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Constitutional amendment cannot be a campaign issue

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Scott Shelton

Staff Writer

President Trump suggested he could get rid of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees birthright citizenship, by simply issuing an executive order. 

“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment,” Trump said in an interview with 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.”

This would clearly be a violation of the powers of the presidency and the United States Constitution. 

Any amendment to the Constitution requires the approval of two-thirds of Congress and it must be ratified by the states. If not, two-thirds of the state legislatures would need to have a constitutional convention, and three-fourths of them would need to ratify the amendment.

With the division in the United States today, especially the partisan divide in Congress, it is almost impossible to go down either of those paths. 

Trump says the United States is the only country in the world which uses this policy, but 30 countries, mostly in the Western Hemisphere, offer birthright citizenship. 

Birthright citizenship was established after the Civil War because states, particularly in the South, were denying citizenship to black people and other minorities. 

In 1898, United States v. Wong Kim Ark, which affirmed this idea, made its way to the Supreme Court. 

Wong Kim Ark was denied citizenship because of the Chinese Exclusion Act, despite being born in San Francisco. 

The justices held that the government could not deny citizenship to anybody born in the United States.

Opponents of birthright citizenship say the 14th Amendment does not protect children of illegal immigrants. 

However, the Supreme Court has set precedent on this, too. 

Last century, the state of Texas was withholding funds for school districts that had children of illegal aliens in their schools.

In Plyler v. Doe (1981), the Supreme Court ruled that illegal aliens and their children are people and are protected by the 14th Amendment. 

Fast forward to 2018, and politicians like Trump still use immigration to divide people. 

Trump has suggested border walls and stricter immigration policies, but eliminating an entire amendment by himself is one of his most asinine suggestions yet. 

The people around Trump likely know that overturning the 14th Amendment is not feasible, so why are they doing this? 

Trump said this a week before the midterm election. He’s trying to stir the pot for his base to get them out to vote. 

His entire candidacy has been about tapping into the fears and anxieties of his voters, and illegal immigration is one of the most disputed topics among voters. 

Trump suggesting he could overturn the 14th Amendment with an executive order should be an outrage. 

Even if it doesn’t have substance and the statement is just for an election, we should not tolerate the president lying to us and telling us he can overreach his presidential powers.

Birthright citizenship was an idea by our forefathers in response to racist policies, and for over a century, the Supreme Court has helped affirm this as the law of the land. 

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