Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) says he'll follow President Donald Trump's lead calling for an end to "birthright" citizenship, and introduce legislation in the house to clarify both the Fourteenth Amendment and federal regulations which define the concept.
The Hill reports that Graham plans to introduce the bill in the Senate as soon as Congress returns from its October recess.
"Finally, a president willing to take on this absurd policy of birthright citizenship. I’ve always supported comprehensive immigration reform — and at the same time — the elimination of birthright citizenship," Graham explained on Twitter.
Finally, a president willing to take on this absurd policy of birthright citizenship. https://t.co/kCa0ko7P76— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 30, 2018
"I've always supported comprehensive immigration reform — and at the same time — the elimination of birthright citizenship," Graham added.
I’ve always supported comprehensive immigration reform – and at the same time – the elimination of birthright citizenship.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 30, 2018
“The United States is one of two developed countries in the world who grant citizenship based on location of birth,” he continued. “This policy is a magnet for illegal immigration, out of the mainstream of the developed world, and needs to come to an end.”
Graham's bill, he says, will take the same form as Trump's proposed executive order, ending a loophole that allows children born in the United States to non-citizen parents to claim automatic citizenship. The loophole has, the pair contend, led to increased illegal immigration and also "birthright tourism," which sees visitors come from countries like China and Russia for the express purpose of giving birth in the United States.
Graham's bill does face one significant hurdle: since it would likely alter the text of the Constitution, it could require two thirds majority in both houses of Congress to approve, as well as three-quarters of the states. But as with Trump's proposed executive order, Graham's bill would likely avoid making any major changes to the Constitution directly, but rather help better define the terms and conditions of obtaining "birthright" citizenship.
"It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don't," Trump told an interviewer on Monday. "You can definitely do it with an act of Congress. But now they're saying I can do it just with an executive order."
Regardless of how either effort is worded, both will likely face immediate litigation. As with former President Barack Obama's effort to redefine immigration law to include the children of illegal immigrants brought to the United States before they could legally object to their parents' actions — the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA act — changes to citizenship through executive order must pass Constitutional muster.
Vice President Mike Pence suggested at an event Tuesday that the Trump administration is prepared to defend the effort in the courts: "The Supreme Court of the United States has never ruled on whether or not the language of the 14th Amendment subject to the jurisdiction thereof applies specifically to people who are in the country illegally,”
Graham, of course, may be the ideal candidate to take on the issue in Congress, regardless of how the administration plans to proceed. A longtime proponent of comprehensive immigration reform, Graham would likely want to tie any effort to end birthright citizenship to major changes in immigration policy that could benefit illegal immigrants already living in-country, perhaps with a proposed "path to citizenship," or a long-term partial amnesty agreement.