Trump Fights Birthright Citizenship while Supreme Court Refuses to Stop Trial Against Citizenship Question on US Census
Shortly before the 2018 midterm elections and in an apparent effort to stir up his base, President Trump declared that he can unilaterally end birthright citizenship as established by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court recently declined an invitation by the government to end a case filed by state and local governments claiming the Trump administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census is unconstitutionally racially motivated. That trial began on November 5. Read on for details about these pending issues, and contact a skilled immigration attorney with any questions.
Trump Cannot End Birthright Citizenship With an Executive Order
President Trump recently claimed that he can alter the long-standing interpretation, and plain meaning, of the Fourteenth Amendment, which grants citizenship to any person born on U.S. soil. Legal scholars agree that the Supreme Court decided the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment more than 100 years ago and that getting rid of birthright citizenship would require a constitutional amendment, a process much more involved than signing an executive order.
Even Paul Ryan, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, does not believe the President can unilaterally change the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. He recently stated that “you cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order” and that the “plain text” of “the 14th Amendment is pretty clear,” and altering it would involve a “very lengthy constitutional process.”
Trial Begins in Case Against Citizenship Question on Census
The Commerce Department, against the recommendations of the Census Bureau, decided this March to add a question to the 2020 census that was cut from the questionnaire back in 1950: U.S. citizenship status. Over 25 state and city governments, along with other civil rights organizations, have filed six lawsuits around the country intending to stop the administration from adding this question to the census. The parties fighting against the question contend that the decision to add the question is racially motivated, poised to frighten immigrant communities away from responding to the census in order to skew the results. Census results are used to redraw political districts at the state and local levels and to allocate federal funding.
The case in New York had progressed to the trial phase. The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to postpone the trial while it is in the process of deciding whether to allow Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and another high-ranking administration official to be questioned under oath. The Court recently agreed to block a lower court order which would allow Ross to be deposed. According to various sources, the main push towards adding a citizenship question to the census came from Ross, and opponents of the question claim that a deposition would reveal that racial animus motivated the decision. The Trump administration has argued that the plaintiffs should not be allowed to ask the high-ranking officials their reasons behind the decision.
The Court rejected the administration’s request to delay the trial without opinion or explanation. Three of the Court’s conservative justices, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch, stated that they would have granted the application to delay.
The trial began on November 5 following the Court’s refusal.
If you or a loved one are facing deportation or have questions or concerns about your citizenship status, contact the knowledgeable and compassionate Queens immigration lawyers Gladstein & Messinger at 718-793-7800 or toll-free at 800-339-0535.