Sen.Ted Cruz wants to be all-American

Sen. Ted Cruz delivering the keynote address at the 2013 CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) meeting. Photo: Office of Sen. Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz delivering the keynote address at the 2013 CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) meeting. Photo: Office of Sen. Cruz

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.

This will revive the whole merry-go-round of what the U.S. Constitution means by restricting the office of president to “natural-born” citizens and does Sen. Cruz meet that standard?

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?

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37 Comments on “Sen.Ted Cruz wants to be all-American”

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  1. hermit thrush says:

    i think “natural born citizen” means you’re a citizen from the moment you’re born. full stop. that means obama is a natural born citizen. it means that ted cruz is a natural born citizen.

    it would be great if this ted cruz stuff finally puts all the birth certificate nonsense to rest, but i’d be damned surprised if it did.

  2. I was under the impression that natural born citizen meant you were born on American soil, which would disqualify Cruz.

  3. hermit thrush says:

    from wikipedia, citing a 2011 congressional research service report:

    The weight of legal and historical authority indicates that the term “natural born” citizen would mean a person who is entitled to U.S. citizenship “by birth” or “at birth”, either by being born “in” the United States and under its jurisdiction, even those born to alien parents; by being born abroad to U.S. citizen-parents; or by being born in other situations meeting legal requirements for U.S. citizenship “at birth”.

  4. dave says:

    Conservative extremists ran amok with this silly issue, and now that progressives have an opportunity to pay them back… they are likely going to take the high road instead. That right there tells you something about the differences between the two sides.

  5. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    ht is absolutely correct and dave is correct that liberals/progressives have no interest in attacking on this issue — except maybe for some small amount of personal amusement watching Conservatives turn themselves inside out.

    There is little doubt the Supreme Court would rule that a person elected President who was entitled to US citizenship at birth meets the criteria to hold office. That includes Ted Cruz, or John McCain. It would not include Arnold Schwarzenegger, who some Republicans wanted to amend the Constitution for so that he could run for President.

  6. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Being so certain of facts does spoil all the fun of speculation, though. Consider a child who is conceived by an American father and a non-US mother. At the time of conception the child would be American, but if the father dies before the baby is born and the mother marries a non-US man would the baby be an American?

  7. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    And what about Cubans who escape the island and land on American shores? They’re automatically Americans right? So does that make them natural citizens by anti-communist and seafaring proxy?

  8. Pete Klein says:

    If all goes well for the Democrats, the Republicans will once again load up the clown car with contenders for the presidency.

  9. Mayflower says:

    Wait a minute. Are you folks saying that Papa Cruz came to this country without getting in line and observing the Rule of Law? …that Papa was old enough to help row the boat, so he didn’t even qualify as a DREAMER? …that Papa lived in America for 50 years, taking our jobs and milking our system, as an ILLEGAL?

    Gosh, does that make Ted an ANCHOR BABY?

  10. Lucy Martin says:

    Hold on Mayflower, those charges seem unwarranted and unfair.

    I am guessing here, but presumably the father, Rafael Bienvenido Cruz, was able to come to the US openly and legally as the husband and father of natural US citizens. Furthermore, it’s a whole different story for Cubans than for other Hispanics hoping to come to the US. (Cubans get special/faster opportunities for Green Cards, etc.) I doubt this family’s move was illegal.

    But I will say that Ted Cruz seems to have been willfully ignorant – or he’s a very poor lawyer – if he never realized he might be a dual national until recently.

  11. Mayflower says:

    Not “charging,” Lucy. Just musing a bit. First, since we are told that Papa “escaped” in 1957, as a teenager, I guess he might have already married a lady from Delaware and sired a son, then made his way to Canada in time for the birth but that seems a bit doubtful. I guess he might have made his way to Canada and then acquired an American wife and child…but that seems to creep back toward Anchor Baby Land.

    Since this kind of talk makes us both sound, yikes, like Donald Trump, let us conclude with a resounding “who cares?”

    More seriously, though, we might muse about the whole Fast-Track-for-Cuba/ Barbed-Wire-for-Mexico Principle that you reference. Why is that? Do we think that escaping a dictator who seized private property is more meritorious than escaping drug cartels that chop off heads? It seems to me that Cubans and Mexicans cross our borders for pretty similar reasons: seeking safety and opportunity for themselves and their families.

