Senate Legislation Planned to Alter Birthright Citizenship Following Trump Announcement

October 30, 2018 Updated: December 29, 2018

Legislation will be introduced in the U.S. Senate to alter birthright citizenship, a top Republican Senator said after President Donald Trump announced a planned executive order along the same lines.

Trump said in an interview released on Oct. 30, that he plans to sign an executive order that would remove birthright citizenship for babies born on American soil to mothers who are not citizens of the United States.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) responded to the announcement, saying he plans to take action in the Senate.

“I plan to introduce legislation along the same lines as the proposed executive order from President Donald Trump,” Graham said on Twitter.

Graham Targets Amendment

Birthright citizenship for every child born to illegal immigrants is currently granted, through an interpretation of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states: “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.”

Legal scholars are divided on whether the amendment can be interpreted differently, but Graham has said for years that it can be, including in a 2010 interview with Fox News.

“The 14th Amendment was passed in 1866 to prevent states from disenfranchising the freed slaves. The amendment says if you’re a naturally born person under the jurisdiction of laws of the United States, you’re automatically a citizen. That protected the free slaves,” Graham said.

“Fast forward 160 years, we’ve got people selling trips across the border, they’ll sneak you into America, go into an American hospital, so you can have your baby here and that baby becomes an American citizen. That incentivizes illegal immigration.”

Graham noted that birthright citizenship is taken advantage of by not only illegal immigrants from Central America but also a number of people from Russia, the Middle East, and other areas, who visit the United States while pregnant just to get citizenship for their baby.

“People shouldn’t be rewarded when they break the law,” he added.

On Oct. 30, he added: “The United States is one of two developed countries in the world who grant citizenship based on location of birth. This policy is a magnet for illegal immigration, out of the mainstream of the developed world, and needs to come to an end.”

Congress is currently out of session but will reconvene on Nov. 13, after the midterm elections. Amendments to the Constitution require two-thirds of Congress voting to support them as well as ratification of three-quarters of states.


Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber