Pence: Trump citizenship plan may not conflict with Constitution

Vice President Pence said Tuesday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE's plan to sign an executive order aimed at ending the practice of birthright citizenship in the U.S. may not conflict directly with the Constitution.

The reported preparations for such an order would set up a new battle at the Supreme Court for Trump over the 14th Amendment, which states that all persons "born or naturalized in the United States" are "citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

"We all cherish the language of the 14th Amendment, but 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," Pence said during an interview with Politico.

"I think the president is looking at executive action," Pence added. "I know that the Congress has looked at legislative action to reconsider that, but our broad objective here is, we need to fix a broken immigration system."

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Trump said in an interview with Axios, a clip of which was released earlier Tuesday, that he has been discussing ending the practice of birthright citizenship in the U.S. and believed he might be able to do so through executive action. 

Many have said Trump cannot eliminate unrestricted birthright citizenship with an executive order. Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenate Judiciary Committee requests consultation with admin on refugee admissions Trump reignites court fight with Ninth Circuit pick Trump judicial picks face rare GOP opposition MORE (R-S.C.) announced later Tuesday that he plans to introduce legislation that would end birthright citizenship.

"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 said in a string of tweets

Critics of the president have cast the reported effort as racist and said it, like the rest of the Trump administration's tighter immigration agenda, would only harm vulnerable people seeking a better life.

Pence argued Tuesday that closing loopholes in immigration law will protect foreign nationals from being taken advantage of by human traffickers.

"We have a crisis on our southern border," Pence said. "And President Trump from our campaign in 2016 to everyday since, has been calling on the Congress and taking the action that's available to stem this tied of illegal immigration."

"[The administration wants] to look, in the broadest way possible ... at American law that may be used as a magnet to draw people into our country," he said. "Some of those loopholes are like catch and release. Some of those loopholes are in other categories."

"There are things that human traffickers actually use to entice vulnerable families to make the long and dangerous trip north up the peninsula, often at great risk to themselves, and frankly birth right citizenship is a part of that."