Donald Trump wants to end birthright citizenship for some US-born babies. Picture: AP
Donald Trump wants to end birthright citizenship for some US-born babies. Picture: AP

Trump launches new attack on immigrants

US PRESIDENT Donald Trump has announced he wants to order the end of the constitutional right to citizenship for babies of non-citizens and unauthorised immigrants born in the United States.

The president's comments to Axios on HBO come amid a renewed push for hard line immigration policies before the midterm elections.

Mr Trump believes focusing on immigration will energise his supporters and help Republicans keep control of Congress.

Revoking birthright citizenship would spark a court fight over the president's unilateral ability to change an amendment to the Constitution.

The 14th Amendment guarantees that right for children born in the US.

Asked about the legality of such an executive order, Mr Trump said "they're saying I can do it just with an executive order."

Mr Trump said White House lawyers are reviewing his proposal. It's unclear how quickly he'd act on an executive order.

 

BORDER CRACKDOWN

The president's crackdown on birthright citizenship comes just after the Pentagon said it's sending 5200 troops to the Southwest border in an extraordinary military operation to try and stop Central American migrants moving north in slow-moving caravans that are still hundreds of miles from the US. Some of the troops will be armed.

The number of troops being deployed is more than double the 2000 who are in Syria fighting the Islamic State group.

Mr Trump stepped up his dire warnings about the caravans in a scathing Twitter rant this week.

"This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!"

But any migrants who complete the long trek to the southern US border already face major hurdles - both physical and bureaucratic - to being allowed into the United States.

In an interview on Monday, Mr Trump said the US would build "tent cities" for asylum seekers.

"We're going to put tents up all over the place," told Fox News Channel's Laura Ingraham. "They're going to be very nice and they're going to wait and if they don't get asylum, they get out."

Under current protocol, migrants who clear an initial screening are often released until their cases are decided in immigration court, which can take several years.

 

Time Magazine took a shot at President Trump’s hard line immigration stance on its front cover. Picture: Time
Time Magazine took a shot at President Trump’s hard line immigration stance on its front cover. Picture: Time

The Pentagon's "Operation Faithful Patriot" was described by the commander of US Northern Command as an effort to help Customs and Border Protection "harden the southern border" by stiffening defences at and near legal entry points.

Advanced helicopters will allow border protection agents to swoop down on migrants trying to cross illegally, said Air Force Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy.

Troops planned to bring heavy concertina wiring to unspool across open spaces between ports.

"We will not allow a large group to enter the US in an unlawful and unsafe manner," Kevin McAleenan, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection said.

 

A KEY ELECTION ISSUE

The escalating rhetoric over the migrants and expected deployments come as the president has been trying to turn immigration into a key election issue, just days before elections that will determine whether Republicans maintain control of Congress.

"This will be the election of the caravans, the Kavanaughs, law and order, tax cuts, and you know what else? It's going to be the election of common sense," Mr Trump said at a rally in Illinois on Saturday night.

On Monday, he tweeted without providing evidence, "Many Gang Members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan heading to our Southern Border."

It's possible there are criminals mixed in with immigration, but Mr Trump has not substantiated his claim that members of the MS-13 gang, in particular, are among them.

The troops are expected to perform a wide variety of functions such as transporting supplies for the Border Patrol, but not engage directly with migrants seeking to cross the border, officials said.

One US official said the troops will be sent initially to staging bases in California, Texas and Arizona while the CBP works out precisely where it wants the troops positioned.