Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., plans to unveil legislation that would eliminate birthright citizenship, adding cover to President Trump, who faces backlash for saying he is planning to sign an executive order that would do the same.
In a tweet Tuesday, Graham praised the essence of Trump's idea, saying “finally” a president was willing to address “this absurd policy.”
“I’ve always supported comprehensive immigration reform – and at the same time – the elimination of birthright citizenship,” Graham tweeted.
I’ve always supported comprehensive immigration reform – and at the same time – the elimination of birthright citizenship.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) October 30, 2018
Trump's reference to an executive order has sparked a legal debate about whether the 14th Amendment of the Constitution protects birthright citizenship — most legal experts question whether Trump has the power to end it. “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside," the amendment states.
Echoing concerns raised by Trump, Graham argued that birthright citizenship is a “magnet for illegal immigration” and must stop, adding that he plans to “introduce legislation along the same lines as the proposed executive order."
A spokesperson for Graham did not have any additional details to share with the Washington Examiner, but noted that the legislation would have to be introduced after the 2018 midterm elections in November.
Trump revealed his intentions to sign an executive order in an interview with Axios that was recorded on Monday, where he argued he could end birthright citizenship unilaterally.
"It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don't," Trump said.
The claim has been challenged by experts and political figures, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who said that birthright citizenship “obviously” cannot be ended through an executive order.
"We didn’t like it when [former President Barack] Obama tried changing immigration laws via executive action, and obviously as conservatives we believe in the Constitution," Ryan said in a radio interview Tuesday. "I think in this case the 14th Amendment is pretty clear, and that would involve a very, very lengthy constitutional process. But where we obviously totally agree with the president is getting at the root issue here, which is unchecked illegal immigration."
Trump also elicited backlash from Democrats such as Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., who rebuked Trump and Graham.
“President Trump should take a high school government class before so confidently claiming he can eliminate the 14th Amendment though executive action,” Jayapal said in a statement Tuesday. “Constitutional scholars and even members of his own party agree — this simply isn’t possible.”
“To Senator Lindsey Graham and anyone looking to encroach on basic citizenship rights legislatively: we will fight tooth and nail against any kind of regressive action, in the streets, in Congress and beyond,” Jayapal said.
The American Civil Liberties Union also characterized such a move as “unconstitutional” and was a display to motivate “anti-immigrant hatred” leading up to the midterm elections next month.