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Graham to introduce legislation backing Trump plan to end ‘absurd policy’ of birthright citizenship

Graham to introduce legislation backing Trump plan to end ‘absurd policy’ of birthright citizenship
Hot on the heels of President Trump’s announcement that he will end birthright citizenship for the children of noncitizens born in the US, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said he will plan legislation to make Trump’s job easier.

“Finally, a president willing to take on this absurd policy of birthright citizenship,” Graham tweeted on Tuesday. “In addition, I plan to introduce legislation along the same lines as the proposed executive order from President @realDonaldTrump.”

In an interview with Axios, taped on Monday, President Donald Trump said that the US’ policy of granting unrestricted citizenship to babies born on its soil “has to end.” The president added that he will end the policy with an executive order, but did not specify when.

In the US, birthright citizenship is guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which reads: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” While originally drafted in 1868 to establish civil rights for freed slaves and their descendents, the amendment has been widely interpreted to grant full citizenship rights to anyone born within the US.

As such, any executive order Trump gives will be bound by this Amendment. Since its inception, legal scholars have wrangled over whether the Amendment covers illegal immigrants and noncitizens residing in the US, and some have called on Congress to introduce legislation to clarify whether these people fall under the US’ jurisdiction in this regard.

Graham did not specify what exactly his proposed legislation will seek to achieve, but it is possible that he could address this issue. It is also possible that the South Carolina senator could seek to repeal the 14th Amendment entirely, but this long-shot proposal would require the support of two-thirds of the House and Senate, which Republicans lack and are unlikely to achieve, even if next week’s midterm elections go their way.

If Graham were seeking to clarify the issue of jurisdiction, his plan would have a better chance of success, especially if Republicans strengthen their control of the Senate next week. Polling site FiveThirtyEight gives the GOP a five in six chance of holding its current 51-49 majority, and a six percent chance of picking up an extra four seats.

Vice President Mike Pence also hinted on Tuesday that Trump is not looking to challenge the Amendment itself, and suggested that the issue of jurisdiction should be clarified.

“The Supreme Court of the United States has never ruled on whether or not the language of the 14th Amendment ‘subject to the jurisdiction thereof’ applies specifically to people who are in the country illegally,” Pence said at a Politico event on Tuesday.

Graham’s announcement came as part of a tirade against birthright citizenship, which he has threatened to legislate against for over a decade. In another tweet Tuesday morning, the senator called the policy “a magnet for illegal immigration” that “needs to come to an end.”

Graham’s fiery rhetoric on the subject mirrors President Trump’s efforts to keep illegal immigration in the spotlight as Americans prepare to go to the polls next Friday. In addition to his latest proposal, Trump has ordered the deployment of some 5,200 US troops to the Mexican border.

The troops will bolster the existing National Guard and Customs and Border Patrol presence at the border, as a thousands-strong ‘caravan’ of Central American migrants makes its way towards the US through Mexico.

READ MORE: 5k armed troops, helicopters & drones: Pentagon braces for ‘migrant invasion’

Once known as a milquetoast, forgettable, establishment Republican, Graham has reinvented himself of late as one of the most passionate and vocal defenders of President Trump’s agenda in the Senate.

Graham scathingly condemned the Democratic Party’s attempts to derail the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh last month, and has embraced the president’s fondness for wading into America’s culture wars with headline-grabbing soundbites.

“If you’re the radical left who is trying to destroy the country, you can kiss my ass,” the new, swaggering Senator Graham told the crowd at a GOP rally in Las Vegas on Monday evening.

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