If you haven’t heard, things are heating up in American politics. Ted Cruz, a rising star in the Republican party, is making headway. What could put the brakes on him? Donald Trump. Donald Trump, notorious for wealth and excess, is running against Ted Cruz and making waves. Planting the seed that foreign-born Cruz may not be legally eligible to be President, the debate is just getting underway.
Ted Cruz was born on Canadian soil to a Canadian-born father and a mother who is a naturalized citizen of the United States. In any other time there would be no debate about his eligibility, but with the highest office in the land up for grabs, it could lead to a big fight ahead.
Cruz isn’t the first politician in America’s history where the legality of his run has been questioned. Other hopefuls such as John McCain and Mitt Romney’s father, were all citizens born on foreign soil. Even Barack Obama was the subject of scandal when opponents believed his birth record, not being on file, was a conspiracy. Allegations persisted that he wasn’t born in Hawaii as he claimed until he provided physical proof with a birth certificate.
There are only three ways that you can become a natural born citizen according to the US constitution. You can be born to naturalized citizens, you can be born on US soil to parents who don’t necessarily have to be US citizens, or you can be both. Otherwise, you aren’t a natural born citizen and are not eligible for running for the leader of the “free world”.
What then is the debate?
The debate seems to be waged by another candidate who fears that Cruz may be making a viable charge for the presidency. Donald Trump is no stranger to causing controversy; he was the one who led the charge to get Obama to release his birth certificate to the public. After badgering and calling him out for months, it was finally released to Trump’s dismay.
The biggest problem is that there is growing unrest in America over immigration. The debate about what to do with those who enter the US illegally has turned into one of the biggest platforms from which Trump can jump off of, so it naturally would follow that he would see significant opportunity using an immigration angle on the Cruz campaign.
When it comes to the definitions outlined in the constitution, constitutional scholars admit that there is some gray area when it comes to those who are born outside of the United States. The constitution speaks of a child born to the “parents,” not the parent, of a US citizen. Cruz was born on Canadian soil to not two naturalized citizens, but one. His father is a citizen of Canada, which is where the technicality could be debated from.
Having dual citizenship can cause a lot of problems for Mr. Cruz. The constitution is very specific about the term natural born citizen. They included it into the original doctrine in 1787 with good reason.
The founders knew that it could be possible for any foreign agents to come to America, and to claim ownership of it if they didn’t put certain checks and balances on who could rule the land and make decisions over it.
By putting in the natural born citizen restriction, they knew that someone would have to be a second generation immigrant to rule the land. It wasn’t meant to discriminate; it was intended to protect a nation who was used to seeing territorial takeovers that happened on a dime. In fact, at the time, it was a well thought out and necessary tool to protect the homeland.
Due to the massive influx of immigration due to war zones, starvation, and political unrest, new questions have been brought to the forefront of many political debates around the globe, not just in America. Trying to save one’s way of life, the character of their country, and to protect land, these types of challenges have to exist to ensure the integrity of a nation.
When used for political posturing, however, it does nothing for the cause of the country. It is just a game of tit for tat. No one believes that Mr. Cruz is an agent for Canada looking to resettle Canadian rule, he is just a man who is trying to run the country he loves. Well within the confines of legal, this is one debate that will likely be nothing more than smoke and mirrors fabricated by an opponent who is looking for a horse and pony show.
Author Bio: Robert Rhodes, criminal defense attorney Seattle Washington.