Opinion

CONTRERAS: The President Simply Doesn’t Have The Power To Amend Birthright Citizenship

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President Trump has declared that he is the “chosen one.” By God, we presume.

Almost in the same breath, he declared that he will end “birthright citizenship” by executive order, contradicting the first sentence of the 14th Amendment — one simple enough for a third-grader to understand:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to its jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.

The Supreme Court of the United States indirectly approved those words in 1898 in the Wong Kim Ark case. Let’s be clear: The court could not overturn the 14th Amendment — even it didn’t like it — because it cannot overturn a constitutional amendment in whole or in part as long as it was passed by Congress and the requisite number of states. A president might hate an amendment, but he can’t veto it any more than the court can.

Trump was born in New York, thus he is a citizen — even though his mother was not born in the U.S. and would not qualify to enter the U.S. under Trump’s proposed merit-based immigration system.

My American citizenship comes from my mother, who was born in California. My father was a Mexican citizen. I am also a Mexican citizen, because I was born in Mexico — not because my father was Mexican. Having dual citizenship gives me a unique view of the 14th Amendment that our president does not have.

Never mind that I have read it a thousand times and read every Supreme Court decision on the amendment. We can presume from the president’s statements that he has never read the 1873 Slaughter-House Cases, in which the court ruled that the law applies to all — not just to specific interests. It undermined arguments that the 14th Amendment was passed only to grant citizenship to slaves. The court wrote, “The letter and spirit of those articles must apply to all cases coming within their purview, whether the party concerned be of African descent or not.”

The 14th Amendment — to many historians, legal scholars and political scientists — is the greatest political achievement in history, ranking with Britain’s Magna Carta and our own Constitution.

It would take a massive national demand to change the amendment. The president enjoys no such national sentiment.

The 14th Amendment, with its guarantees of equal protection and due process, is sacred to many. It is the essence and soul of the United States of America. It cannot be tampered with, and it should not be destroyed.

Raoul Contreras is the author of “The Mexican Border: Immigration, War and a Trillion Dollars in Trade.” He formerly wrote for the New York Times’ New America News Service.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.