The end of the party of Lincoln

On Tuesday, President Trump slammed birthright citizenship, which endows U.S. citizenship — and all the rights it entails — to children born in the United States, including children of noncitizens. “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 claimed — falsely — in an interview with Axios, saying he would try to end birthright citizenship with an executive order. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) quickly voiced support for the president’s call, tweeting: “ I plan to introduce legislation along the same lines as the proposed executive order from President @realDonaldTrump.”

Neither executive order nor legislation can end birthright citizenship, however, because of its origins in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. The amendment was forged from the fire of the Civil War, as Republicans in Congress sought to protect the rights of former slaves against the discrimination and violence of former Confederates in the South. Trump’s and Graham’s comments are a stunning indication of how far the GOP has drifted from its inception as a party that sought to protect oppressed minorities and defend liberty.