Things That Matter

Trump Administration Plans To End Birthright Citizenship And They Say A Constitutional Amendment Isn’t Necessary

The acting United States Citizenship and Immigration Services director Ken Cuccinelli told the Christian Science Monitor, at a breakfast they hosted, that he believes a constitutional amendment isn’t required to end birthright citizenship. When Newsweek tried to corroborate this claim with constitutional law experts, they disagreed. 

“Yes, it would require a constitutional amendment, and almost everyone else working on this topic would agree,” Ian Bartrum, a law professor at University of Nevada, Las Vegas told Newsweek.

However, threats to end birthright citizenship — as stated in the 14th amendment that anyone born in the U.S. is a citizen — should not be taken lightly. Amanda Frost, a professor at American University’s Washington College of Law, penned an op-ed for the Atlantic which claims citizenship is in a fragile state due to an onslaught of the Trump Administration’s policies. 

Is an end of birthright citizenship coming? Ken Cuccinelli certainly hopes so.

“I do not think you need an amendment to the Constitution. I think the question is do you need congressional action or can the executive act on their own,” Cuccinelli told the Christian Science Monitor. 

Cuccinelli was echoing the hope of President Trump who stated in August that he was considering ending birthright citizenship “very seriously.” 

“Where you have a baby on our land, you walk over the border, have a baby,-congratulations, the baby is now a US citizen…It’s frankly ridiculous,” Trump said. 

As early as October 2018, Trump alleged he would use an executive order to end it, however then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan dismissed Trump’s claims as legally impossible because “the Fourteenth Amendment is pretty clear.” 

Why do we need a new constitutional amendment to end birthright citizenship?

The Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in 1868 states clearly, “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.”Meaning anyone born in the U.S. (regardless of their parent’s status) or anyone who goes through the legal process of becoming naturalized is a citizen of the United States. Constitutional Amendments are the legal foundation of our government, changing them is not so easy. In order to repeal an old one, a new one is necessary. For example, the Twenty-First Amendment in 1933 was ratified to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment, which prohibited alcohol. 
To pass a new amendment would require three-fourths of states (34 states) to ratify the amendment and make it law. Thus, many have dismissed the idea that ending birthright citizenship would ever be possible — 34 states would never agree. This is why Cuccinelli’s statements have experts and advocates vexxed. 

Can we end birthright citizenship through congressional action like Cuccinelli says? 

One can only speculate if Cuccinelli is referring to the process of proposing an amendment that would require a two-thirds majority in Congress but this method would still necessitate ratification by 34 states and would still be an amendment. It is unclear what method of congressional action or executive action would result in ending birthright citizenship. 

The Daily Beast reported that in 2008, Cuccinelli urged congress to call a constitutional convention to amend the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, “to clarify specifically that a person born to a parent who is a U. S. citizen is also a citizen of the United States,” in order to exclude children born to undocumented parents.

As Newsweek notes, “[Law professor] Bartrum mentioned that the 14th Amendment was created to overturn the Dred Scott case, which allowed states to deny citizenship to the descendants of former and freed slaves. He noted that overturning that amendment would be questionable.”

Nevertheless, birthright citizenship is still in a precarious position as threats mount against it.

In “The Fragility of American Citizenship,” Amanda Frost highlights that the Trump administration has chipped away at the premise that all you would need to prove that you’re a citizen is a birth or naturalization certificate. The Trump administration has created a denaturalization team dedicated to investigating 700,000 naturalized citizens. 

One man, Baljinder Singh, had his citizenship revoked under the Trump administration, despite being naturalized and living here for three decades because a government official spelled his first name incorrectly when he arrived in the United States as a teenager. Birthright citizens are being attacked too. 

“Take, for example, retired Marine Gunnery Sergeant Enrique Martinez. His birth certificate stating he was born in Texas was good enough for the U.S. Marine Corps. Nonetheless, the State Department refused his application for a passport on the grounds that it was insufficient proof that he was a U.S. citizen,” Frost wrote. 

Frost believes these denials and denaturalizations are an, “attack on the citizenship of ethnic, racial, and religious minorities.”

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As Trump Rushes To Build More Border Wall Before The Election, Here’s A Timeline Of His Border Wall Failures

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As Trump Rushes To Build More Border Wall Before The Election, Here’s A Timeline Of His Border Wall Failures

Saul Loeb / Getty Images

With just 34 days to go until the election, Trump is in an all out mission to build as much border wall as he can. Throughout his 2016 campaign and his time in the White House, he has made his vanity project a key component in his identity as president.

He’s used it to ratchet up xenophobia and to implement his draconian immigration policies while also using it to build support among his die hard MAGA-loving supporters. But there’s just one problem: Trump has completely failed in his mission to deliver a border wall to his supporters.

Since the 2016 election, according to the LA Times, the Trump Administration has only built 5 new miles of border wall – yes, just five miles of border wall along a 1,954 mile long border.

However, the larger point is that we are still wasting billions of dollars to built an apartheid wall twice as tall as the Berlin Wall. It’s a complete waste of money and it’s wreaking havoc on our environment, politics, and security.

Trump is racing to complete more border wall in time for the November election.

The election is just over a month away and the Trump administration is quickly realizing that one of Trump’s biggest promises to his supporters, remains unfulfilled. This has led to an all out push to construct additional border wall, with construction crews now adding nearly two miles per day. It is an unprecedented pace toward meeting one of Trump’s signature 2016 campaign promises.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) say that the rate of construction has nearly doubled since the beginning of the year, accelerated by the government’s ability to cut through national forests, wildlife preserves and other public lands already under federal control.

