Into the already roiling Capitol Hill atmosphere comes another powder keg. The Hill, a Washington, D.C. news site, reported that President Trump is considering issuing an executive order that would end birthright citizenship. As a 2016 presidential candidate, Trump promised to prioritize birthright citizenship changes, but he has since waffled. Several bills under both Republican and Democratic administrations to restrictively recast birthright citizenship never generated enough support to get to the floor of Congress for a final vote.
Currently, children born in the United States to parents who are unlawfully present are given citizenship. For decades, critics have urged Congress to pass an amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act that would grant citizenship only to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent resident aliens or aliens performing active service in the U.S. Armed Forces. Those skeptics further argue that the “under the jurisdiction of” wording in the 14th Amendment excludes foreign nationals who are citizens of their native countries. Immigration expansionists refute the detractors’ claims and insist that the 14th Amendment protects birthright citizenship. To date, the expansionists have prevailed.
The Pew Research Center estimated that, according to recent data for a one-year period, about 250,000 babies were born to illegal immigrants. Birth tourism, a citizenship abuse that’s exploded and led to chain migration increases, has doubtlessly added to Pew’s total.
The Supreme Court has never been called on to issue a definitive “under the jurisdiction of” interpretation. If President Trump acts, the Biden administration would immediately challenge the order. But, good news for birthright citizenship detractors, a Biden intervention could ultimately involve the Supreme Court, an outcome which both sides should welcome. The contentious back and forth about who is citizen-eligible has lingered long enough.
Many Beltway insiders will point to a birthright citizenship Executive Order as more evidence that President Trump is doing his best to subvert the incoming administration, mostly through actions that may be cumbersome to undo. Among them: withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, securing oil drilling leases in Alaska, punishing China, thwarting plans former Vice President Biden might have to reestablish the Iran nuclear deal, reforming H-1B visa guidelines, filling vacancies on scientific panels, pushing to weaken environmental standards, nominating judges and rushing their confirmations through the Senate, and eliminating long-standing health care regulations.
Labeling President Trump “vindictive,” The Washington Post warned that the sitting president might use his considerable influence as the GOP’s titular head to push Republican legislators to “scuttle Biden’s priorities.” The Post, like virtually every mainstream media outlet, is encouraging Americans to move on and, in the spirit of unity, go forward.
Assume that the Post is correct, and that President Trump has a Mafia-like urge to get even with his Democratic rivals. Remember that the Post, exactly 19 minutes after President Trump’s inauguration, published a story titled “The Campaign to Impeach President Trump has Begun,” an effort that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reaffirmed countless times during the following four years. Fifty-three Democrats boycotted President Trump’s January 20 inauguration in 2017.
The unprecedented attempt to discredit President Trump began when the Obama administration, of which Biden was a prominent member, authorized campaign spying, and eventually included the baseless Russia investigation and a doomed-to-fail impeachment attempt. Between day one and today, President Trump has battled Democrats, many Republicans, the Department of Justice, the FBI, the media, academia, the judiciary, evangelicals and assorted other powerful deep-state, never-Trumpers. Given that duly-elected President Trump’s White House journey has been uphill all the way and without even a passing acknowledgement of his economic successes, vindication may be his appropriate, going-away sentiment.
With nearly two months remaining until Inauguration Day 2021, loose ends related to President Trump’s pending Executive Orders and his election lawsuits must be tied up before predictions about his legacy can be made. Using brutal invective, Pelosi says the president is a “psychopathic nut” and a nasty, horrible person. But, if his legal challenges fail, nearly 74 million Americans – more than 10 million voted for him than in 2016 – will remember President Trump as an unbending America-first advocate who went down swinging.
Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.