- - Thursday, January 14, 2016

Before I decided to support Ted Cruz for president last March, I did my own research on whether he is a “natural born citizen” and thus eligible to run for and be elected to the highest office in the land. I first looked to the U.S. Constitution, which says a president must be a “natural born citizen,” but does not define the term. Then I looked to laws passed by Congress and found the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1952, which only requires for U.S. citizenship that one parent of a child be a U.S. citizen if that child is born outside the Unites States. Any reasonable person would conclude such an individual to be a “natural born citizen.”

Ever since that time I have been fighting “birthers,” unreasonable people who, to my amazement, do not consider someone who is a U.S. citizen at birth to be a “natural born citizen.” One such “birther” challenged me about the above-referenced legislation, saying it is an immigration law. Yes, it is, but Congress understood that it had to define a U.S. citizen at the time of his or her birth in order to exempt that individual from “naturalized citizen” status. To justify his stance, the “birther” with whom I was arguing pointed to judicial decisions made around the time the Constitution was written.

The U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1789. I found the text of the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1790, which reads as follows: “And the children of citizens of the United States that may be born beyond Sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as Natural Born Citizens.”

It could not be clearer what our Founding Fathers meant when they wrote the words “natural born citizen” in the Constitution, since many of those who drafted the document — including James Madison, the “Father of the Constitution” — were members of the first Congress.

Again, however, the “birther” I was debating did not want to accept those words.


Newport News, Va.

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