Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Tuesday backed President Donald Trump’s vow to end birthright citizenship for babies born to noncitizen parents and said he’ll introduce legislation “along the same lines” as an executive order the president is considering.
“Finally, a president willing to take on this absurd policy of birthright citizenship,” Graham wrote in a tweet. “I’ve always supported comprehensive immigration reform — and at the same time — the elimination of birthright citizenship,” he added.
Trump, who has been intensifying his anti-immigration rhetoric as the midterm elections near, said in an interview with “Axios on HBO” taped Monday that he wanted to issue an executive order to end birthright citizenship for babies born in the U.S. regardless of their parents’ citizenship. He called birthright citizenship “ridiculous,” and said the system “has to end.”
Birthright citizenship is enshrined in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and has been affirmed by the Supreme Court. Changing it would almost certainly require a constitutional amendment, not an executive order or legislation, experts said.
But Trump claimed he has the power to do it.
“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” Trump said. “You can definitely do it with an act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”
Graham, who called for a constitutional amendment to end birthright citizenship in 2010, said Tuesday that the right “is a magnet for illegal immigration” and “needs to come to an end.”
“I plan to introduce legislation along the same lines as the proposed executive order from President,” Graham added.
Graham, a Trump rival for the GOP nomination in the 2016 election who emerged as one of the president’s strongest boosters during Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation, didn’t comment on Trump’s claim to be able to eliminate the right with executive authority. A spokesperson didn’t immediately answer HuffPost’s inquiry.
Bills related to birthright citizenship have been introduced in every Congress dating back to the 1990s. They’ve faced bipartisan opposition and have never gone anywhere.
Vice President Mike Pence also spoke on the subject Tuesday, appearing to foreshadow a court fight involving the 14th Amendment.
Americans “cherish the language of the 14th Amendment,” Pence told Politico Playbook, “but the Supreme Court of the United States has never ruled on whether or not the language of the 14th Amendment subject to the jurisdiction thereof applies specifically to people who are in the country illegally.”
Elise Foley and Igor Bobic contributed to this report.