Trump, Paul Ryan Clash Over Birthright Citizenship

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(John T. Bennett, CQ-Roll Call) President Donald Trump lashed out at Speaker Paul D. Ryan a day after the retiring GOP leader broke with the president over granting U.S. citizenship to any child born on U.S. soil.

“Paul Ryan should be focusing on holding the (House) Majority rather than giving his opinions on Birthright Citizenship, something he knows nothing about! Our new Republican Majority will work on this, Closing the Immigration Loopholes and Securing our Border!” Trump tweeted Wednesday afternoon.

Trump contends the wording of the 14th Amendment, which grants the citizenship, gives him the authority. But Ryan said Tuesday ending the policy would require a constitutional amendment.

The president said Monday he is mulling an order that would end the citizenship grant as a way, in his view, to remove a lure for undocumented migrants to come to the U.S. illegally.

Democrats decried Trump’s threat, saying it is unconstitutional and merely an election-year ploy aimed at using an unattainable promise to fire up his conservative base in key House districts and Senate races.

In another Wednesday tweet, the president acknowledged that if he does sign an order, the Supreme Court would inevitably have to settle a subsequent court battle.

Trump and Ryan have clashed in the past, but mostly the two Republicans have had a functional working relationship.

“You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order,” the Wisconsin Republican said in an interview with WLVK while campaigning in Kentucky Tuesday.

“As a conservative, I’m a believer in following the plain text of the Constitution,” Ryan added. “And in this case, I think the 14th Amendment is pretty clear, and that would involve a very, very lengthy constitutional process.”

Amending the constitution involves the cooperation of either two-thirds of Congress or three-fourths of all states, neither is likely for changing birthright citizenship given the current political climate.

Despite dismissing the process Trump proposed, Ryan was careful not to trample on the idea itself.

“Where we obviously totally agree with the president is getting at the root issue here, which is unchecked illegal immigration,” the speaker said.

(Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.)

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