it in 1866:
Neither the 14th Amendment nor the U.S. Constitution grants “birthright citizenship” to illegal aliens or foreigners. In fact, it prohibits it.
Take a look at what the author of the 14th Amendment had to say on this issue: pic.twitter.com/KPyVGtOP9f
— Ryan Fournier (@RyanAFournier) October 30, 2018
That seems to be the interpretation that Trump and his racist allies in the Republican Party are relying on to justify the effort to overturn the effects of the amendment. The flaw, of course, is that this interpretation requires the reader to group classes of aliens into two or three different characterizations: Foreigners, aliens, or those who are the children of foreign ambassadors or ministers. That’s like saying the amendment doesn’t apply to all foreigners, then specifying which foreigners it doesn’t apply to — a total contradiction in terms, like forbidding dairy in your home, then specifically forbidding ice cream. The ice cream is covered by the dairy, geniuses.
Regardless, we thought the Republicans in Congress who would be deported under Trump’s new rules would like a heads up before ICE snatches them away from their workplace in a plainclothes, no-knock raid.
First of all, Trump himself would not be a citizen.
That’s right. Trump’s dad, Fred, was a citizen (albeit a horrible one) at the time Donnie was born, but Trump’s mother was not a citizen, and if the administration took the same hard approach that Jeff Sessions did even to legal asylum seekers with citizen relatives in the United States, Mary McLeod Trump may not have even had her bairn on US soil.
But Trump’s not alone — some pretty high-profile members of the GOP might get the boot as well.
Soon-to-be-former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley was born in the United States to two parents who were still here on visas at the time of her birth — gone.
Marco Rubio? Definitely gone. He was born to two Cuban parents, neither of whom was a citizen at the time of his birth. I wonder if Trump’s Executive Order would have Rubio’s run for the presidency stricken from the history books, since it would now be illegal for him to do so under the new plan?
There are plenty of Democrats who would be deported as well — in fact, Pew Research says that more than one in ten members of Congress are either the children of immigrants or immigrants themselves.
But perhaps just the selfishness of the President himself might temper the order he’s planning on: Four of his own children are the child of an immigrant who was not a citizen at the time of their birth, so with a zero-tolerance policy, Donald would be left only with the daughter he barely remembers even on her birthday, Tiffany.
[Editor’s note: The original version of this story erroneously included speculation about the citizenship of Michigan Republican Congressman Justin Amash.
DC Tribune was contacted by Rep. Amash’s chief of staff Poppy Nelson, who informed us that Rep. Amash’s parents were citizens at the time of his birth.
While we did not assert that the Congressman’s Palestinian father was not a citizen, we did speculate that he may not have been, and that Rep. Amash may have benefited from “birthright citizenship,” as so many great Americans have. We regret any confusion.
We have removed the relevant passage from our article, and thank Ms. Nelson for her correspondence.]
Featured image via screen capture