President Trump recently announced plans to sign an executive order that would seek the end of automatic "birthright citizenship" for babies of non-citizens born in the U.S., a policy he's described as "ridiculous." While Trump claims the controversial move could "definitely" be accomplished with legislation, others argue it would result in a locked legal battle.

"It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don't," Trump told "Axios on HBO" on Oct. 30, claiming he could do it with an executive order, though he didn't provide further details.

Democrats were quick to dispute Trump's declaration, calling it a distraction and unconstitutional.


“President Trump’s new claim he can unilaterally end the Constitution’s guarantee of citizenship shows Republicans’ spiraling desperation to distract from their assault on Medicare, Medicaid and people with pre-existing conditions," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in an online statement. “The President does not have the power to erase parts of the Constitution, but he and the GOP Congress have spent two years trying to erase protections for people with pre-existing conditions."

"It’s called demagoguery—fanning flames of hatred & false fear, & offering unlawful, ineffectual solutions like an executive order ending birthright citizenship. Unconstitutional & unworthy of a president," Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., echoed on Twitter.

But Trump says the outdated policy is an abuse of the U.S. immigration system.

The U.S. is 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 ... with all of those benefits," he told Axios.

Here's what you need to know about the 14th Amendment.

What does the 14th Amendment state?

"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," Section 1, Clause 1 of the 14th Amendment reads.


The next sentence details protections and rights that apply to everyone in the U.S., including non-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 second sentence states.

The history behind the Amendment

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.

"By directly mentioning the role of the states, the 14th Amendment greatly expanded the protection of civil rights to all Americans and is cited in more litigation than any other Amendment," according to the Library of Congress.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.