Trump claims he can defy Constitution and end birthright citizenship

Trump plans on ending birthright citizenship 02:45

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump offered a dramatic, if legally dubious, promise in a new interview to unilaterally end birthright citizenship, ratcheting up his hardline immigration rhetoric with a week to go before critical midterm elections.

Trump’s vow to end the right to citizenship for the children of non-citizens and unauthorized immigrants born on US soil came in an interview with Axios released Tuesday. Such a step would be regarded as an affront to the US Constitution, which was amended 150 years ago to include the words: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.”
Trump did not say when he would sign the order, and some of his past promises to use executive action have gone unfulfilled. But whether the President follows through on his threat or not, the issue joins a string of actions intended to thrust the matter of immigration into the front of voters’ minds as they head to polls next week.
A day earlier, the President vowed in an interview on Fox News to construct tent cities to house migrants traveling through Mexico to the US southern border. His administration announced the deployment of 5,200 troops to protect the frontier as the “caravan” continues to advance — though it is still weeks, if not months, from reaching the US border. And the President has warned of an “invasion” of undocumented immigrants if the border isn’t sealed with a wall.
Still, the threat of ending birthright citizenship amounts to another escalation in Trump’s hardline approach to immigration, which has become his signature issue.
“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in, has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits,” Trump said in an interview for “Axios on HBO.”
Several other countries, including Canada, have a policy of birthright citizenship, according to an analysis by the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for reducing immigration.
“It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end,” he continued.
Already, even some of the President’s defenders downplayed the prospects of successfully ending birthright citizenship by executive order.
“Well, you obviously cannot do that. You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told a Kentucky radio station.
Ryan said it would involve a “very, very lengthy” constitutional process to change the 14th Amendment, which was adopted in 1868 to protect citizenship rights for freed slaves.
The step would immediately be challenged in court. Some of Trump’s previous immigration executive orders, including an attempt to bar entry to citizens from some Muslim-majority countries, came under legal scrutiny after a chaotic drafting process. At the same time, the President has derided his predecessor Barack Obama for taking executive actions to block some young undocumented immigrants from deportation, a step Trump said was a presidential overstep.
The American Civil Liberties Union slammed Trump’s proposal Tuesday morning.
“The President cannot erase the Constitution with an executive order, and the 14th Amendment’s citizenship guarantee is clear,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “This is a transparent and blatantly unconstitutional attempt to sow division and fan the flames of anti-immigrant hatred in the days ahead of the midterms.”
Cupp: Tweet is fear mongering at its most naked 01:16
Asked about Trump’s promise on Tuesday, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia, said the President has the “right to raise that debate” if he wants but “this notion that he can simply violate the Constitution by executive order, let’s face it, no serious legal scholar thinks that’s real.”
“This is simply an attempt for Donald Trump, who wants to do anything possible to bring back fears around immigration, to use that as a political tool in this last week before the election,” Warner said. “This is again, where a President’s words matter. The Constitution is quite clear that no one, including the President of the United States, is above the law.”
The White House did not provide additional details of the planned executive order on Tuesday morning.
“It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t,” he said, adding that he has run it by his counsel. “You can definitely do it with an act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order,” Trump said.
The President didn’t provide any details of his plan, but said that “it’s in the process. It’ll happen.

Ferguson activist believes her son was killed. Police say it was suicide

Ferguson activist Melissa McKinnies said her son was not suicidal and she believes he was killed.

(CNN)A Ferguson activist whose son was found dead near her home said she believes he was killed — even as police investigate the man’s death as a suicide.

Danye Jones

Danye Jones was found on Oct. 17 in a wooded area in St. Louis County, police said. His mother, Melissa McKinnies, said family members found him hanging by a bed sheet from a tree behind their home.
By the time police arrived at the scene, the victim was lying on the ground, St. Louis County Police spokesman Shawn McGuire said Thursday.
There were no signs of trauma or foul play, and detectives are investigating his death as a suicide after talking to several relatives and friends, he said.

Mother: ‘He would not do that’

Jones’ mother said her son was not suicidal and she believes he was killed. He was planning to start a real estate business, and had a lot to look forward to, McKinnies said at a news conference Thursday.
“He did not do that. He would not do that. A mother knows her son. A mother knows her child,” McKinnies said of the suicide reports. “He had a lot to live for.”
The sheets used in the hanging did not come from the family’s house and Jones was not capable of tying the kind of advanced knots on the sheet, she said. She said someone had made threats against her son, and he had a bruise on his face before his death. She did not elaborate on who threatened him or provide details on the bruise.
McKinnies told CNN affiliate KMOV that her family had received death threats via social media in the past two months, but she did not report them to the police.
“They watch my house and when my husband and my son would approach the car, they would drive off,” she said.
She said the threats were linked to her involvement in Ferguson protests. She declined to provide additional details on how she determined that or who was behind them.

Police are seeking more information

Authorities said the investigation will remain active.
“Until the medical examiner’s report is done, we will take information from anyone else who may know anything more about this case,” McGuire said.
A forensic pathologist has conducted a physical examination and an autopsy, and will release a final report. Toxicology results will take about six weeks, officials said.
McKinnies was a part of the protests against police shootings following the August 2014 killing of African-American teen Michael Brown in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson by white police officer Darren Wilson.
The shooting sparked months of protests that helped launch the Black Lives Matter movement.