WASHINGTON — President Trump went after House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) for saying that the president does not have the authority to end birthright citizenship with the stroke of a pen.
Trump told Axios in footage released from the news site’s new HBO series that he wants to use an executive order to deny citizenship to children of undocumented immigrants born in the United States. “It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” he said. “You can definitely do it with an Act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”
Ryan, who is retiring from Congress at the end of the year, told radio station WVLK in Kentucky on Tuesday that “you cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order.”
“Where we obviously totally agree with the president is getting at the root issue here, which is unchecked illegal immigration,” Ryan said. “We — House Republicans and this president — are in total agreement on the need to stop illegal immigration, to secure our border and fix our laws.”
But Trump tweeted today, “Paul Ryan should be focusing on holding the Majority rather than giving his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about! Our new Republican Majority will work on this, Closing the Immigration Loopholes and Securing our Border!”
Speaking with reporters outside the White House today, Trump said he’s not going to blame Ryan or “anybody” if the GOP loses control of the House on Tuesday.
“Birthright citizenship is a very, very important subject. In my opinion, it’s much less complex than people think. I think it says it very loud and clear in the Constitution that you don’t have to go through the process of whatever they’re talking about,” Trump said. “…You don’t need a Constitutional amendment for birthright citizenship. I believe that you can have a simple vote in Congress.”
“And it’ll ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court, I hope quickly. But certainly, if [Obama] can do DACA, we can do this by executive order,” he added. “With that being said, I think Congress will ultimately act. But I may very well do it by executive order.”
George Conway, the attorney husband of White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed Tuesday night co-authored with former acting solicitor general Neal Katyal that such an executive order would be unconstitutional.
“Sometimes the Constitution’s text is plain as day and bars what politicians seek to do,” they wrote. “That’s the case with President Trump’s proposal to end ‘birthright citizenship’ through an executive order. Such a move would be unconstitutional and would certainly be challenged. And the challengers would undoubtedly win.”
Kellyanne Conway, meanwhile, told Fox News on Tuesday night that “many other constitutional scholars have said that the 14th Amendment has been misinterpreted or misused.”