Thousands of Nigerians and other immigrants who target being granted American citizenship through birth risk losing their citizenship as President Donald Trump disclosed plans to sign an executive order that would remove the right to citizenship for babies of non-citizens and unauthorised immigrants born on US soil.
Trump who rode to power on a hard stance on immigration said he had spoken to legal counsel about it and that the change is in the works.
According to the 14th Amendment of the US constitution, “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”.
“How ridiculous, 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. It’s ridiculous, and it has to end,” Trump said in the interview.
“You can definitely do it with an act of Congress. It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. You don’t. I can do it just with an executive order. It’s in the process, it’ll happen – with an executive order,” Trump said.
The latest proposal by Trump is expected to spark a fresh debate on the interpretation of 14th Amendment of the US constitution, amid pushback that the move would fly in the face of the constitution.
As it stands, children born to non-US citizens on American soil have the right to US citizenship in nearly all circumstances.
Trump has long-criticized so-called “anchor babies”, a phrase used to describe the practice in which undocumented immigrants are able to gain legal foothold in the country through their citizen children.
Chris Coons, a US senator, said Trump “was driving a false narrative on immigration” in many ways to stoke fear.
The 14th amendment allows for “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.”
In 1898, the US Supreme Court reaffirmed the right of citizenship to children born to legal permanent residents.
But conservatives say that right should not apply to everyone, including immigrants in the country illegally or those with temporary legal status.