WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump wants more than a wall to keep out immigrants living in the country illegally. He also wants to end "birthright citizenship" for their children, he said Sunday. And he would rescind Obama administration executive orders on immigration and toughen deportation, allowing in only "the good ones."
Trump described his expanded vision of how to secure American borders during a wide-ranging interview Sunday on NBC's "Meet The Press," saying that he would push to end the constitutionally protected citizenship rights of children of any family living illegally inside the U.S.
"They're illegal," he said, describing native-born children of people living illegally in the U.S.
"What they're doing, they're having a baby," Trump said. "And then all of a sudden, nobody knows ... the baby's here."
His interview with host Chuck Todd got testy when Trump indicated he'd rescind the Dream Act executive order.
"So you're going to split up families?" Todd asked sharply. "You're going to deport children?"
Trump answered that he'd keep families together but that the entire family would have to leave the country.
"What if they have no place to go?" Todd shot back.
"We will work with them, they have to go," Trump replied. "Chuck, we either have a country, or we don't have a country."
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Native-born children of immigrants — even those living illegally in the U.S. — have been automatically considered American citizens since the adoption of the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution in 1868.
The odds of repealing the amendment's citizenship clause would be steep, requiring the votes of two-thirds of both houses of Congress and support from three-fourths of the nation's state legislatures. Republicans in Congress have pushed without success to repeal that provision since 2011.
Trump's remarks came as his campaign website posted his program for "immigration reform." Among its details: Making Mexico pay for a permanent border wall. Mandatory deportation of all "criminal aliens." Tripling the force of immigration officers by eliminating tax credit payments to immigrant families residing illegally in the U.S.
He said that families with U.S.-born children could return quickly if deemed worthy by the government. "We're going to try and bring them back rapidly, the good ones," he said, adding: "We will expedite it so people can come back in. The good people can come back."
Trump did not elaborate on how he would define "good people." But echoing earlier controversial remarks that Mexico was sending criminals across the border, Trump said a tough deportation policy was needed because "there's definitely evidence" of crimes linked to immigrants living in the country illegally.
The New York businessman also said he would waste little time rescinding President Barack Obama's executive actions aimed at allowing as many as 3.7 million immigrants living illegally in the U.S. to remain in the country because of their U.S.-born relatives. Obama's November 2014 actions were halted by temporary injunctions ordered by several federal courts in rulings challenging his executive powers to alter immigration policies without Congressional approval. The cases could lead to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"We have to make a whole new set of standards," Trump said. "And when people come in, they have to come in legally."
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