Donald Trump’s tough stance on immigration was pushed even further on Monday night, when the president revealed his plans to terminate birthright citizenship.
In an interview with Axios on HBO, Trump said he hopes to sign an executive order that would end the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which gives right to citizenship for babies of non-citizens and unauthorized immigrants born on American soil.
“It’s in the process. It’ll happen with an executive order,” Trump said, surprised the Axios on HBO hosts knew about his plan. “I didn’t think anybody knew that but me. I thought I was the only one.”
“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump said, adding that White House lawyers were working on it. “You can definitely do it with an act of Congress but now they’re saying I can do it with just an executive order.”
Many countries, including Canada, grant birthright citizenship, though Trump told Axios on HBO that it was only a problem in the United States.
“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 for 85 years with all of those benefits,” Trump said. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”
News of Trump’s plan comes a week before the mid-term elections, where feelings about his polarizing immigration policy are expected to be a driving factor to the polls.
Immigration has been a major focus of controversy throughout Trump’s presidential campaign and presidency — from his promises to build a wall to his now-reversed zero-tolerance policy that separated migrant children from their families and held them at detainment centers at the U.S./Mexico border.
The president has also been escalating his threats about a migrant caravan of 4,000 Central Americans walking through Central America fleeing violence and grim living conditions in their home countries and expected to seek asylum in the United States. On Monday, the Pentagon announced the deployment of 5,200 additionally troops to meet the caravan at the border.
“I called up the military, they’re wasting their time,” he told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham in a pre-recorded interview that aired Monday, maintaining his unconfirmed claim that the group of immigrants coming included “many gang members.”
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As for what would happen to those immigrants applying for asylum, Trump said he plans to “build tent cities” and “hold” them there before their pending court dates rather than release them into the U.S.
“If they applied for asylum, we’re going to hold them until such time as their trial takes place,” Trump told Ingraham. “We’re going to put up, we’re going to build tent cities. We’re going to put tents up all over the place. We’re not going to build structures and spend all of this, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars — we’re going to have tents. … They’re going to be very nice.”
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