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Where the GOP 2016 candidates stand on birthright citizenship

With his call to "end birthright citizenship," Donald Trump reignited a debate the GOP establishment didn't want to have. Here's where the 2016 hopefuls stand.

With his call over the weekend to "end birthright citizenship," Donald Trump reignited a political debate over whether children born in the United States should be denied citizenship if their parents are undocumented immigrants.

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton spoke about the issue on Tuesday, after a town hall event in Las Vegas. "The idea that we would amend our constitution to do away with citizenship by birth is absolutely the wrong direction to go," she said.

Here's where the 2016 GOP contenders stand on the issue:


Donald Trump: "This remains the biggest magnet for illegal immigration," he said in his immigration proposal.

Rand Paul: "This resolution makes clear that under the 14th Amendment a person born in the United States to illegal aliens does not automatically gain citizenship," he said in 2011 about a constitutional amendment he proposed with Sen. David Vitter.

Rick Santorum: "Other enticements to illegal immigration, such as birthright citizenship, should be ended… Of developed countries other than the United States, only Canada has birthright citizenship," he wrote back in May.

Lindsey Graham: "Birthright citizenship I think is a mistake," he said in 2010. "We should change our Constitution and say if you come here illegally and you have a child, that child's automatically not a citizen." (He added to Kasie Hunt on Monday: "I've been saying for a long time that I'm willing to change birthright citizenship after we fix the current broken immigration system.")

Chris Christie: "I think all this stuff needs to be reexamined in light of the current circumstances," he told Laura Ingraham this month. "[Birthright citizenship] may have made sense at some point in our history, but right now, we need to re-look at all that."

Bobby Jindal: "We need to end birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants," he tweeted.

Scott Walker: When asked by MSNBC's Kasie Hunt whether birthright citizenship should be ended, he replied "Yeah, to me it's about enforcing the laws in this country." But Walker later appeared to walk it back: When asked if he misspoke on birthright citizenship, Walker said, per NBC's Shaquille Brewster: "No, we had a three hour rolling gaggle there. It's— you answer part of the question, somebody turns and asks you something. My point is, yeah I empathize with people who have concerns about that but until we fundamentally secure the border."


Marco Rubio: "I'm not in favor repealing the 14th Amendment, but I am open to exploring ways of not allowing people who are coming here deliberately for that purpose to acquire citizenship," Rubio said on Tuesday.

Jeb Bush: "Look this is a constitutionally protected right, I don't support revoking it," Bush said on Tuesday.

George Pataki: "I don't support amending the Constitution to kick out kids who were born here," he said on MSNBC on Tuesday.

Carly Fiorina: "It would take passing a constitutional amendment to get that changed. It's part of our 14th Amendment. So honestly, I think we should put all of our energies, all of our political will into finally getting the border secured and fixing the legal immigration," she told Kelly O'Donnell on Monday.


John Kasich: Back in 2010, said he supported amending the Constitution to end birthright citizenship.

But in more recent interviews, he has explained that he has switched his position.

Kasich told NBC News on Tuesday: "I frankly didn't know as much about it [then]. You stick your name on a bill when you're in Congress and they come at you left and right. But look, I don't think we need to go there at this point... I am at the point now where I am extremely concerned about efforts that divide us in this country. And I am more interested in the kinds of things that can unite us. And we have bigger fish to fry frankly in my opinion, than that issue and that's getting the wall done; making sure that if people violated the law who are here that they are punished for it. But if you've been law-abiding, we're gonna welcome you to a path of legalization. You will pay a fine, there will be a penalty, it'll take time but I think that's the right way to go."