Anchor Babies & Trump’s U.S. Citizenship Claims

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump participates in the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Reality Check: Anchor Babies’ And Trump’s U.S. Citizenship Claims

Contributed to TLB by: Ben Swann & Truth In Media

The two words that have lit up the political world over the past week: anchor babies.

2016 presidential candidate and billionaire Donald Trump says he is going to not only round up and deport 12 million people, but also change the 14th Amendment to our constitution.

How much of this could actually happen under a President Trump?

Trump has been making his case. The claim? That women who come to the United States and have a baby here on U.S. soil in order for their child to become a U.S. citizen are not protected by the constitution.

This edition of Ben Swann’s Reality Check explores claims by 2016 presidential candidate Donald Trump that “anchor babies” are not U.S. citizens.

What’s more, those babies—called “anchor babies“—he says are actually not citizens. He also claims some very good lawyers would agree with him.

So what does the 14th Amendment actually say?

The 14th Amendment came into being after the civil war as Congress in 1868 passed the amendment to enfranchise former slaves in the South. It reads …

All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States.”

In 1898, the Supreme Court ruled …

the amendment, in clear words and in manifest intent, includes children born within the territory of the United States of all other persons (except children born to enemy aliens and diplomats), of whatever race or color, domiciled within the United States.”

So, clearly stated, if you are born in the United States, you are a U.S. citizen. Right?

Well, believe it or not, Trump may be on to something.

I don’t think they have American citizenship, and if you speak to some very, very good lawyers, some would disagree,” Trump says in the video above. But many of them agree with me. You’re going to find they do not have American citizenship.”

Reality Check: Under the 14th Amendment, not everyone born within the United States has a citizen’s birthright. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 4 of the U.S. Constitution says Congress shall have power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization.

So the question is, can Congress, without changing the constitution, define who is a citizen and who is not?

Yes, because they have.

In 1868 when the 14th Amendment was passed, it excluded American Indians because they would have allegiance to their own native nation. But in 1923, without changing the constitution, Congress redefined requirements for citizenship by extending citizenship to American Indians.

Here’s what you need to know:

Yes, Trump is right that birthright citizenship is not guaranteed under our constitution.

But where he is wrong is in the idea that the children of immigrants who are already here are not really citizens. Because the current understanding of the 14th Amendment they have been granted citizenship.

In order to change that, Congress would have to attempt to strip citizenship from millions of Americans, something congress would not do. And even if they did, that attempt would have to go through the courts and almost certainly the Supreme Court would not allow that to happen.

That’s Reality Check. Let’s talk about this on Twitter @BenSwann_


Ben SwannBen Swann is an investigative journalist working tirelessly to dissolve the left/right paradigm prevalent in most mainstream media narratives. As a news reporter and anchor in the earlier days of his career, he has gained a wealth of experience while earning two Emmy Awards and two Edward R. Murrow awards. In addition to heading the Truth In Media Project, Ben is the prime anchor at WGCL-TV in Atlanta, GA. He can be seen anchoring live at 4 p.m., 5:30 p.m., 6 p.m., and 11 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday. A stream is available at


TLB recommends you visit Ben at Truth In Media for more pertinent shows, articles and information

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1 Comment on Anchor Babies & Trump’s U.S. Citizenship Claims

  1. The Supreme Court hasn’t ruled on the issue of illegal aliens who establish a claim of citizenship through their children from and of illegal immigration whose children were born here by their parents who are here illegally question yet. Even the Supreme Court might just find themselves up against the wall pretty quickly as this next election is going to push this question before the unwilling Supreme Court sooner or later.

    Maybe Donald Trump is a bit over the top, but his function as a candidate is to push the envelope, and to test the waters of public opinion, the rest of the pack are just going along to get along, and they really don’t enjoy taking a solid stand like Mr. Trump is, and I think that is his job right now, to challenge his opponents, and to force their opinions out of the shadows on the topic of illegal immigrants for once and for all to see in the clear light of day. And that politcally speaking, is a breath of fresh air. He has finally addressed this issue instead of avoiding it like the rest of the pack does. They clearly don’t like the heat this subject is drawing from the voters. And he is facing this subject directly instead of evading it like the rest of the Pack is. This is the function of a healthy discussion on the subject of illegal immigration in a Republic, because that is exactly what the founders gave us. A Republic.

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