CNN’s Jim Acosta Says Trump Violates Constitution by Canceling Birthright Citizenship

Jim Acosta of CNN listens during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
AP/Susan Walsh

Jim Acosta, CNN’s White House correspondent, claimed Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s plan to use an executive order to end birthright citizenship violated the U.S. Constitution — a complaint rarely heard from Acosta or the rest of the mainstream media when President Barack Obama used executive orders to help illegal aliens.

Acosta went on a tweetstorm Tuesday morning, ending by retweeting a colleague who implied that Trump had violated his oath of office:

Trump told Axios, in an interview released by HBO on Tuesday, that he intended ending birthright citizenship, the principle by which an individual becomes an American citizen by virtue of being born on American soil, even if his or her parents are not Americans or even in the country legally.

He said he would use an executive order to stop federal agencies from recognizing birthright citizenship automatically, saying that he had recently been informed by White House counsel that he could do so without amending the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

The Fourteenth Amendment is often cited as the basis for birthright citizenship. Conservative originalists disagree as to whether the amendment requires birthright citizenship: Breitbart News’ Ken Klukowski, among others, argues that it does not; National Review’s Dan McLaughlin argues that it does. The dispute turns on the phrase “subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” which some argue ought not apply to children of illegal aliens. But Trump’s policy is at least arguably constitutional.

In contrast, President Obama knew that his executive orders — not only the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program of 2012, which extended prosecutorial discretion to millions of illegal aliens brought to the U.S. as minors, but also the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program of 2014, were on shaky constitutional ground.

Obama said no fewer than 22 times that he lacked the constitutional authority to circumvent Congress’s legislative powers and make these kinds of sweeping changes.

Yet Acosta and other journalists, who were quiet about Obama’s constitutional violations, have suddenly found their voice in opposing Trump’s proposal, which is on stronger constitutional ground.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), long a proponent of immigration reform, applauded Trump’s proposal on Tuesday and pledged to introduce legislation to end birthright citizenship — an even more constitutionally sound way of tacking the issue.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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