President Trump plans to end the "ridiculous" policy that grants automatic citizenship rights of children born in the U.S. to illegal immigrants or non-citizens.
In an interview with Axios, Trump said he hopes to enact an executive order to revoke the practice of giving citizenship to what are known as "anchor babies."
"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. It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous. And it has to end," the president said.
The move would likely set off a court battle, as his "travel ban" barring immigrants from seven known terrorist hotbeds did when Trump issued an executive order. The 14th Amendment addresses the subject, saying: "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."
But some argue that the Amendment, written in 1868, does not apply.
John Eastman, a constitutional scholar and director of Chapman University's Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, told "Axios on HBO" that the Constitution has been misapplied over the past 40 or so years. He says the line "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" originally referred to people with full, political allegiance to the U.S. — green card holders and citizens.
And Trump, along with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, also asserted during the 2016 primaries that the phrase "subject to the jurisdiction" refers only to people with a legal right to be in the U.S.
But with the midterm elections exactly one week away, the news of ending anchor babies is intended to play to Trump's conservative base.
"It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don't," Trump told Axios, stating that he can end the policy by executive order. "You can definitely do it with an Act of Congress. But now they're saying I can do it just with an executive order."
Asked when he might make such a move, Trump said: "It's in the process. It'll happen ... with an executive order."
Anchor babies amount to hundreds of thousands of new citizens each year. "About 275,000 babies were born to unauthorized-immigrant parents in 2014, or about 7% of the 4 million births in the U.S. that year," according to Pew Research Center estimates based on government data.
Trump's move comes as thousands of Central Americans are marching toward the U.S.-Mexico border intent on crossing into the United States.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Sunday the U.S. military has already begun moving equipment to the southern border to thwart the caravan.
"The additional troops will provide logistical and other support to the Border Patrol, and will bolster the efforts of the approximately 2,000 National Guard forces already there," he said in Prague. "The new forces are expected to provide logistical assistance such as air support and equipment, including vehicles and tents."