updated 3:54 PM CET, Nov 28, 2020

Trump said reviving plan to end 'birthright citizenship' via executive order before leaving office

With two months to go until the end of his term, President Trump is considering an executive action that would end the current U.S. policy of conferring American citizenship on all babies born in the U.S., according to a Washington media report, which cited as its source a top presidential aide.

The report was published on Friday by The Hill, a Washington, DC-based news website that mainly covers the workings of the federal government, and widely re-reported by other news organizations on Saturday.

American expatriates who had an opinion on the matter said they thought that Trump would be unable to succeed in carrying out his plan – one of several said to be on a list of actions the president is said to be drawing up, as he prepares for the possibility that he would fail in his legal efforts to prove that Joe Biden didn't win the election after all.

Among other things, they said, birthright citizenship is protected under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and thus would most likely require more than an executive action to undo it, which would require more time than remains on the Trump administration's legislative clock. 

Under the current "birthright citizenship" system, babies born in the U.S. to non-American parents are considered to be American citizens. 

Some foreigners have long made a point of arranging to travel to the U.S. just before their babies were due, in order to ensure their offspring obtained what they consider to be a more valuable citizenship than they would have if they were born in the country of their parents, but as this and other publications have been reporting, the life-long tax obligations that come with U.S. citizenship have emerged in recent years as a significant downside to having been born in the U.S. if one doesn't wish to live there.

As reported, the Paris-based Accidental Americans Association (Association des Américains Accidentels, or AAA), is about to go ahead with a crowd-funded legal challenge in the U.S. to what it says is the "exorbitant" US$2,350 fee that is levied on those wishing to renounce their U.S. citizenship. The organization represents what it says are an estimated "tens of thousands" of individuals who are struggling to maintain their French bank accounts, along with other issues, as a result of their having been born in the U.S. to parents who were either French or of another, non-American nationality. 

Around the world, currently some 33 countries (counting the U.S.) currently have a policy of granting "unconditional birthright citizenship", according to a report on the subject published earlier this year, but as the report points out, "many countries" are currently undergoing "a reconsideration of unrestricted birthright citizenship" and in 2005, the right was abolished by Ireland, and in 2006, by New Zealand. 

"Legislation terminating unconditional birthright citizenship is currently under consideration in Tanzania," it added. 

Among those whose American citizenship today is a result of the U.S. birthright citizenship policy is vice president-elect Kamala Harris. When she was born in California in 1964, her Indian mother and Jamaican father were not yet U.S. citizens themselves. 

Part of anti-immigration policy package 

Putting an end to birthright citizenship is something Trump has been talking about since he was running for president back in 2016, as it is a key component in a package of policies that comprise his anti-immigration message.

According to The Hill, he has mentioned the idea several times since becoming president, including in August 2019, when, the report noted, he said his administration was “very seriously” considering such a measure.

In its report, The Hill quoted White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere as saying: “Since taking office, President Trump has never shied away from using his lawful executive authority to advance bold policies and fulfill the promises he made to the American people."

Deere added that he would "not speculate or comment" on the possibility that Trump would go ahead with a possible executive action on the subject of birthright citizenship.