On Sunday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-T) released his birth certificate to the Dallas Morning News. The official document is from the Edmonton branch of the Province of Alberta’s Department of Health, and indicates that the Republican presidential hopeful was born in Calgary to a Cuban father and an American mother. To those who believe natural-born citizenship requires birth on United States soil, like Donald Trump, a Cruz candidacy would present similar eligibility issues to those that both President Obama and his opponent, Sen. John McCain, faced during the 2008 election. Constitutional scholars, including Cruz himself, think the “birther” issue is irrelevant, given that Cruz’s mother was born in Wilmington, Delaware. Her American citizenship, they claim, makes him a natural-born, instead of a naturalized, citizen of the United States.
The requirement that Presidents be natural-born stems from an idea most succinctly articulated by Alexander Hamilton in “Federalist #68,” in which he notes “the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in [American] councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?” In the case of Cruz, his status as a natural-born citizen would seem to preclude him from being such a creature.
However, Canadian lawyers inform the Morning News that Cruz’s Calgary birth automatically granted him Canadian citizenship because his father, Rafael Cruz, had moved to Canada in the 1960s and was considered a permanent resident at the time of Cruz’s birth in 1970. Canadian law stipulates that the child of a permanent resident is conferred Canadian citizenship.
The result is that Cruz apparently currently retains his citizenship in both the United States and Canada. No one claims that Cruz is a Canadian Manchurian candidate but, as the last two presidential elections have proven, any question about a candidate’s eligibility to hold the Office of the Presidency will find traction in certain portions of the electorate.
Unless, that is, Cruz publicly renounces his Canadian citizenship. His spokeswoman, Catherine Frazier, indicates that is unlikely to happen: “Senator Cruz became a U.S. citizen at birth, and he never had to go through a naturalization process after birth to become a U.S. citizen. To our knowledge, he never had Canadian citizenship, so there is nothing to renounce.”
UPDATE: Cruz renounced his Canadian citizenship on Monday afternoon, but said he had nothing against the country.
“I got my U.S. passport in high school,” he said in a statement reported by the Associated Press.
“Because I was a U.S. citizen at birth, because I left Calgary when I was 4 and have lived my entire life since then in the U.S., and because I have never taken affirmative steps to claim Canadian citizenship, I assumed that was the end of the matter. Now The Dallas Morning News says that I may technically have dual citizenship. Assuming that is true, then sure, I will renounce any Canadian citizenship. Nothing against Canada, but I’m an American by birth and as a U.S. Senator, I believe I should be only an American.”
Scott Eric Kaufman is the proprietor of the AV Club's Internet Film School and, in addition to Raw Story, also writes for Lawyers, Guns & Money. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2008.
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