The U.S. president, in an interview with the Axios website, declared his intention to end the right to birthright citizenship. This would be nothing short of a revolution for America.
Donald Trump is getting ready for an assault on birthright citizenship, one of the foundations of American immigration policy.
In an interview with Axios, the U.S. president declared his intention to abolish the principle that a child born in the United States is automatically granted citizenship. “We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States … with all of those benefits. It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end. It’ll happen … with an executive order.”
Against the background of Trump’s stated intention to stop the flow of immigrants to the United States, the announcement is sure to trigger controversy throughout the country. It is, of course, clear that the right to citizenship through birth is one of the reasons why many foreign citizens, particularly those from Central and Latin America, decide to enter American territory. Once a child is born and becomes a U.S. citizen, it gives rise to a whole host of legal and political issues which significantly complicate the work of agencies responsible for expelling illegal immigrants. Trump has, for some time, been of the opinion that these processes need to be streamlined and made much faster, even if that means taking on the law. The president believes that he can dismantle this fundamental principle of U.S. law with a simple executive order. “It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump told Axios.
With the midterm elections around the corner, the president is holding a highly significant card. His grassroots supporters have always been in favor of stricter controls on immigration, and the WASP core of the Republican electorate is ready to give its full support to the decision.
The U.S. president, in an interview with the Axios website, declared his intention to end birthright citizenship. This would be nothing short of a revolution for the U.S.
For Trump this is clearly a fundamental issue to rally support. The approach of the so-called migrant caravan, the thousands of people from Honduras making their way toward the United States, also plays into his hands. The caravan represents a danger, in the president’s view, a concern he has voiced more than once. As well as threatening countries in Central America with cuts to aid if the caravan is not blocked, he is also planning to send troops to the Mexican border. In the president’s mind, absolute closure of the country to immigration is what “Fortress America” should look like. It is within this complex system of reform and security measures that we should view the issue of birthright citizenship.
However, the president may well have his work cut out for him. According to some experts, the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is an insurmountable barrier. Yet, Michael Anton, a former national security official, has said that “the entire case for birthright citizenship is based on a deliberate misreading of the 14th Amendment … [T]he amendment explicitly excludes from citizenship ‘persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, [or] who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers.’”* This is the basis on which the Donald is ready to strike.
It would also throw into disarray one of the arguments that Italy’s range of intellectuals and politicians have been using for years in support of applying the same principle. It is no secret that many people in the country, especially those on the liberal left, consider birthright citizenship a fundamental right that should also be applied in Italy. Similarly, there are many people that have always regarded the United States and the American dream as models to follow. Sadly for them, and in yet another twist of fate from the United States, something irreversible could take place. Instead of Italy applying the model, it could be the model itself that changes.
*Editor’s note: This quotation, accurately translated, could not be independently verified.
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