Things That Matter

The Trump Administration Is Threatening To Overturn The 14th Amendment By Ending Birthright Citizenship

While Donald Trump has made immigration one of the central policies of his presidency, on Wednesday he took it one further. The president told reporters he was “very seriously” considering issuing an executive order to make changes to birthright citizenship, which some argue is protected as a constitutional right. 

“We’re looking at that very seriously, birthright citizenship, where you have a baby on our land, you walk over the border, have a baby–congratulations, the baby is now a U.S. citizen,” Trump said on Wednesday outside the White House. “It’s frankly ridiculous.”

While the President did not elaborate on what he meant by the statement, many are questioning if this is even possible.   Several lawmakers and political pundits have already cast doubt on his ability to take such action calling the statement “ridiculous.” Presidential hopeful Kamala Harris lauded Trump’s comments on Twitter saying the President “should ‘seriously’ consider reading the Constitution.”

This isn’t the first time that the president has discussed the topic of ending birthright citizenship.

Credit: @emeraldrobinson / Twitter

The president originally brought up the subject of ending the rule that grants automatic citizenship to those born in the United States back during his 2016 presidential campaign. He argued that many migrants make the trip to the southern U.S. border with intentions to have a child shortly after to give them legal status. He brought up the issue again last year when he said he would sign an executive order to end the policy. 

In an interview with Axios last year, President Trump brought up the issue of birthright citizenship. He said the amendment had become a magnet for illegal immigration in the U.S. and has only encouraged more people to come here. 

“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits,” President Trump told Axios at the time. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”

At the time, Trump claimed the U.S.  is “the only country in the world” that allows birthright citizenship. That is a lie. Birthright citizenship is a recognized form of citizenship in 32 other nations, including Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Venezuela. 

So what legal standing or power does President Trump have to change birthright citizenship?

Credit: @davidfrench / Twitter

The right to citizenship for anyone born in the U.S. has been guaranteed in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution for more than 150 years. It states: “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.”

So what power does President Trump have, if any, of ending the amendment? Not much.

The president cannot amend the Constitution or sign an executive order trying to end or restrict the right to citizenship of an individual born in the U.S. If he did there would almost certainly be a bevy of challenges in court as a violation of the 14th Amendment. In order for birthright citizenship to be revoked in the U.S., the president would need Congress to support the change and vote to ratify the amendment, which are both unlikely to happen. 

While the number of female immigrants that come to the U.S every year to give birth in unclear, The Center for Immigration Studies, an organization that advocates for immigration laws, estimated that in 2012 about 36,000 foreign-born women gave birth in the U.S., then promptly left.

President Trump has made cracking down on immigration a major focus point for his re-election campaign. 

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President Trump’s statement coincidentally came on the same day that his administration announced a proposal to detain migrant families indefinitely. This replaced the decades-old Flores Settlement Agreement that required children to be held no longer than 20 days under government detainment.

Last April, the Trump administration unveiled the controversial “zero tolerance” policy that led to the separation of thousands of migrant families. That would be later reversed after much blowback from both sides of the political aisle. Just last week, an announcement was made that a range of programs would disqualify immigrants from legal status if they are deemed to be a burden to the U.S. and make it harder to obtain a green card.

So, we will have to wait and see if Trump is willing to knowingly violate the Constitution in an attempt at reelection.

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The National Popular Vote May Be The Fastest Way To Get Rid Of The Electoral College

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The National Popular Vote May Be The Fastest Way To Get Rid Of The Electoral College

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We may not be able to get rid of the electoral college without a constitutional amendment but a new proposal known as the National Popular Vote (NPV) is picking up a lot of steam. 

The United States is supposed to be a democracy where voters choose their leaders. In the past two decades, the will of the people has been subverted by the will of the electoral college. Imagine how the country might be different had Al Gore, an environmentalist, who won the popular vote against George W. Bush, who started the disastrous Iraq war, was elected instead? Imagine if Hillary Clinton, who hasn’t been accused of sexual assault two dozen times, and beat Donald Trump by 3 million votes had secured her seat in the oval? 

15 states and the District of Columbia have already adopted NPV.

“As signatories, each jurisdiction pledges to select Electoral College members who support the presidential candidate who won the most votes nationally, regardless of which candidate won the most votes in that particular jurisdiction,” according to the Atlantic

NPV is an interstate compact that requires a certain level of commitment from neighboring states. The pact will go into effect when participating states total 270 electoral college votes (the required number for the president-elect). The 16 regions that have made the commitment are already at 196 electoral college votes. 

NPV is also making waves in state politics on a lower level. It appear state officials are paving a way to pass the pact.

“The National Popular Vote bill has now passed a total of 40 state legislative chambers in 24 states. It has also passed at least one legislative chamber in 8 states possessing 75 electoral votes (AR, AZ, ME, MI, MN, NC, NV, OK).  It has been unanimously approved at the committee level in 2 states possessing 27 more electoral votes (GA, MO),” according to NationalPopularVote.com.

The plan would not totally eradicate the electoral college but it would mean that state leaders have made a commitment to effectively ignore it. Voters often express conflicting attitudes about candidates: they really love one candidate, but question if they can win the electoral college. Proponents of NPV would argue such compromises have no place in a democracy and NPV can help eliminate the conflict altogether. 

NPV could solve two major issues with the electoral college.

There are two major longstanding issues with the electoral college. The first is that our system is based on the premise of “one voter, one vote.” However, the system is skewed in favor of voters in a few small states. Electoral votes are determined by the number of representatives in Congress which is determined by the state population. 

