Since immigration is a hot-button issue for many voters -- and an important one for the country -- it's neither surprising nor inappropriate for President Trump to place it at the center of his midterm election campaign.

It's a subject worthy of thoughtful debate. Reasonable people feel differently about current policy and what changes ought to be made.

Some of the president's claims in his campaign to clamp down on immigrants, however, need to be called out as either false or highly dubious.

Trump declared that no other nation has birthright citizenship.

"We're the only country in the world where a person can come in and have a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years, with all those benefits. It's ridiculous. And it has to end," he said.

In fact, a person's citizenship is based on where they were born in no fewer than 30 other nations. They include Canada, Mexico and almost every nation in South and Central America.

Although most European countries don't have the same birthright citizenship policy as the U.S., many have laws that allow children born from foreign parents to acquire citizenship after only a few years of residency.

Trump said he could nullify birthright citizenship with an executive order.

The 14th amendment to the Constitution states, "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."

The consensus among legal scholars is that Trump cannot change that provision by presidential action unilaterally. They maintain constitutional amendments can be changed only by a two-thirds vote in both houses of Congress or through a constitutional convention called by two-thirds of state legislatures.

Also rejecting Trump's opinion were several Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan.

"You obviously can't do that," Ryan said. "I'm a believer in following the plain text of the Constitution, and I think in this case, the 14th Amendment is pretty clear."

The president, however, said he has received legal advice that he has the authority to make the change and slammed Ryan on Twitter: "Paul Ryan should be focusing on holding the majority rather than giving his opinions on birthright citizenship, something he knows nothing about!"

Trump said he thinks philanthropist and Democratic donor George Soros may be funding the caravan "invasion" of Central American migrants.

While rumors have circulated for months on right-wing websites that Soros was helping illegal immigrants get into the U.S., neither Trump nor anyone else has offered any evidence that Soros has given the migrant caravan a dime.

Asked this week if there was any truth to rumors that Soros was providing them money, Trump said, "I wouldn't be surprised, yeah. A lot of people say yes."

His comment came only a few days after Soros was one of the people targeted in a pipe bomb plot, allegedly organized by Cesar Sayoc, an avid Trump supporter.

Trump said almost all immigrants fail to show up for court hearings once they enter the U.S.

"We're letting them into our country, and then they never show up, almost. It's like a level of 3 percent," he said.

In the 2017 fiscal year, 72 percent of all immigrants showed up for their hearings, The New York Times reported. Among asylum seekers, 89 percent showed up. And in a pilot program tested as an alternative to detention, 100 percent did. His administration ended that program last June.

Trump said Democrats are to blame for blocking efforts to change immigration laws.

"We can't get any Democrat votes to change them. It's only the Republicans in unison that want to change them," he said.

When the president last February sought to remove protections for young immigrants, the Republican-controlled Senate voted down three proposals. Fourteen GOP senators voted against the one supported by the White House.

In June, the Republican-controlled House voted down a zero-tolerance immigration bill backed by the White House. Forty-one Republicans cast votes against it.

Yes, we know Trump's current attack on immigration is designed to help elect Republicans on Tuesday.

But Americans across the political spectrum agree with him about not allowing unfettered immigration and doing more to keep bad actors from entering the U.S. I think most also agree that the steep rise in asylum claims -- a record 330,000 last year, the most for any nation -- suggests the need for reviewing that policy.

The president would do himself and his party a favor if he made his case without playing so loose with the facts.

Reach Steve Wilson at

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