The Trump Effect: GOP Field Hardens Line On Birthright Citizenship

Derek Hunter Contributor
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Republican front-runner Donald Trump has forced the rest of the GOP field to toughen their stances on birthright citizenship.

Speaking with reporters in Iowa, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker followed Trump’s lead in calling for an end to the policy that grants citizenship to those born in the U.S.

Walker was, until earlier this year, a supporter of amnesty. He publicly admitted he changed his mind to openly oppose amnesty before Trump entered the race or even raised the issue. But he had been silent on the issue of birthright citizenship, until now.

When asked if it should be ended, Walker responded, “I think that’s something we should — yeah, absolutely, going forward.”

Kirsten Kukowski, Walker’s communications director, expanded on his comments, telling the Washington Post, “We have to enforce the laws, keep people from coming here illegally, enforce e-verify to stop the jobs magnet and by addressing the root problems we will end the birthright citizenship problem.”

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a past proponent of a pathway to citizenship and who famously called entering the country illegally “an act of love,” is now talking enforcement, but not birthright citizenship.

Speaking at an event in South Carolina this week, Bush said, “We’ve got to control the border, we’ve got to enforce the rule of law, we’ve got to deal with extended stays on legal visas, we’ve got to have an e-Verify system that’s verifiable, we’ve got to deal with sanctuary cities, we’ve got to forward-lean on the border. There’s practical things that we can do to reduce the flow of illegal immigrants, which clearly is important to do.”

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal came out in favor of ending birthright citizenship as well.

“We need to end birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants,” Jindal tweeted.

On the 14th Amendment, where the concept of birthright citizenship comes from, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said, “I think all this stuff needs to be re-examined in light of the current circumstances. (Birthright citizenship) may have made sense at some point in our history, but right now, we need to re-look at all that.”

Unlike his competitors, Christie broached the subject before Trump released his immigration plan.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, however, bucks the trend.

Kasich, who was a proponent of ending birthright citizenship when he was on Congress, has changed his mind on the concept.

Speaking with CNN on August 12, Kasich renounced his former position. “When I think about it, I don’t believe it should be a fundamental part of this whole thing because I think it remains dividing to people, to be honest with you,” Kasich said. “I think we need to get over that. I’m not for it anymore. Let these people who are born here be citizens and that’s the end of it. I don’t want to dwell on it.”

As for the GOP senators in the race — Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz — they remain nebulous on the concept of birthright citizenship.

Earlier this year the Congress passed the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act by a vote of 99-0. Louisiana Sen. David Vitter attempted to offer an amendment to end birthright citizenship, but it was not brought up for a vote. None of the GOP senators seeking the party’s nomination spoke out in favor or opposition to the amendment.