U.S. President Donald Trump has decided he wants to end birthright citizenship for babies born to non-citizens and unauthorized immigrant parents in the country.
Trump announced his intention to take on the issue during an interview with “Axios on HBO,” which is scheduled to air over the weekend.
READ MORE: Trump wants to end birthright citizenship for U.S.-born babies of unauthorized immigrants
The president said he plans to do so with an executive order.
Here’s why that could be much more complicated than Trump has claimed.
Birthright citizenship is in the Constitution
Revoking birthright citizenship would spark a court fight over whether the president has the unilateral ability to change an amendment to the Constitution.
The 14th Amendment guarantees the right for all children born in the U.S.
Known as the citizenship clause, the amendment says: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”
WATCH: What is birth tourism and how birthright citizenship works in Canada
Can an executive order really change the Constitution?
Well, that’s what the court fight would be over — and experts say it could be a real challenge for Trump.
When Trump was asked about whether he thinks his order would withstand a legal challenge he said: “They’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”
The president said White House lawyers are reviewing his proposal. It’s unclear how quickly he would act on an executive order.
READ MORE: Conservatives want to end ‘birth tourism’ in Canada — but what exactly is the contested issue?
Many of those criticizing Trump’s plan cited a U.S. Supreme Court decision made in the 1898 case of United States v. Wong Kim Ark.
The case, as The Washington Post reports, argued that a child born to Chinese immigrants was a birthright citizen and was victorious.
One U.S. lawyer, Dan McLaughlin, noted that “there are grounds for debate” on theory and policy, but constitutional law itself is pretty solid and difficult to change.
“A proper originalist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, as presently written, guarantees American citizenship to those born within our borders, with only a few limited exceptions,” McLaughlin wrote in the National Review.
Another possibility would be for Congress to vote for the change, and Sen. Lindsay Graham has said he will bring the issue up.
Criticism of Trump’s plan
Trump’s plan to end birthright citizenship prompted outcry from several groups Tuesday, including the American Civil Liberties Union.
“The president cannot erase the Constitution with an executive order, and the 14th Amendment’s citizenship guarantee is clear,” ACLU representative Omar Jadwat wrote in a statement to CNN.
“This is a transparent and blatantly unconstitutional attempt to sow division and fan the flames of anti-immigrant hatred in the days ahead of the midterms.”
Another advocate at the Latino Victory Project, Cristóbal J. Alex, said: “This is Trump at his most vile and un-American.”
Others criticized the president for bringing up the issue a week before the midterm election, in an effort to divert attention away from other issues.
WATCH: Trump says he’s confident about upcoming U.S. midterms
“President Trump’s new claim he can unilaterally end the Constitution’s guarantee of citizenship shows Republicans’ spiralling desperation to distract from their assault on Medicare, Medicaid and people with pre-existing conditions,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.
Is the U.S. unique with birthright laws?
During the Axios interview, Trump incorrectly claimed that the U.S. is the only country in the world where all babies get birthright citizenship.
“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in, has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits,” Trump said.
Canada, among about 30 countries, has the same, nearly identical birthright laws as the U.S.
However, Australia and New Zealand and many European nations have changed their birthright citizenship laws, granting citizenship to babies only when at least one parent is a citizen or legal resident.
READ MORE: 450,000 immigrants a year? Canada could do it, report suggests
There has been a similar debate in Canada.
In August, the federal Conservative Party called for an end to birthright citizenship and particularly “birth tourism.”
So-called “birth tourism” is when pregnant, non-Canadian women fly to Canada in order to give birth and secure citizenship for their babies.
The Tories passed a non-binding resolution urging the government to action.
WATCH: Conservatives look to end birth tourism in Canada
In 2014, immigration officials urged the Harper government to change the country’s citizenship rules in order to target birth tourism. But no action was taken by that Conservative government.
According to Statistics Canada, 313 babies were born to non-Canadian mothers in 2016. That number has gone down significantly since 2012 when Statistics Canada reported that 699 babies were born to non-Canadian mothers.
— With files from Global News reporter Katie Dangerfield and The Associated Press
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