The rapid pace of construction has had the biggest impact in Arizona. There, crews have literally blasted through protected areas and federal lands — areas where the administration is able to bypass environmental laws, archaeological reviews and other safeguards.

In fact, crews have been using dynamite to level the steep sides of Guadalupe Canyon, a rugged span where the cost of the barrier exceeds $41 million per mile. Across the state at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, border agents have forcefully broken up protests by members of the O’odham Nation attempting to block the bulldozers near ancestral burial sites and a fragile desert oasis.

Officials hope to hold a ceremony celebrating 400-miles of new border wall before the election.

Trump is hoping to celebrate the 400-mile mark with a major celebration touting his great success on the border wall. But as earlier figures show, it’s all a sham. Most of the border wall that’s being built is not new.

However, Mark Morgan, the acting CBP commissioner, told reporters that the president has proved his doubters and critics wrong.

“Even as the nonbelievers, the folks who have been out there for a very long time who said we were never going to get this done, what I refer to as the judicial activism of lower courts that have tried to stop our construction of the wall, the false narratives and, quite frankly, the lies out there about the effectiveness and need of the wall — despite all that — this president has remained steadfast in his commitment, his commitment to the American people and to the men and women of CBP,” said Morgan, erroneously claiming the government was building 10 miles per day.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden says he will shut down border wall construction if elected president.

As with so much else, the future of the wall project is contingent on the outcome of the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Biden has been very open about his plan to immediately end construction of the border wall if elected. This could be a big shock to the giant industry that has sprouted up to build the wall. Crews have been working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on at least five locations on the border, according to officials overseeing the project who spoke on the condition of anonymity to the Washington Post.

“There will not be another foot of wall construction in my administration,” Biden said in August during an interview with reporters from the National Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Biden said he favors “high tech” systems that rely on surveillance technology and would direct resources to the legal border crossings where most illegal narcotics are seized.

Despite the lack of new construction, CBP officials are already calling the wall a success.

Officials say that the increase in apprehensions of migrants caught hiding in tractor trailers or coming ashore on California beaches is proof that the border wall is working. But that just simply isn’t the case when you’ve only built 5-miles of border wall.

Meanwhile, even though it’s patently false, Trump continues to deceive the public with claims that Mexico is footing the bill. Mexico is not paying for the wall.

The president has obtained $15 billion in federal funds for the project, but just one-third of that money has been authorized by Congress. The rest, nearly $10 billion, has been diverted from the U.S. military budget, giving Trump enough to build 738 miles of new barriers, or enough to cover more than a third of the 2,000-mile boundary with Mexico.

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The Trump Administration Just Announced That They’re Banning TikTok Downloads Starting on Sunday

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The Trump Administration Just Announced That They’re Banning TikTok Downloads Starting on Sunday

On Friday, the Trump administration announced that it would be blocking future downloads of social media app TikTok starting on midnight on Sunday.

“At the President’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations,” said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross

The Trump Administraiton is also taking action against the popular messaging and payment app WeChat, banning American companies from hosting the app’s internet traffic or processing transactions for the app (one of its key features).

Both TikTok and WeChat are the two most popular tech exports from China.

via Getty Images

TikTok is a popular video-sharing platform that allows users to share 15-second videos of themselves dancing and lip-syncing to popular music (among other things). The app recently exploded in popularity, racking up 99.8 million downloads in the first six months of 2020.

TikTok and WeChat have both been recent targets of the Trump administration due to their data-collection practices.

TikTok, specifically, has recently come under fire for violating Google privacy policies. TikTok collects and documents massive amounts of data from their users, like videos watched and commented on, location data, device type, and copy-and-paste “clipboard” contents. The app even records people’s keystroke rhythms as they type.

The Trump Administration has long been suspicious of TikTok’s data-collection, speculating that TikTok might be sending the data to the Chinese government.

The Trump administration has argued that such massive amounts of data in the hands of a foreign government is a threat to national security. TikTok denies that they are handing over the data to the Chinese government.

TikTok, for their part, are not hiding their displeasure about the ban, releasing a public statement saying: “We will continue to challenge the unjust executive order, which was enacted without due process and threatens to deprive the American people and small businesses across the US of a significant platform for both a voice and livelihoods.”

This isn’t the first time TikTok has gone toe-to-toe with the Trump administration. The social media company sued the administration in August after Trump signed an executive order enacting broad sanctions against the app. TikTok claimed that the order denied the company of due process.

The TikTok ban is making waves because it marks the first time the U.S. has banned a tech app on the basis of national security concerns.

But some critics are saying that there doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason behind the ban. “It just feels to me to be improvisational,” said cyber-security expert Adam Segal.

Both TikTok users and concerned Americans have taken to the internet to express their anger at the Trump administration’s decision.

“Don’t be mistaken folks,” said one Twitter user. “Sunday it will be TikTok. Tomorrow it will be twitter, FB, Instagram…you name it…We must protect free speech!”

Another pointed out the hypocrisy of Trump targeting China when he doesn’t seem to be as concerned about Russia meddling in our internet affairs. “I live in a world where TikTok is a threat to national security but Russian interference in our elections is not,” she said. “This is Trump’s America.”

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