Ryan rejects Trump proposal to eliminate birthright citizenship

House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHow this year’s freshmen can save the Congress — and themselves Democrat Katie Porter unseats GOP's Mimi Walters Amazon fleeced New York, Virginia with HQ2 picks MORE (R-Wis.) on Tuesday rejected President TrumpDonald John TrumpMia Love pulls ahead in Utah race as judge dismisses her lawsuit Trump administration denies exploring extradition of Erdoğan foe for Turkey Trump congratulates Kemp, says Abrams will have 'terrific political future' 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 PelosiDem women rally behind Pelosi How this year’s freshmen can save the Congress — and themselves Single-payer health care is better than ObamaCare 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 GrassleyOvernight Health Care — Presented by The Partnership for Safe Medicines — GOP lawmaker pushes back on Trump drug pricing plan | Pfizer to raise prices on 41 drugs next year | Grassley opts for Finance gavel McConnell: Criminal justice bill unlikely this year On The Money: Why the tax law failed to save the GOP majority | Grassley opts for Finance gavel, setting Graham up for Judiciary | Trump says China eager for trade deal | Facebook reeling after damning NYT report 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.