Understanding The 14th Amendment and What it Says About Birthright Citizenship

Tasneem Nora Khokhar, contributor

On Monday, President Trump announced to Axios on HBO that he would pursue an executive order to outlaw birthright citizenship just before the election.

“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment,” Trump stated. “Guess what? You don’t.”

To the average citizen, it is not as often quoted as the First Amendment or as contested as the Second Amendment, but the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution plays an imperative role in supporting the tightly-knit principles of American freedom and equality.

The issue is the interpretation of the 14th Amendment, which provides:

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.”

The 14th Amendment adopted in the Constitution after the Civil War in 1868 was crucial when abiding scars of divisiveness and polarization still plagued the nation of a post-slavery America where it still begs vexed racial and social questions.

With the upcoming midterm elections just around the corner, President Donald Trump claimed he was prepared to flout the Constitution and end birthright citizenship in the US as an immense effort to retrench illegal immigration.

But is it possible to end birthright citizenship with a swift executive order and the approval of Congress as he claims? The answer is no.

Presumably, President Trump is fully aware that an executive order will be challenged in court, and then taken to the Supreme Court and even an act of Congress would be litigated.

Several legal experts say it is highly unlikely he can end the practice with an executive order– as did Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

Among adults nationwide, 62% believed the law should stand, and 60% of Americans opposed changing the Constitution to repeal the birthright provision, according to a Pew Research Center survey from October 2015.

However, the issue itself isn’t quite as clear-cut as advocates for birthright citizenship maintain. The polls clearly are in a split where our congress it still at war between the Democrats, who support the amendment, and majority of the Republicans, who oppose it.

The issue is clear why Trump mentioned it during the GOP primaries and revived it just this week as our paramount midterm elections approaches.