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Missouri GOP Senate hopeful Hawley opposes ‘chain migration’

October 31, 2018

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri’s Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley on Wednesday did not say whether he supports President Donald Trump’s calls to end the right to citizenship for babies born to non-U.S. citizens on American soil but said he backs stopping “chain migration.”

Trump is focusing on border issues as Tuesday’s pivotal midterm elections approach, including the tight race between Hawley and Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. The president, who will campaign for Hawley on Thursday and Monday in Missouri, now is considering an executive action to curtail the Constitution’s guarantee of birthright citizenship , even though most legal scholars say that would require a constitutional amendment.

Hawley did not directly answer reporters’ questions on Wednesday over whether he also supports ending birthright citizenship. But he said the issue that Trump is targeting is chain migration, a term the president has used to describe immigrants’ ability to sponsor relatives to join them in the U.S. Hawley said he also opposes that family-based immigration. Trump has said U.S. immigration should be more based on merit than family.

“The flood of immigrants, illegal and otherwise, (is) exerting downward pressure on wages, and chain migration is a part of that,” Hawley said. “We need to end it.”

The Missouri race could play a role in Republicans’ now slim 51-49 control of the Senate. McCaskill is among 10 Senate Democratic incumbents up for re-election in states won by Trump, who achieved victory in Missouri by nearly 19 percentage points in 2016.

McCaskill in a Wednesday statement said she doesn’t believe “any President can change the Constitution through executive order.”

Scholars widely pan the idea that Trump could unilaterally change the rules on who is a citizen. It’s highly questionable whether an act of Congress could do it, either, though it is conceivable that legislators could change the rules regarding children born in the U.S. of parents who are in the country illegally.

Hawley, the state attorney general who touts himself as a constitutional lawyer, on Wednesday said “of course” the Constitution cannot be changed by an executive order or congressional action, but he said Congress and possibly Trump could act to change the naturalization process.

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