The Washington Post notes that while small states receive a minimum of three electoral votes, larger states have limits on how many electoral votes they can receive. 

” Wyoming, with 586,107 residents — gets three electoral college votes… Consider that California, the most populous state, has 39,144,818 residents and 55 electoral college votes,” according to the paper. “That means that in the electoral college, each individual Wyoming vote weighs 3.6 times more than an individual Californian’s vote.” 

The second issue is the “winner take all” effect, where no matter how small a margin of victory a candidate has, they take all the electoral votes. This means our election outcomes are determined by a few swing states. While some argue that a popular vote will hurt the Republican party, such detractors might ask why Republicans are unable to curry enough favor to win over most American voters. 

The electoral college also disenfranchises about 4 million voters who live on territories.

“Roughly 4 million Americans live in the United States’ five permanently populated overseas territories — and they have no voice in selecting a president. That includes Puerto Rico, the United States’ most populous overseas territory, whose population is larger than that of 21 states and the District of Columbia,” according to the Washington Post. 

While residents of the territories can participate in primaries (Marco Rubio won the Puerto Rican GOP primary by a landslide in 2016, for example), they have no electoral votes with the exception of Washington, D.C. 

“More and more, the United States is likely to elect presidents who haven’t won the popular vote — awarding the presidency to a party that has no popular mandate. The compromises behind the U.S. election system are failing at their goals,” Katy Collin wrote for the Washington Post

One of the original intentions of the electoral college may have been to give smaller states a voice, but it has essentially assured that smaller states are the only voices that matter when it comes to picking our most important leader. 

7 Undocumented Workers Were Fired From A Virginia Trump Winery After The Harvest Was Over

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7 Undocumented Workers Were Fired From A Virginia Trump Winery After The Harvest Was Over

trumpwinery / Instagram

In 2018, vineyards in Virginia had an unfortunate season. The area experienced too much rain. Local winemakers called it the “toughest” season in the past two decades and that the harsh weather made it, so they produced less wine because so many grapes were lost. This season, however — because climate change has brought forth such unpredictable weather forecasts —  Virginia vineyards had a very successful season. With such a positive harvest, one would assume that vineyard workers would get some kind of bonus. Instead, they got fired.

Seven undocumented employees that worked at a Trump Virginia winery were fired before the end of the year because they were not U.S. citizens. 

Credit: @kylegriffin1 / Twitter

The Washington Post reports that the firing came at the end of December, before the start of 2020, which is odd timing considering other undocumented employees at other Trump properties almost a year ago. 

Back at the start of 2019, undocumented employees that worked at a Trump golf course in New Jersey were fired for lack of documentation to work in the U.S. So far, most of the workers that were fired back then said that the higher-ups, including President Donald Trump and his children who own the properties, were aware that they had undocumented workers on their payroll. Even then, the firings were odd, considering the president has been on an anti-immigrant, anti-Latino, and anti-undocumented agenda since before his election. Yet all of the firings, even the most recent ones, seem to come when it’s most convenient for the company. 

The undocumented workers were fired at the end of the harvest season when they had completed their work on the vineyard. 

Credit: @swimmerbr78 / Twitter

Workers told the Washington Post that while they had anxiety about losing their jobs all year, especially after other undocumented employees at other properties were fired. But work went on as usual at the vineyard. The workers also report that earlier in December, Eric Trump, who is listed as the president of some of the Trump properties, visited the vineyard and was very gracious to his employees. The Post was in touch with several of the undocumented employees for months prior to their firing. 

“He gave me his hand,” Omar Miranda, one of the employees that was fired, recalled to the Post about Eric’s visit. Miranda had won a raffle, and Eric shook his hand and added, “Eric is like a co-worker.” Then, a couple of weeks later, he was fired. 

The workers said that Trump, his family, and management knew exactly what they were doing when they waited to fire them after the grape season had ended. 

Credit: @CalawayJaneen / Twitter

“They didn’t make this decision in the summer because they needed us a lot then,” Miranda told the Post. Another employee said, “I think they wanted to get their product out well, the grapes, to make sure that was taken care of, and once things were slow, they could fire us all.”

The publication asked the Trump organization about why they waited so long to fire these undocumented employees, and their statement was the same as it was last year when they fired employees at the golf course: “Consistent with our efforts, we will immediately terminate any individual who has provided fake identification in order to unlawfully gain employment.” 

People on social media expressed their anger over the timing of this firing as well as Trump’s treatment of their undocumented workers. 

Credit: @CMCRET / Twitter

Chef José Andrés tweeted, “Mr. ⁦@realDonaldTrump⁩ why instead of firing them 3 years into your presidency, you pass immigration reform, giving #DREAMers and undocumented the place in the USA they deserve?”

“Not only are trump companies still employing undocumented immigrants, they hold off firing them in order take advantage of their labor as long as possible,” another tweeted. “He has no shame.”

As we noted earlier, this season Virginia experienced one of the best grape seasons in years. So it makes sense management didn’t want to fire employees until after the harvest to take advantage of the booming business. 

Credit: @EdHull8 / Twitter

“You have the perfect alignment of rainfall, sun, wind, weather, to where the quality of your grapes are the highest you’ve seen in a really long time,” Winemaker Emily Pelton told WHSV3 News.

Perhaps if the season had been a washout as it was in 2018, the undocumented employees would have been fired earlier in the year. We guess there’s always a silver lining. 

READ: With Reports Of Trump Employing Undocumented Workers, CBP Was Asked Why Trump’s Properties Have Not Been Raided