Obama Shuts Down Trump's Claim That He Can End Birthright Citizenship

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For more than a year, former President Barack Obama has remained largely quiet when it came to commenting on how his successor, President Donald Trump, chooses to run things at the White House. But it appears as if Obama may have finally had enough. Obama pushed back on Trump's birthright citizenship claim Friday, saying presidents don't get to decide who's American and who's not.

"A president doesn't get to decide on his own who's an American citizen and who's not," Obama said, while speaking at a campaign rally for two Democratic candidates in Florida on Friday. "That's not how the Constitution of the United States works. That's not how the Bill of Rights works. That's not how our democracy works."

Earlier in the week, President Trump announced he was putting together an executive order designed to end birthright citizenship, a constitutionally-guaranteed right to citizenship extended to all babies born in the United States, regardless of their parents' citizenship status.

In an interview with Axios that was released, in part, on Tuesday, Trump said he'd "always" been told that ending birthright citizenship required a constitutional amendment. "Guess what?" the president said. "You don't ... Now they're saying I can do it just with an executive order."

"It's in the process," Trump went on to say. "It will happen... with an executive order."

"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," Trump said. "It's ridiculous."

While speaking at a campaign rally in Miami on Friday for Senate incumbent Bill Nelson and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, Obama argued that democracy and society can't work if there's no truth.

"In our own lives, in our marriages, in our families, if consistently the people we're dealing with can't believe what we say, if our children see that it doesn't matter that you actually accomplish things — all you do is just make stuff up whenever it's expedient — society doesn't work, democracy doesn't work," Obama said. "And that's what's happening at the highest levels."

Obama also chastised Trump and Congressional Republicans for using distraction tactics and appearing to make an about face on a number of issues as the midterm election draws near. "I'm assuming people must get upset when they see folks who spend all their time vilifying others, questioning their patriotism, calling them enemies of the people, and then suddenly pretending they're concerned about civility." he said. "Don't be bamboozled. Don't be hoodwinked."

But Obama isn't the only person to challenge Trump's claim that he can end birthright citizenship with an executive order. In fact, even members of Trump's own party have pushed back on the idea.

"Well, you obviously cannot do that," House Speaker Paul Ryan said in an interview with Kentucky radio station WVLK. "As a conservative, I'm a believer in following the plain text of the Constitution, and I think in this case the 14th Amendment is pretty clear, and that would involve a very, very lengthy constitutional process."

The 14th Amendment 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."

On Saturday, Trump appeared to hit back at Obama, tweeting, "at least everybody admits that my lines and crowds are far bigger than Barack Obama's."