His father fled Castro’s Cuba. His mother was born in the USA. No one doubts where Ted Cruz was born — in Calgary, Canada. In order to settle the issue of his citizenship status, the Senator from Texas has released his birth certificate to the Dallas Morning News, but it’s not likely to have much impact on the debate over his eligibility for the presidency:
Born in Canada to an American mother, Ted Cruz became an instant U.S. citizen. But under Canadian law, he also became a citizen of that country the moment he was born.
Unless the Texas Republican senator formally renounces that citizenship, he will remain a citizen of both countries, legal experts say.
That means he could assert the right to vote in Canada or even run for Parliament. On a lunch break from the U.S. Senate, he could head to the nearby embassy — the one flying a bright red maple leaf flag — pull out his Calgary, Alberta, birth certificate and obtain a passport.
“He’s a Canadian,” said Toronto lawyer Stephen Green, past chairman of the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section.
The circumstances of Cruz’s birth have fueled a simmering debate over his eligibility to run for president. Knowingly or not, dual citizenship is an apparent if inconvenient truth for the tea party firebrand, who shows every sign he’s angling for the White House.
“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,” said spokeswoman Catherine Frazier. “To our knowledge, he never had Canadian citizenship, so there is nothing to renounce.”
The US and Canada have nearly identical birthright citizenship laws. The act of being born inside the country confers automatic citizenship by birth — but so does being born of an adult citizen of the country anywhere else in the world. The US version of that latter concept wasn’t clarified until well after John McCain’s birth in the Panama Canal zone, but was well established by 1970 when Cruz was born.
The presidential requirement of being a “natural born citizen” in Article 2, Section 1 of the US Constitution is unique, in that the concept has pretty much no other application in American life. However, it’s not so unique as to be completely without analogy or comprehension. A natural-born citizen can be defined as an American that does not require extra intervention to access citizenship rights. If Cruz had to go through the naturalization process to vote, for instance, or to get a US passport, then he would not qualify to run for President. Instead, Cruz has been able to legally exercise his rights as a citizen without any other intervention except his coming of age, as all American citizens do. Current law makes it clear that regardless of how Canada sees Cruz, the US saw him as a citizen by provenance of his birth — a natural-born citizen.
So why release the birth certificate at all? I suspect Cruz is being a little tongue-in-cheek here, since the document really doesn’t have any bearing on the question his critics are asking. Since the question is itself silly, Cruz must figure the best approach is to have a laugh about it.