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Hoax Alert

Fake News: Trump Did NOT Strip Citizenship from Children of Immigrants (Yet), Did NOT Disqualify Himself from Presidency

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Wed, 31 Oct 2018 00:03:17 Z)

Did Donald Trump legally disqualify himself from being eligible for the office of President of the United States after stripping citizenship from children of immigrants because his own mother was Scottish? No, that's not true: a satirical article made a twisted interpretation of an executive order which doesn't even exist yet, it is not real.

The story originated from an article published by The Borowitz Report on October 30, 2018 titled "Trump Strips Citizenship from Children of Immigrants, Thus Disqualifying Himself from Presidency" (archived here) which opened:

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)--Donald J. Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order stripping the children of immigrant mothers of their citizenship, thus disqualifying himself from being President of the United States.

The constitutional crisis came to light moments after the signing ceremony, when a fourth grader visiting the Oval Office on a school tour pointed out the far-reaching legal ramifications of the order.

"Hey, wait, wasn't your mother from Scotland?" the student, Tracy Klugian, asked. "That means you're not a citizen and you can't be President."

Screenshot of https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/trump-strips-citizenship-from-children-of-immigrants-thus-disqualifying-himself-from-presidency

Users on social media only saw this title, description and thumbnail so they may have confused it with real news:

Trump Strips Citizenship from Children of Immigrants, Thus Disqualifying Himself from Presidency

The constitutional crisis came to light moments after a fourth grader visiting the Oval Office on a school tour pointed out the far-reaching legal ramifications of the order.

It is a piece of satire criticizing Trump's recently announced intention to terminate birtright citizenship whereby everyone born on U.S. soil automatically gets citizenship:

Exclusive: Trump to terminate birthright citizenship

He has run the idea by his counsel.

Trump announced he planned to do this by executive order but so far no such order has actually been made public and consequently it hasn't been signed either so it is definitely too early to tell what the effects and consequences would be since it is not even clear what the new rules for citizenship would be. Would it be inherited through one parent? Both parents? Only a parent of a single gender?

The fact that Trump's mother was Scottish probably would not disqualify him (even if the new rule was to be applied retroactively, which isn't even certain yet). Trump's father and grandfather where U.S. citizens so that would probably make him one too under the new rules. The article also has former President Obama mocking Trump for having a non-citizen mother, unlike him. Of course if the fictional rule in the article would apply Obama's Kenyan father would probably also disqualify him, unless the rule would be that citizenship is inherited only from the mother.

But all of that is hypothetical: the story actually appeared in the satire column of The New Yorker ("The Borowitz Report" by Andy Borowitz) which was acquired in 2012 by the magazine. Although the section with the columns and all the articles in it are clearly marked as satire the stories frequently get confused for real news by people who only see the title and summary on social media and who assume it must be real because the link goes to the actual website of The New Yorker. To them it would look somewhat like this, with an easy to miss "Not the news" being the only indication it is not real:

In part to combat this the main page of The Borowitz Report comes with a clear heading that simply states:

Satire from the Borowitz Report


To be safe, whenever you see a link that goes to any article on the "newyorker.com" website, always check if the rest of the link says "/humor/borowitz-report/" somewhere. If it does, don't believe a thing you read...

NewsGuard, a company that uses trained journalist to rank the reliability of websites, describes newyorker.com as:

The website of the celebrated weekly magazine The New Yorker. The site publishes news, reviews, investigative reports, and critical commentary about international politics, culture, and New York City events, as well as poetry, fiction, videos and podcasts, satire, and cartoons. Its political content is usually liberal in tone and outlook.

According to NewsGuard the site can generally be trusted to maintain journalistic standards. Read their full assessment here.

We wrote about newyorker.com before, here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

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About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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