Fact check: A viral tweet about Ivana Trump's children's birthright citizenship.


Law student Denizcan Grimes tweeted about the the birth right citizenship of the first lady of the U.S. He claimed the following:

Denizcan Grimes on Twitter

Ivana Trump wasn’t a US citizen until 1988. She gave birth to Don Jr in 1977, Ivanka in 1981, and Eric in 1984. Let’s cancel their birthright citizenship first.

Claim 1 – Year when Ivana became a citizen

“Ivana Trump wasn’t a US citizen until 1988.”

Fact Check: True

This claim is true, according to the May 27, 1988 edition of the Lewiston Journal.

A CNN report about Trump’s immigrant wives mentioned that “[Ivana] and Trump married in 1977, but she didn’t become an American citizen for another 11 years.”

Claim 2 – Donald Trump’s children’s birth years

“She gave birth to Don Jr in 1977, Ivanka in 1981, and Eric in 1984.”

Fact check: True

This claim is true. Donald Trump Jr. — Donald and Ivana Trump’s first child — was born in 1977, according to a Business Insider report, followed by Ivanka in 1981, according to the Daily Mail, and Eric in 1984, according to Newsweek.

Claim 3 – Donald Trump’s children’s citizenship

Donald Trump’s children would not be citizens, had his proposed policy changes been in effect when they were born.

Fact check: False

We have to understand that this tweet was not a simple factual claim about the dates of birth of Trump’s ex-wife and their children.  A tweet about that would not have gone viral.  The core message of the tweet is implicit in the last line: “Let’s cancel their birthright citizenship first.”

It can be a dangerous business to extrapolate a meaning, but the clear meaning of this tweet has to be that the birthright citizenship of Donald Trump’s children would not be valid under Trump’s proposed policy changes to birthright citizenship.  Otherwise, the suggestion that Trump is somehow being hypocritical or that this would have affected his life, is false.

Legal Context of the Claim:

President Trump has thus said that he intends to issue an executive order changing longstanding policy, which holds that anyone born on US soil (other than some narrow exceptions for diplomats, etc.) is automatically a US citizen.

His critics have claimed that this would necessarily override the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment, which states that “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.”

This would remove or alter jus soli (Latin: “right of the soil”), the right of citizenship of any individual born in the United States. If these suggested changes had been implemented at the time of their births, Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric Trump would have no claim to jus soli.

However, they would still have the right to American citizenship under jus sanguinis (Latin: “right of blood”). 8 U.S. Code § 1431 (2000) states that “a child born outside of the United States automatically becomes a citizen of the United States when all of the following conditions have been fulfilled:

  1. At least one parent of the child is a citizen of the United States, whether by birth or naturalization.
  2. The child is under the age of eighteen years.
  3. The child is residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence.”

Therefore, because Trump’s children would not be affected by the proposed changes, the tweet is, in this third claim, false.

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