At a roundtable in West Virginia, which had been billed as a discussion on Republicans’ tax cuts, President Donald Trump went off-script and spoke on a variety of topics, including immigration. President Trump slammed birthright citizenship policy, whereby the children born to illegal aliens are automatically given American citizenship. These children are often dubbed “anchor babies” because they afford the possibility to their parents of eventual legal immigration to the U.S. 

“If you have a baby on our land, congratulations,” Trump said. “That baby is a United States citizen. We’re the only one. Now Mexico has very tough policies. They can do whatever they want, which is the way it should be. You’re violating something very sacred. You’re violating a border.”

Canada is the only other country among Western nations that gives birthright citizenship. This is not the case in Europe.

In the U.S., there are currently 4.7 million anchor babies in the U.S. who are under the age of 18. However, this does not include the millions more who are over the age of 18. According to the Pew organization, about 275,000 babies were born to illegal parents in 2014, or about 7 percent of the total 4 million births in the U.S. that year. Also according to Pew, there also were 725,000 children younger than 18 who were illegal immigrants themselves and lived with illegal immigrant parents. These totals do not count U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants who do not live with their parents. 

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that another 600,000 or more anchor babies born in the United States, thus putting them on track to surpass total annual American births by one million anchor babies per year if the U.S. birth rate does not increase. 

Birthright citizenship was established by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which was approved in 1868. However, the Supreme Court has never ruled whether children of illegal aliens must be automatically granted U.S. citizenship. A repeal or change in the amendment may be necessary.

In the past, some Democrats were opposed to birthright citizenship. For example, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), who served as Senate Majority leader, said in 1993 that “no sane country” would reward illegal aliens with U.S. citizenship for their children.

At the West Virginia roundtable, Trump blamed rising crime rates on illegal immigration. Trump said,  "We cannot let people enter our country. We have no idea who they are, what they do, where they came from," Trump said. He also lashed out about the caravan of immigrants currently traversing Mexico on their way to the U.S. border, which has been credited for his decision to deploy National Guard troops to southern border. Bringing up his widely quoted remarks from 2015 presidential campaign launch, when he called some Mexican immigrants "rapist," Trump said on Thursday that women are being "raped" like never before. 

"Remember my opening remarks at Trump Tower, when I opened," Trump said. "Everybody said 'oh, he was so tough.' And I used the word rape. And yesterday, it came out where this journey coming up — women are raped at levels that nobody's ever seen before. They don't want to mention that. So, we have to change our laws."

In January 2015, then-candidate Trump told interviewer Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press"  that he was opposed to birthright citizenship. During the interview, he said of illegal immigrants, "they have a baby, and all of a sudden nobody knows the baby's here."

West Virginia Roundtable - April 5, 2018



January 2015 Meet the Press interview:



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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