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Trump bashes Paul Ryan on birthright citizenship: Focus on holding the majority

 
Trump tweeted that Ryan should instead focus “on holding the Majority,” implicitly laying blame at the Speaker's feet if the GOP loses control of the House.
 
“Paul Ryan should be focusing on holding the Majority rather than giving his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about!” Trump tweeted.

 

The broadside comes one day after Ryan flatly denied that Trump could end birthright citizenship via executive order, which the president said during an interview with Axios is something he intends to do. 

“You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order,” Ryan said.
 
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Trump added that “our new Republican Majority will work on this,” seeming to suggest he would ask lawmakers to end the Constitution's guarantee of citizenship for anyone born in the U.S. in addition to or in place of an executive order. 
 
The testy exchange points to the underlying tensions between Trump and House Republicans as the GOP fights to hold on to its majority in the midterm elections on Tuesday.
 
Most handicappers think Democrats have a good chance of winning back the House majority, and Trump's remarks about birthright citizenship were widely seen as damaging to vulnerable Republicans struggling to hold on to suburban House districts. 
 
But Trump has decided to double down on his hard-line immigration stance in the final stretch before Election Day, a plan he hopes will fire up his core supporters and get them to the polls.
 
The president earlier Wednesday vowed to push forward with his pledge despite opposition from Ryan, GOP lawmakers and legal scholars. 
 
Trump tweeted that the practice “will be ended one way or the other” and said the issue would ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court. He said the 150-year-old right of noncitizen's children to be born in the U.S. as citizens “costs our Country billions of dollars and is very unfair to our citizens.”
 
Many Republican lawmakers have backed up Trump's dire warnings about a caravan of Central American migrants traveling toward the U.S. and endorsed his proposal to send 5,200 active-duty troops to the southern border to help stop it. 
 
But several GOP officials called the president's dramatic suggestion of ending birthright citizenship a bridge too far.
 
Legal experts have said limiting birthright citizenship via executive order to children of U.S. citizens and legal resident runs afoul of the 14th Amendment, which says “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.” 
 
Vulnerable Republicans have said it will hurt incumbents running in competitive districts with large immigrant populations. Ryan made his comments while campaigning in Kentucky for Rep. Andy BarrGarland (Andy) Hale BarrTrump calls out GOP lawmakers who lost in midterms The Hill's Morning Report — Split decision: Dems take House, GOP retains Senate majority CNN's Tapper on early midterm results: 'This is not a blue wave' MORE, an endangered Republican, as part of a final push to save the party's House majority. 
 
Trump and Ryan had largely made peace with one another following a rocky first year, in which they sparred over the Republican Party's failed push to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But tensions largely faded from public view after the passage of the GOP tax-cut law.
 
Ryan's comments about birthright citizenship are somewhat out of character for the outgoing Speaker, who has previously said he prefers to handle disagreements with Trump behind closed doors.
 
“It works better to have private conversations than public disputes,” Ryan told news outlets earlier this year. “I can say anything. We have very candid conversations.”