Experts: President Trump cannot eliminate the 14th Amendment by himself

The 14th Amendment. (ABC7)

President Donald Trump said he wants to eliminate birthright citizenship and believes he can solely change the law with an executive order.

The 14th Amendment was adopted 150 years ago. It states, in part, that anyone born on U.S. soil becomes a U.S. citizen. It was added in 1868 to grant citizenship to slaves following the Civil War.

There are no current actions being taken to remove birthright citizenship from the constitution but the president is looking into it.

"Well, you can definitely do it with an Act of Congress. But now they're saying I can do it just with an executive order. Now how ridiculous 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. It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous and it has to end,” Trump told Axios on HBO.

The United States Constitution is the law of the land and no one person can add or remove laws.

“Changing the underlying principles that this country was founded on, is not something to be taken lightly,” said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, a lawyer and policy analyst at the American Immigration Council.

The American Immigration Council is one of many organizations speaking out against the proposed plan to eliminate birthright citizenship.

“This isn’t Republican and Democrat, this isn’t liberal and conservative, this is mainstream versus fringe,” said Reichlin-Melnick.

Non-partisan Pew Research Center found that in 2014, 275,000 babies were born to undocumented immigrant parents. That is about 7 percent of U.S. births that year. Under the law, those children are citizens.

“I don’t think it’s right,” said Alain Luckx.

Luckx was born in Belgium and currently lives in Hollywood, Florida. He is working on becoming a U.S. citizen and is so far three years into the process. He said he agrees with Trump.

“I came in the front door not through the back door. There’s a legal way to do stuff too, you know?” said Luckx.

“Children shouldn’t be punished for what their parents did,” said Reichlin-Melnick.

While the law cannot be changed with a wave of the hand, there is a process to change or eliminate an amendment.

“The easiest way to do it, which is very difficult, is to get both houses of Congress to pass it by two-thirds majorities, and then it needs to be ratified by three-quarters of the states,” explained David Lublin, a government professor at American University.

“Something that’s as polarizing as this is not going to happen. Only Constitutional Amendments that have broad-based support make it into the document,” he said.

The Trump Administration has not taken action on the proposal. If it does, the American Immigration Council could take the issue to court.

“The idea that we should get rid of that with a wave of the hand, without going through proper process, just shows that we need to remain vigilant and we need to make sure that efforts to change the way this country operates should be done through normal procedures and not through executive order,” said Reichlin-Melnick.

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