The End of Birthright Citizenship?


Amajla Tricic, News Editor

President Donald Trump recently made headlines by stating he would end birthright citizenship, which grants anyone, including children of immigrants, a guaranteed right to citizenship in the United States.

This raises questions if an executive order can end the right to citizenship, which has been a precedent since the ratification of the 14th Amendment in 1868.

“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 for 85 years, with all of those benefits,” Trump told Axios in an Oct. 30 interview.

His comment has spread concerns that those who have already been granted birthright citizenship will be affected. However, Daniel Tagliarina, a professor of government at Utica College, explained it is “highly unlikely” any change will come from President Trump’s statement.

“The simple answer is, no, an executive order cannot change a part of the Constitution,” he said. “You would need a new amendment, or at the very least a Supreme Court cases reinterpreting what the language of the 14th Amendment means.”

Tagliarina added that the complicated answer is that the president can issue an executive order, but the process itself would be challenging.

“It would fall on someone to challenge the constitutionality of his decision, and for the courts to decide whether it is [unconstitutional] — and just about all legal scholars who have weighed in have stated that the president’s reading of the 14th Amendment, and what he would do by executive order, are unconstitutional,” Tagliarina said.

Trump’s intentions have caused confusion as to whether or not his comments were just part of a stunt prior to the midterm elections on Nov. 6.

“It would take a Constitutional amendment to do what he wants, and that is a slow, difficult, lengthy process,” Tagliarina said. “It might have been a stunt to drive up midterm votes for Republicans, but there is no way we could ever know that was his intent.”

When it comes to broader debates surrounding immigration in the U.S., students feel there has been more tension since the Trump administration took office.

Jasmine Yem, a freshman at UC, has felt the effects of the president’s stance on immigration. She explained that Trump’s views on immigration have made other people more unkind to immigrants.

“I feel like ever since Trump became president, people see immigration as such a bad thing,” Yem said. “It’s so sad how people say immigrants steal jobs and are just taking up space in this country.”

Yem believes that immigrants have “the best work ethic” and can be “more hardworking than born-and-raised Americans.”

“They have the biggest hearts and are so grateful,” Yem said. “If immigrants are so bad, stop eating our food, don’t go to our salons, find someone else to fix your leak on your roof. Go ahead and find a whole new staff to work in your factories.”

Jym Conlon, a senior at UC, said that President Trump has not only caused extreme tension, but a divide.

“He super-polarized America on everything,” Conlon said. “I think it has more to do with the whole election more so than just him because Hillary vs. Trump made it impossible to share any sort of views between the parties.

“It’s more important to belong to a political party than it is about fixing issues, and as a result of that, these conservatives think that every immigrant is illegal and forget that their grandparents floated over here with nothing as well.”