    What makes one border crossing legal and the other one a crime?

    Answer: A vote in Congress.
    …I wonder how Mr. Cruz will vote.

  12. Jim Bullard says:

    As with anything there are questions. For example John McCain’s Panama birth was said during his campaign to qualify because his parents were in Panama as representatives of the US (I believe his father was there on military duty). So if one is simply and ex-pat and chooses to live in another country for what ever reason, say a person who decides to go to Paris to be an artist, lives there for a decade and returns after having a child there, is that child a “natural born” US citizen? What if the child stayed in France with his/her French parent until he/she was an adult? How far does it get stretched?

    For myself it’s a silly question in the case of Ted Cruz. If he’s a US citizen and his allegiance is to this country, whether he has rights to claim Canadian citizenship as well is irrelevant as far as I’m concerned. OTOH I think it wouldn’t hurt if the definition in the constitution were refined a bit if only to eliminate these distracting debates from our politics.

  13. Hank says:

    Jim says: “…I think it wouldn’t hurt if the definition in the constitution were refined a bit if only to eliminate these distracting debates from our politics.”

    Out of curiosity, how would this refinement be brought about? Would a ruling by the US Supreme Court be sufficient or would it require an amendment to the Constitution (ie. ratification by 2/3 of the states)?

  14. Lucy Martin says:

    Among other functions, the US Supreme Court is empowered to interpret the Constitution.
    (For example: What does the language of the 2nd amendment mean?)

    Changing the Constitution requires successfully going through the amendment process. This is from the official website of the US Supreme Court:

    “When the Supreme Court rules on a constitutional issue, that judgment is virtually final; its decisions can be altered only by the rarely used procedure of constitutional amendment or by a new ruling of the Court. However, when the Court interprets a statute, new legislative action can be taken.”

  15. mervel says:

    The more interesting thing is that this guy actually thinks he is a Presidential contender.

  16. JDM says:

    I guess we know who the left fears.

  17. Lake Champlainer says:

    I am sure the GOP, with their strong emphasis on objective discussion and human rights, will treat Mr. Cruz’s birth with the same level of professionalism and nuance as they did with Mr. Obama’s birth.

    As JDM says below, liberals really FEAR a Ted Cruz presidential run. There is nothing that makes liberals shudder more than the thought of a Ted Cruz/ Michelle Bachmann ticket.

  18. hermit thrush says:

    good one, jdm! ha ha ha!

  19. JDM says:

    Lefties don’t care about Chris Christie’s weight, or Jeb Bush’s family ties.


    Because they are losers. Just like McCain and Romney. They are heroes of the left, because they cannot win.

    But a conservative like Cruz. Watch out.

    He is dangerous and must be destroyed before he gains any traction.

  20. hermit thrush says:

    stop it jdm! ha ha ha! you’re killing us here!

  21. Mervel says:

    Who knows?

    I think a Jeb Bush/Christie run would be great, I would vote for that ticket. Both of those guys are smart and experienced and very balanced.

  22. Paul says:

    So he is a communist? That is something that passes paternally right? Who would have thought!

  23. The Original Larry says:

    Wow, a Conservative Hispanic candidate! Can’t have that, now can we? Would opposing him be racism or is that reserved for those who oppose Liberal minorities?

  24. DaleFromCalgary says:

    What’s the big deal? Chester Arthur was a Canadian by birth, after all.

  25. Lucy Martin says:

    Here’s more on the question of President Chester Arthur’s place of birth from a trivia site called “Cool Quiz”.

  26. Paul says:

    That is pretty good. I bet most American’s wouldn’t even know who Chester Arthur was if you asked. They say there is a “marker” in Vermont where he was born. Have we found the “marker” in Hawaii where President Obama was born???? I certainly have seen no such marker? Wait a minute I think we need a new committee to look into the lack of the marker!! Perhaps we can put Mr. Trump on this.

  27. JDM says:

    mervel: “I think a Jeb Bush/Christie run would be great”

    Me too. On the Democratic ticket!

  28. mervel says:

    Your kidding JDM.

    Christie may be a little moderate for the Party, but come on Jeb Bush has a solid reputation, is smart and has actually ran a large state, the same goes for Christie. Cruz is Ok I guess, but the guy has not done very much, he does not seem overly talented. I don’t know what you would find wrong about Bush’s conservative views?

