Win McNamee / Getty Images
Updated at 17:35 ET
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, on Tuesday, rejected President Trump's statement that he could remove US citizenship by executive order because such a move was "unconstitutional."
"Of course you can not," said Ryan to the radio station WVLK in Kentucky. "You can not end your citizenship with an executive order."
Ryan noted that changes to a constitutional amendment required an act of Congress, adding, "We did not like it when Obama tried to change the immigration laws through executive action, and obviously as conservatives we believe in the Constitution. I believe that following the text of the Constitution, and I think that in this case the 14th Amendment is pretty clear, and that would require a very, very long constitutional process. "
Trump announced his plan to bypass Congress to revoke the 150-year old birth law in an interview with Axios on HBO this is planned to fly on Sunday.
"I've always been told you needed a constitutional amendment, do not guess what, you do not," said Trump.
The potential move, which would most likely trigger numerous legal challenges, would attempt to end the granting of citizenship to all US-born children – currently guaranteed by the 14th Amendment – including children of noncitizen parents.
The first sentence of the amendment reads as follows: "All persons born or ordinated in the United States and subject to their jurisdiction are citizens of the United States and of the state in which they reside."
The concept is based on jus soli – "Right to the ground" – meaning that children born in the US are entitled to citizenship, even if their parents have no legal documents to be in the country.
Kevin Coombs / Reuters
Trump mentioned the idea of canceling the amendment in advance, especially in August 2015, when the problem of first birth became part of his stubborn immigration policy as a presidential candidate. Now, Trump is discussing citizenship law about a week before US voters will go to polls for the 2018 Interim election.
In addition to guaranteeing birth status in the United States, the 14th Amendment prohibits states from denying essential rights without proper conduct. As the Library of Congress notes, the amendment has "significantly extended the protection of civil rights for all Americans and is cited in more litigation than any other amendment".
The final section of the amendment states that Congress, not the President, has the power "to enforce the provisions of this article through legislation".
The 14th Amendment became law in 1868, as a supreme court ruling Dred Scott Decision that stated that freed slaves were not US citizens. Since then, its importance and reach has been debated in courtrooms and in American society, with many questions directed to the term "jurisdiction."
"This means that they are subject to the laws of the United States, for example, that they may be prosecuted for violating US law," said Suzanna Sherry, a professor of constitutional law, NPR in 2015. The bill closes z foreign diplomats.
In the 1860s, it was intended to grant citizenship to freed slaves as well as to give immigrants rest.
As Sherry, who teaches at Vanderbilt University, NPR 2015 said: "The United States had experienced quite a bit of immigration, and immigration was considered a very good thing, and this was basically a welcome reward for immigrants that their native-born Children would be citizens. "
To change the law, Sherry said, you would either have to change Congress's 14th amendment or ask the Supreme Court to revoke its earlier interpretation of the law and limit its use to those who live legally in the United States.
While many legal scholars agree, the president says he has the power to act alone.
"You can definitely do it with an act of Congress," Trump said in the Axios on HBO Interview. "But now they say that I can only do it with an executive order."
He added, "We are the only country in the world where a person comes in, has a baby, and the baby has been a citizen of the United States for 85 years, with all these benefits, it's ridiculous, it's ridiculous, and it must stop. "
Citizenship is the law of at least 30 countries, including many US neighbors in North and South America. All countries in Europe grant automatic citizenship Jus Sanguinis – by "right to blood". Some, like France, are also offering children of immigrants the way to acquire citizenship at the age of 18.
The president said he had talked to the White House lawyer about the problem of first birth. When he could act, Trump said, "It's in the process. It's going to happen – with an executive order."
In response to the president's words, Mark Krikorian, the director of the Immigration Studies Center, said, "This will prepare the court battle."
The CIS identifies itself as a bipartisan think tank, but it has consistently called for a tougher US immigration policy, and the Southern Poverty Law Center has declared it a hate group.
If Trump goes ahead with his plan, Krikorian said via Twitter"The order will be imposed, the case will eventually reach SCOTUS, who then finally has to decide on the meaning of, subject to jurisdiction."
Citizenship critics have said that pregnant women who want to emigrate travel to the US to get their children, hoping to get citizenship for their children and pave their own way to becoming US citizens. But immigration advocates say these concerns are exaggerated – part of a campaign to ruffle voters in a election season.
Although it is difficult to determine the exact number of children whose parents live illegally in the US, the Pew Research Center reported that in 2014, 3.2 million children – nearly 6 percent of all K-12 students in the US – at least one unauthorized immigrant had parents and were citizens because they were born in the US
If Trump somehow reversed part of the 14th Amendment, the political shift would not reduce the number of undocumented immigrants in the US, according to the Institute for Migration Policy. In fact, it could do just the opposite: when the group launched a 2015 study into the implications of a possible cancellation of nationality in 2015, it was determined that within just a few decades, such a change would lead millions of people to America's undocumented population a new subclass ,
And besides, Michael Fix, MPI, wrote when this study was published: "Citizenship is not what drives illegal immigration Surveys have shown that people come for work and improve their lives."
Krikorian of the CIS said that an executive order on the topic "long overdue" was. But Trump's idea of revoking citizen citizenship is "outdated" and misguided, says Kristen Clarke, executive director of the Citizens' Rights Credentials Committee.
"In addition to being unconstitutional, such an executive would exacerbate racial tensions, exploit fears, and promote further polarization across the country at a moment that calls for the promotion of unity and integration," Clarke said.
Jess Morales Rocketto, whose families belong together, has fought group Trump's administration of family separation policies along the US-Mexico border, was more blunt.
"This is ethnic cleansing," said Rocketto. "This is an attempt to cloak America's history and heritage as a nation of immigrants, and it's unconstitutional."