NORRIDGEWOCK — Both of Maine’s U.S. senators said Tuesday they strongly oppose President Donald Trump’s plan to issue an executive order revoking birthright citizenship for the children of noncitizens and unauthorized immigrants born in the U.S.

“I completely disagree with that,” U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said in an interview after a press event and tour of the New Balance athletic shoe company. “If you are born in this country, you are an American. To me it’s that simple.”

Collins said an executive order rescinding birthright citizenship would be subject to a court challenge, and she believes the courts probably would invalidate the order.

U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, also responded in an interview after the event, by saying he was against the president’s proposal. “I’m concerned about any president trying to rewrite the Constitution by themselves,” King said. “That’s not the way our process works. I think there would almost certainly be a lawsuit and the courts will decide. But the 14th Amendment of the Constitution is very clear.”

U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, who was also at Tuesday’s event at the shoe factory, initially said he was not aware of the issue and declined to comment.

“I didn’t see that,” Poliquin said. “I’m focused on the 900 jobs here at New Balance. For me, it’s all about jobs in Maine, keeping our families safe and making sure we have opportunities. We are here to celebrate this win at New Balance.”

Later in the afternoon, a spokesman for Poliquin issued a statement from the congressman that still did not take a position on the president’s executive order, but rather said, “We must be strong on border security, we must make sure those who enter our country do so legally, and we must know who is here in our country.”

He also added, “Certainly any executive order or law must pass Constitutional muster.”

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, was not at Tuesday’s event, which was held outside her congressional district, but her office issued a statement later in the day on Trump’s remarks.

“No President has the power to unilaterally change the constitution, nor should they,” Pingree said. “Just as his claims of passing a tax bill while Congress is out of session were false, President Trump’s comments about American-born children are also untrue.

“One week before an election he has deliberately diverted attention away from his administration’s attempts to undo patient protections for people with pre-existing conditions and their deficit-exploding tax cuts for corporations.”

Trump’s remarks came in an interview with the news website Axios released Tuesday and follow similar hardline immigration rhetoric from the president seen in the weeks leading up to the midterm elections.

“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in, has a baby and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits,” Trump said. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous and it has to end.”

Thirty of the world’s 194 countries, including both Canada and the U.S., have policies of birthright citizenship, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for low levels of immigration.

In remarks with reporters, Collins also addressed the climate of the country in the wake of bombs sent to critics of Trump earlier this month and the shooting of more than a dozen people at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh over the weekend.

“I’m very concerned we seem to have lost a sense of community and caring in this country,” Collins said. “It is never acceptable for violence to be used, whether it’s an attack that happened a year ago from a Bernie Sanders supporter, where he shot the Republican leader in the House, Steve Scalise; or whether it’s pipe bombs being sent to critics of Donald Trump; or whether it’s shooting up a synagogue, a place of worship, in Pittsburgh. It is never acceptable to resort to violence.”

Asked whether she thinks the president has a responsibility to set a better tone for the nation, Collins said, “I think each of us has a responsibility. There is a real problem in our country today, where people are disrespectful to people who have alternative views, and there’s a lack of tolerance for differing points of view.

“Unfortunately, the rhetoric on both sides has been far too heated, and I believe everyone from the president to members of the House and Senate to local and state leaders have an obligation to calm down the rhetoric and remember what unites us as Americans.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.