Earlier this week, President Donald Trump drew inflammatory headlines from the mainstream media over his declaration to end birthright citizenship — the idea that any child born on American soil is automatically a United States citizen, even if the mother is an illegal immigrant – possibly by bypassing Congress and signing an executive order.
"It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment," Trump told Axios. "Guess what? You don't."
"You can definitely do it with an act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order," he continued. "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."
While it's clear the media are no fans of ending birthright citizenship, as screeching headlines from leftist journalists suddenly taken with the Constitution suggest, how do the American people feel about it?
While recently polling on the issue is sparse, C-SPAN's Washington Journal, which is not exactly a right-wing outlet, put out a Twitter poll on Wednesday.
"Should U.S. End Birthright Citizenship?" asked the straightforward poll. Over 9,000 Twitter users responded.
The final results showed resounding agreement with the president that birthright citizenship should end. A total of 6,683 participants, or 72%, answered "yes"; and 2,6000 participants, or 28%, responded "no."
The Twitter poll is seemingly the most recently polling regarding the issue.
In 2010, A CBS News poll found Americans to be basically split on the issue of ridding birthright citizenship. "The American public is almost evenly divided as to whether current law should be changed so that children of illegal immigrants born in the United States do not automatically become citizens, a new CBS News poll finds. Forty-nine percent say the law should be kept as is, while 47 percent say it should be changed," reported CBC.
In 2015, the Pew Research Center found a wider partisan split on the issue, though the question to polled participants was framed to suggest the Constitution would have to be changed to put an end to birthright citizenship, which is highly debatable.
The poll found that "most Americans (60%) oppose the idea of changing the U.S. Constitution to prohibit children of those who are not legal residents from becoming citizens; 37% favor changing the Constitution to end 'birthright citizenship.' ... Again, Republicans and Democrats are far apart on this issue: By 75% to 23%, Democrats oppose changing the Constitution to ban birthright citizenship. Republicans are evenly divided: About half (53%) favor amending the Constitution, while 44% are opposed."
According to CBS News, annual births to illegal immigrants peaked in 2007, with approximately 390,000 births — a stunningly high number. Still shockingly high, the number has since dropped to 250,000 in 2016, the lowest number since the year 2000, according to a Pew Research Center report published Thursday.
The CBS report noted, "Children born to undocumented immigrants accounted for 6 percent of the 4 million births in the U.S. in 2016, the Pew Research Center estimated, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau. In total, about 5 million U.S.-born children under age 18 were living with at least one unauthorized immigrant parent, Pew said."
But even if the American people are on board with ending the policy, can it be done through executive order like Trump has suggested? Possibly, though it would most certainly be challenged.
Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro on Tuesday explained:
The Court has never fully decided on whether the 14th Amendment protects the children of illegal immigrants – people who are clearly subject to the jurisdiction of foreign countries. Illegal immigrants have a right under the Vienna Convention to consular contact if they arrested for a crime, for example. It seems highly unlikely that the framers of the 14th Amendment meant to include the children of illegal immigrants. But the Supreme Court has also been warmer toward birthright citizenship to children of illegal immigrants than the text would warrant.
Presumably, Trump knows that an executive order will immediately be challenged in court, and then taken to the Supreme Court. That’s his goal. So no, an executive order won’t immediately take effect, and even an act of Congress would be litigated.
Shapiro noted, "The issue itself isn’t quite as clear-cut as advocates for birthright citizenship maintain."