Attention birthers! By your logic, Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz is not be eligible to run for president …
Ted Cruz, the hot-as-fire, right wing, newly-elected Senator who is already being touted by some as a future presidential candidate from Texas, was born in Canada.
To, of all things, a Canadian father and an American mother.
Hmm. Foreign father; American mother; actual non-American birth … where have I heard this before?
This time, though, I bet the powers-that-be in the birther movement will decide that the same analysis that proves that Barack Obama would have been a natural-born American citizen even had he been born in Kenya (which he wasn’t), magically allows Cruz to be eligible for president.
The Nationality Act of 1940 outlined which children became “nationals and citizens of the United States at birth.” The law stated that a person is a U.S. citizen if he or she were born in United States; born outside the U.S. to parents who were both citizens; found in the United States without parents and no proof of birth elsewhere; or if a person has been born to one American parent, provided that parent has spent a certain number of years in the United States.
The single-American parent requirement has been amended a few times, said UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh. As it applies to people born between 1952 and 1986, they must have a parent who was a U.S. citizen for at least 10 years, including five after the age of 14, in order for the baby to be considered a natural-born citizen.
(Note: Volokh calls himself a friend of Cruz and has known him since the 1990s*. However, Volokh also made the same conclusion about eligibility in 2008, when writing about Barack Obama.)
So how does all of this apply to Ted Cruz?
Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, came to the U.S. in 1957 to study at the University of Texas. He did not become a U.S. citizen until 2005.
Cruz’s mother, Eleanor Darragh, was born in Delaware and later moved to Houston. She graduated from Rice University in 1956. By virtue of being born in the United States, she is a citizen. Because she spent most of her life before Ted Cruz was born in the U.S., he also qualified as U.S. citizen at birth.
“Ted Cruz didn’t naturalize. He was natural at birth,” said Spiro, the Temple professor.
Spiro said it’s possible that a person could challenge that the laws granting citizenship at birth do not define what it is to be a natural-born citizen. In fact, the phrase “natural-born citizen” is only used once in the U.S. Code — in Article 2 of the Constitution. Such a challenge would be unlikely to change the current definitions, however, he said.
What about those other guys?
Cruz’s situation probably falls somewhere between Obama and McCain in terms of how complicated they are to explain.
Obama was born in Hawaii in 1961, two years after Hawaii became a state. His citizenship is spelled out by the 14th Amendment.
Cruz was born outside the U.S., but according to rules set out by the U.S. Code, he was a U.S. citizen from birth.
McCain was born outside the U.S., but not in another country — the Panama Canal Zone was an unincorporated U.S. territory in 1936. Legal theories differ on how that affected his eligibility. McCain was also born before laws were passed granting citizenship at birth to babies born in the Panama Canal Zone.
For what it’s worth, Congress in 2008 passed a nonbinding resolution declaring that McCain was eligible to run for president, and a lawsuit challenging McCain’s eligibility in 2008 filed New Hampshire was thrown out for lack of standing.
Bottom line: Despite being born in Canada, Cruz can be considered a natural-born U.S. citizen because his mother was also a U.S. citizen who lived in the United States long enough for him to qualify, according to constitutional experts.
Let the games begin!