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Rand Paul On Birthright Citizenship: “People Get Carried Away On Whatever The Term Is”

Paul says birthright citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants is an issue that needs to be adjudicated.

Posted on August 31, 2015, at 2:42 p.m. ET

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul says there needs to be a discussion on whether children of undocumented immigrants born in the United States should be considered citizens, adding that people get "carried away" over the term used to describe them.

"I think people get carried away on whatever the term is. I think just have a good discussion on whether or not children of those who came here illegally should be considered to be citizens," Paul told Boston Herald Radio on Monday. "And I'm not sure it's been adjudicated. I think it has to be and it is a problem and I think that we can't have the whole world come."

Two of Paul's opponents, Donald Trump and Jeb Bush, were widely criticized for using the term "anchor baby" to describe the children born in America whose parents are not U.S. citizens. Those children are granted citizenship upon birth under the citizenship clause of the 14th amendment.

"You know we've had a debate over what the 14th amendment applies to. If you read history, the 14th amendment was about African Americans and making sure they and their descendants were citizens," Paul said earlier in the interview. "Without question I support the 14th amendment and am a huge fan in fact of the 14th amendment. But the decision of whether or not you are a citizen, if you are born here, born to illegal aliens, has actually never been decided."

In the same interview, Paul also criticized opponent Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on the issue of immigration. On "Meet the Press" Sunday, Walker said building a wall on the U.S.-Canadian border was a "legitimate issue." Paul called the the wall "a dumb idea."

"That's a pretty dumb idea. There have been a lot of dumb ideas put out," Paul said.

"You know, one that the Mexicans would pay for a wall was probably the dumbest of dumb ideas, but putting up a wall between us and Canada is sort of a ridiculous notion. It's sort of like everybody is now competing to say 'oh no I'll put them in camps, oh no I'll throw them out, oh no I'll put everyone in jail and I'll have an electric fence and I'll do this' and it's like you know the biggest thing we need to do is have a functioning immigration system with a good work program."

Listen to the full interview:

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.