Donald Trump has quite loudly become the spokesman for the birthers – those who question whether the president is a native-born citizen. Personally the issue is a nonstarter for me. I could care less. The birthers come off as sore losers – saying “we could not beat you at the ballot box, we can’t impeach you so we get rid of you this way.” It is not enough that the president’s basic beliefs and policies should be the basis on which he is defeated, the birthers seek to delegitimize him as well. It is similar to the left constantly seeking to delegitimize the election of George Bush by claiming that Al Gore won in Florida – although no recount ever showed him leading.
What does the constitution say? The 14th Amendment defines citizenship as: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." Title 8 of the U.S. Code specifically says the following and defines people who are "citizens of the United States at birth:" (see http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_citi.html).
• Anyone born inside the United States (or a person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States)
• Any Indian or Eskimo born in the United States, provided being a citizen of the U.S. does not impair the person's status as a citizen of the tribe
• Any one born outside the United States, both of whose parents are citizens of the U.S., as long as one parent has lived in the U.S.
• Any one born outside the United States, if one parent is a citizen and lived in the U.S. for at least one year and the other parent is a U.S. national
• Any one born in a U.S. possession, if one parent is a citizen and lived in the U.S. for at least one year
• Any one found in the U.S. under the age of five, whose parentage cannot be determined, as long as proof of non-citizenship is not provided by age 21
• Any one born outside the United States, if one parent is an alien and as long as the other parent is a citizen of the U.S. who lived in the U.S. for at least five years (with military and diplomatic service included in this time)
• A final, historical condition: a person born before 5/24/1934 of an alien father and a U.S. citizen mother who has lived in the U.S.
Anyone falling into these categories is considered natural-born, and is eligible to run for President or Vice President. These provisions allow the children of military families to be considered natural-born. This is important for John McCain was born in the Canal Zone to a military family.
Note that the last provision would have made Obama a citizen at birth had he been born before May 24, 1934. The argument is that he was not born inside the United States or was not “subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.” But even if he were born outside the United States, what about the provision that even if one parent is an alien, his mother was a citizen and had lived in the country for at least five years? Why isn’t that sufficient?
Some have said that Obama must have something to hide because he can make all this go away by producing a birth certificate. My guess is that he wants the birthers to continue their ranting. It makes them look like kooks. As long as Trump trumpets the charge and the Republicans do not distance themselves from him, the real reasons for opposing this president get diminished.
Happy Birthday Frederic Bastiat
1 year ago