In a controversial announcement just days before hard-fought midterm elections, U.S. President Donald Trump revealed in an interview that he plans to unilaterally end the practice of birthright citizenship.
Trump, speaking to an HBO public affairs show, said he would sign an executive order ending the right to citizenship for babies of non-citizens and unauthorized immigrants born on U.S. soil.
"We're 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 ... with all of those benefits," Trump claimed, inaccurately, in the interview, set to air on Sunday.
In fact, the Axios on HBO program pointed out, over 30 countries offer birthright citizenship.
"It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous. And it has to end," Trump continued.
Though Trump said that the executive order is “in the process” and will happen, the move is certain to face legal challenges.
Birthright citizenship springs from the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1868, and was meant to stymie efforts to deny citizenship to former slaves. Ending it would likely require another constitutional amendment, according to many scholars.
In the weeks leading up to U.S. congressional midterm elections, Trump has ramped up his anti-immigrant rhetoric, in a move most observers see as trying to excite his base to vote on Nov. 6.
Other commentators have linked his encouragement of violence and fear-mongering about a caravan of would-be immigrants in Central America to Saturday's mass shooting at a synagogue in Pennsylvania.
Before killing 11 Jewish worshippers, the alleged shooter complained online of refugee "invaders" coming to the U.S.