The tiresome birther issue is back, sort of, with the news that U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R, Texas) will be taking steps to make sure he is American – and nothing else.
Sen. Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, you see, the son of an American mother and a Cuban father. His family moved back to the U.S. when he was still a tyke.
Most of this would not matter at all if Cruz was not now considered a potential presidential candidate. Because technically, he is a dual-national by virtue of being born on Canadian soil – or he certainly could be, if he wanted that status. (Interestingly, some commentators have pointed out this “surprise!” scenario ought to give someone like Cruz more sympathy for those who hope to benefit from the Dream Act.)
Cruz has made much of he fact that he’s an American by birth because of his mother’s U.S. citizenship. No argument there. That was always true for Barack Obama too, who was indisputably born to an American mother in Hawaii – according to legal records, or in Kenya, according to a few conspiracy theorists.
The same bunch that tried to invoke Kenyan law regarding the nationality of Barack Obama might soon be asking if Cruz is also entitled to Cuban citizenship through his father.
This useful summary from the Dallas Morning News illustrates the challenges Cruz faces, as established by his Canadian birth certificate:
Dated a month after his birth on Dec. 22, 1970, it shows that Rafael Edward Cruz was born to Rafael Bienvenido Cruz, a “geophysical consultant” born in Matanzas, Cuba, and the former Eleanor Elizabeth Wilson, born in Wilmington, Del.
Her status made the baby a U.S. citizen at birth. For that, U.S. law required at least one parent who was a U.S. citizen who had lived for at least a decade in the United States.
She registered his birth with the U.S. consulate, Frazier said, and the future senator received a U.S. passport in 1986 ahead of a high school trip to England.
Rafael Cruz, now a pastor in suburban Dallas, fled Cuba for Texas as a teen in 1957. He remained a Cuban citizen until he became a naturalized American in 2005.
Here I would like to state that the debate about where President Obama was born strikes me as silly – and thoroughly settled. This Dallas News editorial looks at the two cases and offered this:
No doubt, some Democrats are thinking it’s payback time for all the headaches that conservatives created for Obama on this issue. A new movement of anti-Cruz birthers almost certainly will try to prod and nitpick in hopes of derailing what is shaping up to be a Cruz bid for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.
This is exhausting and distracting. It’s time to give it a rest and move on to leadership issues that really matter.
Agreed. Yet debate on the meaning of the U.S. Constitution is a rational use of mental and legal energy. Who knows? Maybe some of those provisions should be changed. Qualifications for elected office are an entirely legitimate issue for rational discussion. (Is it still OK to stipulate that presidents must be at least 35 years of age? That senators must be at least 30?) The constitution can be amended to suit current notions of civic need.
As far as the specifics of shedding pesky Canadian citizenship, here’s how to do that, according to the CBC.
Canadian citizens can give up their citizenship as long as they meet the following criteria: they are, or will become, citizens of another country if their application to renounce is approved; they are at least 18 years old; they don’t live in Canada; and they are not considered “a threat to Canada’s security or part of a pattern of criminal activity,” according to Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).
The CIC rules add that you also must “understand the significance” of what you’re doing.
Ted Cruz appears to meet those requirements. Here’s how he would go about it:
- Fill out and send the “Application to Renounce Canadian Citizenship.”
- Pay a $100 application fee.
- Wait. If it’s a routine application and he doesn’t forget to include any required document, it should take about four months. He can even check the status of his application on the CIC website.
- CIC may advise Cruz he “may have to be interviewed by a citizenship judge.” Since he has a residence in Washington, a Canadian embassy official would contact him with information about how the interview will be conducted.
If Cruz’s application is approved, CIC will send him a certificate of renunciation.
I think most would agree that dual (triple?) citizenship is problematic or undesirable for high elected office. Senator Cruz self-identifies as American-only, and can be accepted as such. But technical questions do exist.
I’d be interested in respectful comments about what you think “natural born citizen” means in current law?
Does that differ from what you want it to mean?