In his most recent effort to quell his staunchly anti-immigrant, alt-right base before the November midterms, Donald Trump has announced that his latest effort will target birthright citizenship. The president’s most recent dog whistle made dubious assertions of his ability to put an end to the constitutional right guaranteed by the 14th amendment that provides children born in the United States automatic American citizenship.
In a recent interview, Trump vowed to end the right to citizenship for the children of non-citizens
Speaking about his efforts to eliminate the extension of citizenship to babies of non-citizens and those born on U.S. soil to unauthorized immigrants, Trump called birthright citizenship “ridiculous” and asserted that it “has to end.” The interview took place as part a new four-part documentary news series set to air on HBO this Sunday at 6:30 EST/PST.
In a clip from the “AXIOS on HBO” interview, Trump states: “It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment [in order to end birthright]. Guess what? You don’t…now they’re saying you can do it with an executive order”. He then went on to say that he has been discussing the possible policy change with council, stating that he is “in the process” and “it’ll happen”.
In the very same interview, Trump also erroneously stated that the US is “the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits.” In fact 30 countries of the 194 that make up the world grant automatic citizenship to children born on their country’s soil.
Within the anti-immigrant wing of the Republican party, the concept of “anchor babies” has long been a contentious subject.
Recently, Senator Lindsey Graham stated that the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of citizenship based on birth has long been a “magnet for illegal immigration” and “out of the mainstream of the developed world”. He went on to state that he would introduce legislation with the same goal as Trump’s recent statements.
Needless to say, an executive order aimed at ending jus soli— or birthright citizenship — would disproportionately affect Latinx communities, specifically Latinas who give birth to children in the US.
According to the Pew Research Center for Hispanic Trends, the majority (52%) of US-born Latinos are offspring of immigrants. Indeed, the term “anchor babies” (one of Trump’s favorite slurs) is pejorative to immigrants who are mothers, with the Oxford Dictionary defining it as a term used to “refer to a child born to a noncitizen mother in a country which has birthright citizenship, especially when viewed as providing an advantage to family members seeking to secure citizenship or legal residency”.
His recent statements have clearly hit a nerve with Latinas.
My citizenship just became an election issue.
I am not a pawn. I’m the proud daughter of immigrants who sacrificed everything for me.
And I’ll continue to defend them.
— Victoria Crouse (@VikkiCrouse) October 30, 2018
In response to the president’s latest statements, Latinas and those part of the Latinx community have taken to Twitter to slam his statements. Most of the comments and posts online have been supplemented with hashtags related the midterm elections and #ProtectImmigrants. In addition to all of this, the president’s statements have also been largely decried by legal scholars as unconstitutional.
Many Latinas online have also recognized his words as part of a racially-motivated stunt.
Earlier this week I presented to a group of students in Chile. We spoke about politics and how I'm the daughter of hard working immigrants. I was asked if I was afraid to be Latina during this Presidency….The world is watching. https://t.co/Kb6bv3DcsP #BirthrightCitizenship
— Farah Melendez (@farahsmelendez) October 30, 2018
Many Latinas online have recognized this news as the racially-motivated stunt that it is.
These most recent comments by Trump serve only to build on the narrative that Latinx immigrants are people to be feared, resented and hated. Recently, Trump signed an executive order sending 5,200 troops to the US-Mexico border in order to combat the caravan of immigrants from Central America. Trump characterized their attempt to emigrate to the US as an “invasion”.
Statements like these are all the motivation you need to make your voice heard and vote in the November midterms.