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Flake: Trump 'can't' and 'shouldn't' nix birthright citizenship

Flake: Trump 'can't' and 'shouldn't' nix birthright citizenship
© Greg Nash
 
"He can't do this, and he shouldn't do this," Flake, a frequent critic of the White House, said in a tweet that linked to a story about Trump's remarks.

Trump has sparked a national debate over birthright citizenship when he suggested during an interview, which aired Tuesday, that he could unilaterally change the Constitution.

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He said in the interview with Axios that he will sign an executive order intended to end the practice of birthright citizenship.

"It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don't," Trump said during an interview with Axios.

"You can definitely do it with an act of Congress. But now they're saying I can do it just with an executive order," the president added, 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."

Most countries in the Western Hemisphere, including Mexico and Canada, have some form of birthright citizenship. 

The talk of an executive order comes as Trump has focused on using hard-line immigration rhetoric to try to drive out his base to vote in next week's midterm election, where control of Congress hangs in the balance.

If he follows through with the executive order it would spark an intense court battle and pave the way for a showdown at the Supreme Court 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."

Though Trump was quickly backed up by Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamFeinstein to step down as top Democrat on Judiciary Committee Democrats face increasing pressure to back smaller COVID-19 stimulus Media and Hollywood should stop their marching-to-Georgia talk MORE (R-S.C.), who said he would introduce legislation to mirror an executive order, several Republican lawmakers said they did not believe Trump could amend the Constitution on his own.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOn The Money: Biden to nominate Yellen for Treasury secretary | 'COVID cliff' looms | Democrats face pressure to back smaller stimulus Loeffler to continue to self-isolate after conflicting COVID-19 test results Loeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection MORE (R-Iowa) told an Iowa CBS station that "it seems to me it would take a constitutional amendment to change that as opposed to an executive order."

"Birthright citizenship for the children of permanent resident immigrants under the 14th Amendment is settled law. ... There is a debate among legal scholars about whether that right extends to the children of illegal immigrants. I will closely review President Trump’s executive order. As a general matter, this is an issue that Congress should take the lead to carefully consider and debate," Grassley added in a statement.
 
GOP Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) told the Portland Press Herald that she believed an executive order would be challenged and blocked in court. And House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBottom line Democratic anger rises over Trump obstacles to Biden transition Feehery: A possible House Speaker conundrum for Democrats MORE (R-Wis.) dismissed the idea during a Kentucky radio interview.
 
"You obviously cannot do that. You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order," Ryan said.