Conway defends Trump birthright citizenship plan: Many scholars say 14th Amendment 'misinterpreted'

White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayObama, Bush among those paying tribute to Cokie Roberts: 'A trailblazing figure' Journalists, political heavyweights pay respects to Cokie Roberts: 'A pioneer for so many' Iran's supreme leader rules out talks with US at all levels MORE on Tuesday defended President TrumpDonald John TrumpJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency White House fires DHS general counsel: report Trump to cap California trip with visit to the border MORE’s proposed executive order banning birthright citizenship, saying she does not think children of immigrants in the country illegally are protected by the 14th Amendment and that the practice is uncommon in the developed world.

“Many other constitutional scholars say that the 14th Amendment has been misinterpreted or misused in this way,” Conway said in an appearance on Fox News on Tuesday.

“There’s no question that there have been news reports about for some birth tourism, where women pay a lot of money, maybe money that they really don’t have, to make sure that their children are born here. So the idea that this isn’t happening, the idea that this isn’t going on in the thousands, the idea that it’s not unique to the U.S. and to Canada in the developed world is just false.”


“Border security is national security and this president has talked about it for many years, it helped him get elected,” she added.

Conway offered no specific evidence for her claims surrounding “birth tourism.” Most countries in the Western Hemisphere, including Mexico and Canada, have some form of birthright citizenship. 

Trump first floated the executive order in an interview published by Axios on Tuesday. He was soon joined in support on Capitol Hill by some of his staunchest allies, including as Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump fires back at Graham over Iran criticism Overnight Defense: GOP wary of action on Iran | Pence says US 'locked and loaded' to defend allies | Iran's leader rules out talks with US Republicans wary of US action on Iran MORE (R-S.C.).

Graham said on Tuesday that he will introduce legislation “along the same lines as the proposed executive order.”

Critics of the plan say it would violate the 14th Amendment, which states “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.”

Opponents of birthright citizenship claim that “subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” means that only children of citizens should automatically get citizenship because their parents owe their allegiance to the U.S. while immigrant parents do not. 

While the Supreme Court has never ruled explicitly if the children of specifically undocumented immigrants are covered under the 14th Amendment’s protections, it wrote in 1898, “the Fourteenth Amendment affirms the ancient and fundamental rule of citizenship by birth within the territory, in the allegiance and protection of the country, including all children here born of resident aliens.”