Trump intends to eliminate birthright citizenship; could the president amend the United States Constitution?
President Donald Trump highlighted his America First policy last week when he tweeted that birthright citizenship would be eliminated in one way or another. He argued that this is not subject to the 14th Amendment due to the phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof”, prompting a heated debate.
Liberals, such as political historian Allan Lichtman, view this as political manoeuvring ahead of the elections rather than a serious policy proposal, which raises concerns about the alleged immigrant threat. Lichtman asserts that the original proponents of the 14th amendment intended birthright citizenship to be nearly universal. It was granted, for instance, to the offspring of Chinese residents who themselves were ineligible for citizenship at the time.
Conservative attorneys, however, see a loophole, arguing that the 14th Amendment was intended to apply only to those who owed entire allegiance to the United States and were subject to its complete jurisdiction, specifically newly-freed slaves who were subject to no other foreign power. They want to remove any incentive for individuals to enter the US illegally and have children who would become citizens of the country.
Lichtman believes that the current anti-immigrant rhetoric is not new and that nationalism and dread of immigrants date back to the founding of the United States. To amend the 14th Amendment, the only alternative to a presidential order would be to amend the United States Constitution. This action would necessitate a supermajority, consisting of a two-thirds majority in Congress and a three-quarters majority in the states: this is why constitutional amendments are so uncommon.