WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said Wednesday that the United States shouldn't automatically grant citizenship to children of immigrants in the country illegally.
The Texas senator is the latest White House hopeful to weigh in the debate that has divided the GOP 2016 presidential class since billionaire businessman Donald Trump outlined his opposition to "birthright citizenship" as part of his immigration plan earlier in the week.
Cruz said he "absolutely" favors ending automatic citizenship to those born in the country, as guaranteed in the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
"We should end granting automatic birthright citizenship to the children of those who are here illegally," Cruz said in a Wednesday radio interview with the Michael Medved Show.
"That has been my position from my very first days of my running for the Senate," he continued. "I welcome Donald Trump articulating this this view. It's a view I have long held."
The "birthright citizenship" debate has exposed a new rift among the GOP's large presidential field, highlighting the eagerness of some conservatives to tap into Trump's share of the electorate.
Several candidates have spoken in favor of leaving the constitutional protection in place since Trump outlined his immigration plan earlier in the week, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former technology executive Carly Fiorina, and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Another group of Republicans, like Cruz and Trump, are calling for the Constitution to be changed to remove the incentive for immigrants who enter the country illegally to have children. Those opposed include Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who reversed his position in April on allowing a chance for legal status for those in the country illegally, gave mixed answers this week when asked about ending birthright citizenship.