  29. mervel says:

    Also Cruz just seems kind of weird, this Canadian stuff, I mean come on he is already acting strange, no telling what would come out in an actual tough election. Christie and Bush have already been through the wringer. It’s one thing to be a conservative in Texas like Cruz but its easy; try taking on New Jersey Unions as a Republican in New Jersey and winning. That is the kind of no nonsense person we need right now.

  30. Marlo Stanfield says:

    I don’t think Christie would be a bad president. Politics aside, he’s shown he has the managerial skills, and he doesn’t back down from a tough fight. And I know this is a bit chauvinistic, but it would be nice to see someone from the Northeast in the White House for a change.

    There seems to be a strain in Republican thought that the reason they’re not in more offices is because they’re not conservative enough. That always amused me. There’s a reason power keeps shifting back and forth — it’s because we’re a moderate country. The average opinion is left of the Republican platform but right of the Democratic one. If we were really just conservatives waiting for a pure conservative savior, then Doug Hoffman would be our congressman and Michelle Bachman would be president. Didn’t work out that way.

  31. Mervel says:

    I think that is true Marlo.

    Now I don’t believe a traditional moderate will work for the Republicans anymore. In some ways moderate has now for Republicans become a toxic word, much like Liberal became for Democrats, who today rarely if ever refer to themselves as Liberal.

    I think to get this out of their system though they need to put up a real right wing conservative. You see the thinking goes that G. W. Bush won twice, Reagan won twice both pretty conservative, and we have McCain, Dole, Ford etc, traditional moderates all losing.

  32. Mervel says:

    I think it would be good for the country and good for the Republican Party to nominate a true Tea Party person this time around. Lets really put this to bed, or not. Personally I think it would be a total wipe-out. The Democrats had to go through McGovern and Mondale and Dukakis to get to a Clinton.

  33. The Original Larry says:

    “The Democrats had to go through McGovern and Mondale and Dukakis to get to a Clinton.”

    So the Republicans should forget about anyone with personal integrity and find someone completely without shame who will do and say anything to get elected?

  34. Marlo Stanfield says:

    I hear what you’re saying Mervel, maybe it would be good if a Tea Party type got nominated, flamed out and maybe that could put the brakes on the race to the right.

    I’ve got to quibble with the Reagan analogy a little bit, though. Reagan was a conservative, but he was able to work with people who had different views. Tip O’Neill, pretty much the epitome of the New Deal upbringing big government Democrat politician, was Speaker of the House when Reagan was president, and they were able to reach agreements and get legislation passed. I don’t feel the same spirit of bipartisanship in the Tea Party crop in Congress today. Beating the other side seems to be thought of as more important than doing the job of governing. The people who call Reagan a hero would be primarying him if he was running for office today.

  35. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Reagan was a great guy, except that he ratted out his friends to the FBI, was in the pocket of major corporations, acted in concert with J. Edgar Hoover to suppress the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley, played both sides of the Iran/Iraq War and started a secret war in Afghanistan – those wars still playing out on the world stage today. So, yes, Reagan was able to work with people of different views, like Saddam Hussein.

  36. Marlo Stanfield says:

    I didn’t say I thought Reagan was a great guy. I said he was better at working with the opposition and making compromises than most Tea Party politicians are, or a Tea Party president would be. That Reagan was able to accomplish much of what he wanted to do despite having a Democratic congress demonstrates that.

  37. mervel says:

    Yes I agree Margo, these new guys are not like Reagan in many ways. Reagan was able to work with people to make deals, he was able to work with the Soviets. Can you imagine these Tea Party types in the context of the Cold war? They would have been a big big problem.

    In some ways it would be good for the country though to give these guys a chance to make the case, put a true tea party candidate up there, let him or her make the case and we will see if the Republicans are conservative enough to win? They don’t have the numbers but it will lead to them really looking at what conservatism means, it does not mean guns or being stupid or being on reality TV. It may bring them back to a real winning combination.

    OL I have the same issues with Clinton’s character that you do, but I also recognize he was very smart, a very good politician AND he moved the Democratic Party to the Right, making very good deals with the Republicans on a variety of issues we care about.

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