If you thought the end of Barack Obama’s presidency would (thankfully) mark the end of controversy of a politician’s birthplace, think again. Thanks to Donald Trump, the issue has returned, though this time with a bull’s eye on Ted Cruz — not coincidentally one of Trump’s most formidable primary opponents.
Cruz was born in 1970 in Canada to a U.S. citizen mother. The Constitution requires that the president be a “natural born” citizen of the United States, and Trump suggested Cruz’s Canadian birthplace might imperil his presidential eligibility — or at least he suggested that other people might suggest it. Perish the thought.
Trump claimed Cruz’s birthplace was a “very precarious” issue that could be detrimental to Cruz should he cinch the nomination. “Republicans are going to have to ask themselves the question: ‘Do we want a candidate who could be tied up in court for two years?’ That’d be a big problem,” said Trump. He added that “a lot of people are talking about it,” and that he’d “hate to see something like that get in his way.” Yes, we’re sure he would simply hate that.
But is there any validity to Trump’s “concern”? In a word, no.
The Congressional Research Service, the arm of the Library of Congress which for more than a century has been tasked with providing (allegedly) non-partisan research and legal analysis to members of Congress, has described a “natural born” citizen as one who is a citizen “at birth” or “by birth,” as opposed to a “naturalized” citizen. According to the U.S. Code, those who are citizens at birth include “a person born outside the geographical limits of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is an alien, and the other a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, was physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not less than five years, at least two of which were after attaining the age of fourteen years.” Cruz’s mother was born and raised in Delaware and attended college in Texas, more than fulfilling this requirement.