Washington: US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said that he wants to end a constitutional right that automatically grants citizenship to any baby born in the United States. 

Trump, in an interview with “Axios on HBO,” said his goal is halting guaranteed citizenship for babies of noncitizens and unauthorized immigrants.

Trump said, “It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t. Well, you can definitely do it with an act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”

US citizenship through birth comes via the 14th Amendment, which was ratified after the Civil War to secure US citizenship for newly freed black slaves. It later was used to guarantee citizenship to all babies born on US soil after court challenges.

Trump's decision to bring an executive order to end the right to the US citizenship for children born in the US to non-citizens has invited widespread criticism, even from his own party.

"You cannot end the birthright citizenship with an executive order," said Congressman Paul Ryan, Speaker of the US House of Representatives.
"We didn't like it when (former President) Obama tried changing immigration laws via executive action, and obviously as conservatives, we believe in the Constitution," Ryan told a local radio station in Lexington, Kentucky.

"Birthright citizenship defines who we are as a nation and is a core part of our American heritage and history. Eliminating birthright citizenship would do nothing to solve our immigration issues," said Beth Werlin, executive director of the American Immigration Council.

"No president can change the Constitution with the stroke of a pen. The only way to eliminate birthright citizenship would be through a new Constitutional amendment," he said.

Another Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi slammed Trump for his move.

"President Trump's new claim he can unilaterally end the Constitution's guarantee of citizenship shows Republicans' spiraling desperation to distract from their assault on Medicare, Medicaid and people with pre-existing conditions," she said.
"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," Pelosi said.

With agency inputs