A major consideration within American politics is the eligibility requirements of the President, in particular, the question of the “natural born” citizenship requirement. The Constitution does not specifically mention what it means to be a natural born citizen, which has raised numerous questions among Constitutional experts and Presidential historians as to what exactly makes someone a natural born citizen. In recent weeks, there has emerged several issues regarding Ted Cruz’s eligibility to the Presidency because he was born in Canada to a Cuban father and American mother. Cruz has argued that there are no Constitutional barriers that prevent him from running for President. On the other hand, rival candidates for the Republican nomination such as Donald Trump have claimed that Cruz is not a natural born citizen as is, therefore, ineligible to serve as President under the Constitutional guidelines. Despite the allegations to the contrary, it can be argued that Ted Cruz is a natural born US citizen and qualified to run for President.
The Constitution directly addresses the qualifications necessary for someone to serve as President in Article II, Section 1, Clause 5. In addition to being a resident of the United States for a minimum of 14 years and being at least 35 years old, the Constitution mentions that the Presidency is to be filled by a natural born citizen of the United States. The definition of what exactly makes someone a natural born citizen is not specifically addressed in the Constitution and was not addressed before the passage of the Naturalization Act of 1790. The purpose of the Naturalization Act was to put forward the rules of granting citizenship would occur and clarify any remaining questions regarding United States citizenship not previously addressed. Furthermore, the Naturalization Act stated that any foreign-born child who had one parent with American citizenship would automatically be a US citizen so long as the parent met certain requirements of prior US residency.
Ted Cruz was born in Canada to a mother with American citizenship and a Cuban father who initially came to the United States for schooling on a student visa. Cruz’s father would eventually earn Canadian citizenship and ultimately US citizenship. At the time of his birth, both Cruz’s parents had lived in Canada for several years for work-related reasons. Despite the fact that Cruz was born abroad and had one parent who was not an American citizenship, it can be argued that he is a natural born citizen of the United States due his mother’s citizenship. As previously stated, the Naturalization Act asserts that any foreign-born children with one parent with American citizenship are considered an American citizen, assuming that the parent in question had resided in the United States for at least 14 years.
Furthermore, past legal precedence can be used to argue that Ted Cruz is a natural born American citizen despite his birthplace. For example, the Supreme Court case Tuan Anh Nguyen v. INS determined that an American citizen who was living abroad and expecting a child could either re-enter the United States to have the child born or either stay abroad and have the child born there. In either case, the court determined that the child would still be considered an American citizen.
Additionally, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit determined that one may become a natural bon citizen of the United States through either being born abroad to at least one citizen parent or by being born in the United States in the case of United States v. Carlos Jesus Marguet-Pillado.
In addition to the questions raised about Ted Cruz’s eligibility and citizenship status, there was also debate over the citizenship status of John McCain, the 2008 Republican nominee. McCain was born in 1936 to American citizens stationed at a military base in the Panama Canal Zone. Cases questioning McCain’s eligibility were rejected due to a lack of legal standing. Despite the lack of legal standing for many of the allegations, one federal court recognized that McCain would indeed classify as a citizen at birth and thus a natural born citizen because he was born outside the limits of the United States to parents who met the requirements for citizenship.
In conclusion, the definition over what constitutes a natural born citizen of the United States has influenced the Presidential selection process and raised numerous questions about the citizenship status of several Presidential candidates. The vague meaning of the term has prevented a consensus over what exactly the term means. The issue has been brought up recently regarding the Presidential qualifications of Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz. Despite the fact that Ted Cruz is not a native born United States citizen, it can be argued that he is indeed a natural born citizen under the Naturalization Act of 1790. Additionally, past legal precedence in a number of cases further argue in favor of Ted Cruz’s position that he is a natural born citizen of the United States.