PHOENIX — Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, believes it is possible to craft a narrow bill to deal with birthright citizenship, but does not believe an executive order by the president would past muster with the courts.
In an interview Wednesday, Collins, a centrist, said that she isn't sure how willing the Senate will be to take up the issue after the midterm elections or in the next Congress come January. She pointed to abuses of the system, particularly by the Chinese sending women over to the U.S. to have babies, as something that could be on the negotiating table in legislation.
"There may be an opportunity to carefully craft some narrowly tailored legislation to get at the abuses that clearly are occurring," Collins said in an interview while in Arizona to campaign for Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz.
"I'm not certain what the appetite is in the Senate for dealing with this issue. I do know that there are some clear abuses," Collins said, referring to China. "That obviously is an abuse. But I am also cognizant of the fact that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution is pretty clear that if you are born in America, with some explicit exceptions, you are an American citizen."
"I am skeptical that the president would be able to change that through an executive order. I don't think he can," Collins said. "It would almost certainly be challenged in court, and I believe the courts would rule against the president as far as his ability to bring about that change through an executive order."
Collins' comments came a day after the president said in an interview that he could make changes to birthright citizenship through executive order. She said in Maine Tuesday that she "completely disagree[s]" with the president's assertion.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., one of the most ardent backers of ending birthright citizenship, said shortly after the president's remarks were revealed that he plans to introduce legislation backing the president's call.