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FGCU Prof.: executive order on birthright citizenship would likely face litigation

Posted: 7:29 PM, Oct 30, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-30 19:29:33-04

As a large migrant caravan works its way through Mexico toward the United States, President Donald Trump told "Axios On HBO" that he's considering signing an executive order that could make a change to the 14th Amendment of the Constitution - which guarantees citizenship for children born on U.S. soil, regardless of their parents' citizenship status.

"We're the only country in the world where a person comes in, has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits," President Trump said on the HBO program. "It's ridiculous, and it has to end."

Yudy Barbera, chair of the Collier County Democrats, doesn't think the President has the power to change the birthright issue with a stroke of a pen.

"We're not a third-world country, where people just go and change the Constitution as they please," Barbera said. "That's why the United States has three branches of government."

But Pamella Seay, a professor with Florida Gulf Coast University's Division of Justice Studies, said that any executive order by President Trump could focus on defining language in the Constitution.

"According to the Fourteenth Amendment, a person born in the United States is a citizen of the United States - if they are subject to its jurisdiction," Seay said. "Explaining what that jurisdiction would be is the key."

The President said that White House attorneys are reviewing his proposal.

"Even though (the executive order) is a possibility, it's also very likely to be subject to a lot of litigation," Seay said.