According to an Axios interview, President Trump plans to sign an executive order aimed at revoking the principle of birthright citizenship for all babies born on American soil.
Thanks to unique combination of chutzpah and chance, the president has delivered on a variety of promises, such as the move of the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and unprecedented victories in the Middle East, to incredible success. But to defy the explicit intentions of our Founding Fathers and the revolutionary philosophy of our nation's very creation would be unconscionable.
When the freedom fighters of what would become the United States revolted against the culture of staid, jus sanguinis of continental Europe, they enshrined the idea of self-determination. Explicitly, birthright citizenship was granted to all Americans with the Fourteenth Amendment, courtesy of precedent established by the Naturalization Act of 1790.
"An immigrant can live in France but not become a Frenchman," former President Ronald Reagan once said. "But anyone from any part of the world can come to America and become an American."
So can Trump actually end birthright citizenship?
"It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment," said Trump to Axios on the issue of removing birthright citizenship. "Guess what? You don't."
On some scores, Trump isn't wrong. Trump could sign an executive order. The American stance is unique on the matter. And yes, without borders, we're not a sovereign nation.
But that doesn't make this policy a good idea. The president and his executive branch would be well within their rights to suture off public welfare for unchecked aliens. But undoing a precedent both fundamental and innocuous to American identity is both reckless and frightful.
Trump's gambit flies in the face of practical political wisdom. Even with the migrant caravan from Honduras in the news, he'd be better off questioning the laws for how people apply for asylum at ports of entry or the rights and benefits granted to illegal migrants, not to those already born here.
This is not a hill to die on. Trump fights, and he has the electoral mandate to strengthen our borders and constitutionally limit the amount of legal immigration flowing into our country. But to upend a legal precedent centuries in the making is a bridge too far, one that Congress should rebel against, not just for political purposes, but for the sustained power of the Constitution and the people.