Is Ted Cruz Eligible to Run for President?

Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, real name Rafael Edward Cruz, was not born in the United States of America. Ted was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father. This fact had been largely ignored and forgotten by the media and general public, until recently, courtesy of his opponent Donald Trump.

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As Cruz closes in on Trump in the polls, Trump threw a shot at Cruz during an interview this past Tuesday. “Republicans are going to have to ask themselves the question: ‘Do we want a candidate who could be tied in court for years?’ That’d be a big problem.” Trump went on to talk about how Cruz has had a double passport before and this whole issue could be a big inconvenience to his campaign, Trump deems this a very “precarious” issue.

Trump has not been critical of Cruz the way he has of other presidential candidates. By this I mean that Trump has not ridiculed and insulted Cruz the way he has Jeb, Fiorina, Graham, Clinton and Sanders. The two seem to hold very similar views, especially regarding immigration. It could be said that the two have the toughest immigration policy ideas.

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The question is simple, is Canadian born Ted Cruz eligible to run for president of the United States, according to the Constitution? For this we turn to the document itself, specifically Article II, Section 1, Clause 5. The text tells us that in order to be eligible you must be 35 years or older, been a resident of the United States for fourteen years and have been born a naturalized United States citizen. It is precisely the last requirement here that raises questions. Is Ted Cruz to be considered a natural born U.S. citizen, despite being born in Canada? Unfortunately, our Founding Fathers did not leave us with a dictionary where they defined every term used in the Constitution, thus we have to derive interpretation to the best of our abilities.

There are two types of citizenship in the United States; naturalized and natural born. Naturalized refers to a foreigner who has gone through the necessary requirements while natural born refers to someone born on U.S. territory, or born to U.S. citizen parents. The later was clarified by congress in the Naturalization Act of 1790, claiming that the children of U.S. citizens were natural born U.S. citizens. The Naturalization Act of 1790 was later repealed by the Naturalization Law of 1802, but the definition of natural born U.S. citizen stood the same. The Founding Fathers wanted only natural born U.S. citizens as eligible presidents because they did not want foreign influence over the powerful Executive Branch.

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Definitions of Jus sanguinis and Jus soli can be found here.

So technically, Ted Cruz is eligible to be United States president according to the Constitution. However, critics can still use this to attack and discredit him. How can Cruz solve this issue? Well, let’s examine the birther issue of one of Cruz’s critics. John McCain’s eligibility was put into question when he ran for president during the 2008 elections. Senator McCain was born on a naval station in the Panama Canal Zone. McCain was born to citizen parents, thus making him a U.S. citizen according to the laws that govern citizenship of children born abroad to military parents. Regardless of this though, he was born in the Canal Zone, which is a U.S. territory.

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Interestingly, when asked on the Chris Merril Show this past Wednesday if Cruz was eligible for president, John McCain responded that “it’s worth looking into”; the Arizona Senator is not a fan of Cruz. It serves to note that Cruz gave up his Canadian passport years ago, when birther rumors and criticisms first started. For the majority of his life, Ted Cruz held a Canadian passport and gave it up only because he absolutely had to prove that his allegiance was to the U.S. and the U.S. only. McCain suggested that Cruz jump ahead and address the question. He stated that the Supreme Court could be forced to rule on this issue.

In response to McCain, Cruz alleged that the only reason McCain wants to stir up this controversy is because he is a secret Marco Rubio supporter. Cruz makes this claim based on the similarities in their policies, especially their foreign policies. His response to Donald Trump was more relaxed, comical, less thoughtful and less aggressive. He simply tweeted the billionaire, insinuating that he “jumped the shark“.

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