President Donald Trump’s election campaign opened the door to false conspiracies about Kamala Harris’ U.S. citizenship, claiming her eligibility for vice president is “an open question.”
Trump in the past repeated baseless rumors that President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S., a conspiracy that later came to be called “birtherism.” Similar conspiracies have sprung up surrounding Harris since former Vice President Joe Biden selected her as his running mate Tuesday. Trump campaign spokeswoman Jenna Ellis played into those theories when asked about the issue Thursday.
“It’s an open question, and one I think Harris should answer so the American people know for sure she is eligible,” Trump campaign spokeswoman Jenna Ellis told ABC News.
Trump campaign’s Jenna Ellis tells me @KamalaHarris‘ eligibility is “an open question,” when asked about this retweet.
“It’s an open question, and one I think Harris should answer so the American people know for sure she is eligible.”
Harris was born in Oakland, California. https://t.co/eu8oi1ZpYy
— Will Steakin (@wsteaks) August 13, 2020
The citizenship claims against Harris differ from that of Obama, however, in that its advocates do not contest the fact that Harris was born in Oakland, California. Instead, they point out that neither of Harris’ parents are natural born U.S. citizens, and they contest the 122 years of constitutional precedence that says being born on American soil grants citizenship. (RELATED: FACT CHECK: Is Kamala Harris Not Eligible To Be President?)
Trump has been critical of birthright citizenship. It has been the policy of the U.S. government since the Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark in 1898. Most legal experts say the policy could not be changed without an act of Congress or amendment to the Constitution.
Trump said in August 2019 that he was considering an executive order to end birthright citizenship, though the order was never released and was unlikely to have an effect if it had been.
“We’re looking at that very seriously, birthright citizenship, where you have a baby on our land — you walk over the border and have a baby,” Trump told reporters at the time. “Congratulations, the baby is now a U.S. citizen. We’re looking at it very, very seriously. I don’t know how you found that out, but that’s very good. We are looking at birthright citizenship very seriously.”