President Donald Trump attacked Speaker of the House Paul Ryan on Wednesday, six days before elections that will determine control of Congress, for criticizing his proposal to prohibit babies born to unauthorized immigrants from obtaining automatic U.S. citizenship.
“Paul Ryan should be focusing on holding the Majority rather than giving his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about! Our new Republican Majority will work on this, Closing the Immigration Loopholes and Securing our Border!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Trump said in an interview with “Axios on HBO” to be broadcast Sunday that he planned to issue an executive order prohibiting “birthright citizenship” for children of non-citizens and undocumented immigrants. Axios released a clip of the interview on Tuesday.
The Constitution’s 14th amendment guarantees citizenship to anyone born in the U.S. Ryan, who is retiring from Congress, later criticized the idea of changing the law by executive order.
“You obviously cannot do that,” Ryan told WVLK in Lexington, Kentucky, on Monday. “I’m a believer in following the plain text of the Constitution and I think in this case the 14th Amendment is pretty clear, and that would involve a very, very lengthy constitutional process.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Trump claimed that a clause in the 14th amendment that conveys citizenship only to people “subject to the jurisdiction” of the U.S. excludes children of undocumented immigrants. Legal scholars on both the right and left disagree with him and say that the matter is settled law.
Trump has sought to escalate immigration as an issue ahead of midterm elections on Tuesday, and his political opponents say his proposal to end birthright citizenship is part of a strategy to energize his supporters before the vote.
Ryan’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
After attacking Ryan, Trump tweeted a 1993 video clip of former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, proposing to end birthright citizenship. Reid called it “a reward for being an illegal immigrant.”
Reid later called the legislation he introduced to end birthright citizenship “the biggest mistake I ever made.” Reid retired from Congress in 2017.
(c) 2018, Bloomberg · Alex Wayne