Calls to end birthright citizenship for children of illegal immigrants are gaining steam among the 2024 Republican presidential primary field, with now at least three hopefuls backing the controversial move.
Vivek Ramaswamy said this week that he supports ending birthright citizenship for children of illegal immigrants.
“I think for a period of time it’s going to be necessary in this country, because you have an influx of migrants across that southern border, fourteen thousand-plus a day by some estimates crossing that southern border. That is not a rule of law, that is the abandonment of the rule of law,” he said on CNN.
“So if migrants are coming illegally, intentionally to be able to establish an illegal toehold in the United States, then I think that’s something we should not abide in this country,” he said.
While birthright citizenship grants citizenship to the children of legal immigrants in the U.S., the debate has focused primarily on whether that should also apply to those who are in the country illegally.
The 14th Amendment states that “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.”
Critics of the move have said it would require a constitutional change.
“Our Founding Fathers decided that people born here were immediately citizens. Cracking open the Constitution to eliminate that right seems really idiotic,” Miami Mayor and GOP presidential candidate Francis Suarez, whose parents were both immigrants from Cuba, told the Daily Caller last month.
Those in support have argued that the amendment has been misinterpreted — pointing to the requirement that the persons must be “subject to the jurisdiction” of the U.S.
But as the U.S. continues to face a border crisis, which conservatives believe has been fueled by liberal immigration policies and other incentives — including birthright citizenship — the idea of limiting citizenship to children of citizens or legal residents has received a new impetus.
Former President Donald Trump, currently the front-runner in the primary race, said in May that he would sign an executive order “on day one” that will instruct federal agents that the “correct interpretation of the law” does not grant citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants, regardless of their birthplace.
“Joe Biden has launched an illegal foreign invasion of our country, allowing a record number of illegal aliens to storm across our borders,” Trump said in a video posted on Twitter. “Even though these millions of illegal border crossers have entered the country unlawfully, all of their future children will become automatic U.S. citizens. Can you imagine?
“They’ll be eligible for welfare, taxpayer-funded health care, the right to vote, chain migration and countless other government benefits, many of which will also profit the illegal alien parents. This policy is a reward for breaking the laws of the United States and is obviously a magnet, helping draw a flood of illegals across our borders.”
Trump first made the promise during his 2016 campaign and pledged to end it multiple times during his presidency, but it never happened.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who polls suggest is currently in second place in the GOP primary race, also backed the idea as he unveiled his border security plan last month in Eagle Pass, Texas.
“This idea that you can come across the border, two days later have a child, and somehow that’s an American citizen — that was not the original understanding of the 14th Amendment, and so we’ll take action to force a clarification of that,” he said last month.
“I think its wrong that people would use our country for things like birth tourism, so we’re going to be removing the incentives to come here illegally,” he said.
It is the latest sign of a drift to the right by the Republican field on immigration. Candidates have already rallied around the Trump-era “Remain-in-Mexico” policy, which kept migrants in Mexico for their hearings and was put on ice by the Biden administration.
Former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley has put out a muscular immigration policy that would see mandatory E-Verify and funding cut to states that hand out benefits to illegal immigrants.
Meanwhile, DeSantis has promised to shut down the southern border on day one and to “stop the invasion.”