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Five Things to Know About the 14th Amendment and Trump’s Plan to End Birthright Citizenship

On Tuesday, Axios dropped a bombshell: President Donald Trump is considering an executive order to end birthright citizenship, changing the way the 14th Amendment is applied in immigration law. The president has taken one side in a robust constitutional debate, and his move should encourage Congress and the Supreme Court to consider the issue.

Here are 5 things to know about the situation.

1. What Axios reported.

President Trump gave an interview to "Axios on HBO," a new four-part documentary series launching this coming Sunday. In that interview, Trump confirmed that an executive order to reverse birthright citizenship is in the works, Jonathan Swan and Stef W. Right reported.

"It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don't," the president 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."

Explaining birthright citizenship, Trump remarked, "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."

According to a 2009 Harvard paper, however, 30 out of 35 sovereign nations in the Americas have birthright citizenship, immediately extending citizenship to all people born in the country, even if their parents are illegal immigrants. It is important to note, however, that birthright citizenship is a New World philosophy — most countries outside the Western Hemisphere do not have birthright citizenship.

This seems to contradict the plain text of the first section of 14th Amendment:

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. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

These remarks set off a firestorm of controversy.

2. Responses.

Democrats criticized Trump immediately, but even Republicans attacked the idea.

"Mr. President, amending any part of the Constitution by Executive Order puts every part of the Constitution at risk of being amended by Executive Order," Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) tweeted. "Today it’s the 14th Amendment. Tomorrow it could be the 1st. It’s OUR Constitution not YOUR Constitution." He concluded with a hashtag "#ImpeachmentIsNotDead."