It’s no surprise that Donald Trump’s official immigration platform featured hardline stances like building a border wall (paid for by Mexico, of course) and cracking down on sanctuary cities. But Trump unveiled a new stance Sunday that is fast becoming the litmus test as to how far to the right Republicans will go to secure the anti-immigration extremes of their base.
For the first time, Trump formally advocated for the end of the birthright citizenship, the automatic grant of citizenship to children born within U.S. territory regardless of the legal status of their parents. In a position outline released Sunday, Trump called the policy — which is rooted in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution — “the biggest magnet for illegal immigration.” He also touted the proposed change during an appearance on Meet the Press.
The issue was already bubbling on the fringes of the 2016 GOP field. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) last week said that birthright citizenship needed to be “re-examined,” and the idea also came up during a 2011 GOP presidential primary debate.
Earlier this year, legislation that would have rolled back birthright citizenship put the GOP senators running for president on the spot. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Rand Paul (R-KY) all dodged the question as to whether they would support the proposed amendment to an anti-human trafficking bill, even as Paul supported a previous version of the proposal.
An irony of the shift toward ending birthright citizenship is that it is putting the spotlight on Republican presidential candidates who are the children of immigrants and may not have qualified for citizenship under heightened standards.