Ryan rejects Trump proposal to eliminate birthright citizenship

House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP can't excommunicate King and ignore Trump playing to white supremacy and racism House vote fails to quell storm surrounding Steve King House passes resolution condemning white nationalism MORE (R-Wis.) on Tuesday rejected President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about plans to build Trump Tower in Moscow during 2016 campaign: report DC train system losing 0k per day during government shutdown Senate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees MORE's stated push to eliminate birthright citizenship via executive order.

"Well, you obviously cannot do that. You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order," Ryan told Lexington, Ky., radio station WVLK. "We didn’t like it when Obama tried changing immigration laws via executive action, and obviously as conservatives, we believe in the Constitution."

Ryan, who is retiring at the end of his term, said an executive order would not adhere to the 14th Amendment, adding that he thinks there is a better way to address the country's "unchecked illegal immigration."

“I think the smarter, faster solution here is to crack down on illegal immigration and obliviously support doing that,” he said. "But I'm a believer in the Constitution, I believe in interpreting the Constitution as written, and that means you can't so something like this via executive order."

Ryan's comments follow hours after Trump said in a new interview with Axios that he plans to draft an executive order that would terminate birthright citizenship for children of noncitizens who are born in the United States.

Trump asserted that he does not believe he needs congressional approval to make the change, sparking bipartisan backlash.

“You can definitely do it with an act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order,” he said before stating incorrectly: "We're the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States ... with all of those benefits."

The United States and Canada are two of the only developed countries in the West to have birthright citizenship. Most Central and South American nations also have birthright citizenship.

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiOvernight Defense: Trump unveils new missile defense plan | Dems express alarm | Shutdown hits Day 27 | Trump cancels Pelosi foreign trip | Senators offer bill to prevent NATO withdrawal McConnell blocks bill to reopen most of government Overnight Health Care: Thousands more migrant children may have been separated | Senate rejects bill to permanently ban federal funds for abortion | Women's March to lobby for 'Medicare for All' MORE blasted the president's proposal, stating that Trump is trying to divert attention from other issues ahead of next week's midterm elections.

“The President does not have the power to erase parts of the Constitution, but he and the GOP Congress have spent two years trying to erase protections for people with pre-existing conditions," she said in a statement.

“Clearly, Republicans will do absolutely anything to divert attention away from their votes to take away Americans’ health care.”

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees IRS shutdown plan fails to quell worries Overnight Health Care: Dem chair plans hearing on Medicare for all | Senate GOP talks drug prices with Trump health chief | PhRMA CEO hopeful Trump reverses course on controversial pricing proposal MORE (R-Iowa) said Tuesday that he believes it would take a constitutional amendment to change birthright citizenship.

"I am not a lawyer but it seems to me it would take a constitutional amendment to change that as opposed to an executive order," Grassley told an Iowa CBS station.

—Updated at 2:48 p.m.