MALDEF Statement on Citizenship Guaranteees Under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

October 30, 2018

Los Angeles, CA - Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), released the following statement today in response to Donald J. Trump’s incorrect assertion that the Constitutional guarantee of citizenship to all persons born in the United States can be eliminated by executive order:

“In 2011, the American Bar Association (ABA), through a unanimous vote of its House of Delegates, representing members from around the country, adopted a resolution to oppose any effort to restrict the right to citizenship by birth in the United States. The ABA governing body took its unanimous vote based upon a resolution presented by the ABA Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities, and upon a report that explains the strong legal and policy support for the Fourteenth Amendment’s conferral of citizenship on every person born on United States territory, with only very limited exceptions. As president and general counsel of MALDEF, I was proud to serve as lead author of the report and to join in presenting the resolution to the ABA House of Delegates in 2011. Along with many other informed sources, the ABA position, together with the unanimous voice vote in support of it, demonstrate that Donald Trump has no authority to alter the constitutional rule granting citizenship to those born in the United States.

“Trump’s assertion that he can change citizenship through executive order is simply another dog whistle to the far right, premised on yet another Trump falsehood, and plainly floated in the vain service of averting an electoral debacle on November 6. It is an empty threat, devoid of any lawful authority whatsoever. Of course, the fact that Donald Trump would assert such a false arrogation of power demonstrates how much he has sold himself to white nationalists and how much of a threat his leadership is to our constitutional order.

“If anyone who is a part of, or who supports, the Latino community needs any further reason to vote this election, the oompa loompa in chief has now provided it. Regardless of how you vote, every eligible voter must register and vote in this critical election. Voting is an act of invested defiance, demonstrating support for our democracy and defying a president who plainly wishes to exclude the Latino community from meaningful participation in national governance. Vote for democracy. Vote for the Constitution. Vote for citizenship. Vote to resist!”

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

Copyright 2009 MALDEF, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund