NORRIDGEWOCK — Both of Maine’s U.S. senators said Tuesday they are strongly opposed to President Donald Trump’s plan to issue an executive order revoking birthright citizenship for the children of noncitizens and unauthorized immigrants born in the United States.
“I completely disagree with that,” Republican Sen. Susan Collins said in an interview following a news event and tour of the New Balance athletic shoe company. “If you are born in this country, you are an American. To me, it’s that simple.”
Collins said an executive order rescinding birthright citizenship would be subject to a court challenge and she believes the courts would likely invalidate the order.
Independent Sen. Angus King also responded in an interview after the event, saying he was against the president’s proposal.
“I’m concerned about any president trying to rewrite the Constitution by themselves,” King said. “That’s not the way our process works. I think there would almost certainly be a lawsuit and the courts will decide. But the 14th amendment of the Constitution is very clear.”
U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, who was also at Tuesday’s event at the shoe factory, initially said he was not aware of the issue and declined to comment.
“I didn’t see that,” Poliquin said. “I’m focused on the 900 jobs here at New Balance. For me, it’s all about jobs in Maine, keeping our families safe and making sure we have opportunities. We are here to celebrate this win at New Balance.”
Later in the afternoon, a spokesman for Poliquin issued a statement from the congressman that still did not take a position on the president’s executive order, but rather said, “We must be strong on border security, we must make sure those who enter our country do so legally, and we must know who is here in our country.”
He added, “Certainly any executive order or law must pass Constitutional muster.”
U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat representing the 1st Congressional District, was not at Tuesday’s event, which is outside her district, but her office issued a statement later in the day on Trump’s remarks.
“No president has the power to unilaterally change the Constitution, nor should they,” Pingree said. “Just as his claims of passing a tax bill while Congress is out of session were false, President Trump’s comments about American-born children are also untrue.
“One week before an election he has deliberately diverted attention away from his administration’s attempts to undo patient protections for people with pre-existing conditions and their deficit-exploding tax cuts for corporations.”
Trump’s remarks came in an interview with the news website Axios, released Tuesday, and follow similar, hard-line immigration rhetoric from the president in the weeks leading up to the midterm elections Nov. 6.
“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in, 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. It’s ridiculous and it has to end.”
In reality, 30 of the world’s 194 countries, including the United States and Canada, have policies of birthright citizenship, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for low levels of immigration.
In remarks with reporters, Collins also addressed the climate of the country in the wake of bombs sent to critics of Trump earlier this month and the shooting of more than a dozen people at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh over the weekend.
“I’m very concerned we seem to have lost a sense of community and caring in this country,” Collins said.
“It is never acceptable for violence to be used, whether it’s an attack that happened a year ago from a Bernie Sanders supporter where he shot the Republican leader in the House, Steve Scalise, or whether it’s pipe bombs being sent to critics of Donald Trump, or whether it’s shooting up a synagogue, a place of worship, in Pittsburgh. It is never acceptable to resort to violence.”
Asked whether she thinks the president has a responsibility to set a better tone for the nation, Collins said: “I think each of us has a responsibility. There is a real problem in our country today where people are disrespectful to people who have alternative views and there’s a lack of tolerance for differing points of view.
“Unfortunately, the rhetoric on both sides has been far too heated and I believe everyone from the president to members of the House and Senate to local and state leaders have an obligation to calm down the rhetoric and remember what unites us as Americans.”
About the Citizenship Clause
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he wants to order the end of the constitutional right to citizenship for babies of non-citizens and unauthorized immigrants born in the United States.
Section 1, which contains the Citizenship Clause, of the 14th Amendment guarantees that right for all children born in the U.S.
A look at the 14th Amendment:
What citizenship clause says
“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.”
The second sentence contains two of the most important clauses in the Constitution, the due process and equal protection clauses. They apply to everyone in the U.S., not just citizens:
“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The 14th Amendment was passed by Congress in 1866 after the Civil War and during the period of Reconstruction. The amendment was ratified on July 9, 1868 by three-fourths of the states. By extending citizenship to those born in the U.S., the amendment nullified an 1857 Supreme Court decision (Dred Scott v. Sandford), which had held that those descended from slaves could not be citizens.
Dred Scott and his wife Harriet were slaves who sued for their freedom after they were taken from the slave state of Missouri to the non-slave territories of Wisconsin and Illinois where slavery had been prohibited by the Missouri Compromise.
Scott argued that because he had lived in a free part of the country, he should be declared free.
The Supreme Court disagreed on March 6, 1857, with Supreme Court Justice Roger Brooke Taney writing that slaves were property that could not be taken away from their owners. He reasoned that when the Constitution was framed, educated whites generally regarded “negroes” as “beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race.”
However, Scott’s owner had died and his widow’s new husband, an abolitionist, emancipated Scott and his family in May 1857. Scott lived the last year of his life as a free man.
U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, right, holds up a New Balance athletic shoe Tuesday as Dave Wheeler, left, of the company hands U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Maine’s 2nd Congressional District their shoes in Norridgewock. Collins and King said they were opposed to President Donald Trump’s plan to issue an executive order revoking birthright citizenship for the children of noncitizens and unauthorized immigrants born in the U.S. Poliquin did not take a position on the order. (David Leaming/Morning Sentinel)