The Conversation

Is Rubio Eligible to be President of the U.S.?

The immigration reform issue is all the buzz across the country, and Senator Marco Rubio, who is aggressively pushing the newly unveiled immigration reform bill he  helped craft in the U.S. Senate, is once again be talked up as a possible 2016 Presidential candidate.

 

But while the Senator’s political  allies and supporters believe that he will run for President, there are those out there that do not believe that he is even eligible to become Commander-In-Chief of the United States.

 

I decided to take a stab at trying understanding why ‘Birthers’ believe Rubio is not eligible to be President of the United States.

 

Birthers contend that Rubio is ineligible to be President because his parent were not born in the United States. Rubio was born in 1971 at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Miami, Florida, making him a U.S. citizen.

While many of us will jokingly say that  a U.S. passport is required to travel to the ‘country of  Miami-Dade,’ the fact is,  Miami-Dade county and all of its municipalities are part of the United States.

 

 Both of Rubio’s parents were born in Cuba and became naturalized U.S. citizens years after their initial migration from the island.

 

For this reason, and this reason alone, Birthers believe that Rubio is not eligible to become President. Many contend that in order to become President, both parents of any presidential candidate have to be U.S. citizens at the time of his or her birth. Yet, this is not stipulated in the U.S. Constitution.

 

 Here is what is exactly written in the U.S. Constitution’s Article II Section 1-

 

No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five years, and been fourteen Years a resident within the United States.

 

So as you can see, the Constitution does not specifically define the term natural-born citizen. Those challenging Rubio’s eligibility cite various opinions and interpretations of what the natural-born citizen term could mean.


According to a Tampa Bay Times story written two years ago, Birthers “cite the U.S.Supreme, which in the 1875 case Minor vs. Happersett, used the term “natural born citizen” in reference to persons who were born in the United States, of U.S.-citizen parents.

The story also says that Constitutionalists point to the 14th Amendment, “which conferred citizenship on former slaves born in the United States (now a contentious issue involving the children of illegal immigrants.) Birthers say the amendment fortifies their case because it does not use “natural” born.”

 

So, while these Birther arguments are understandable, and cannot be completely dismissed as crazy talk, considering  the lack of definition of a natural born citizen in  Article II Section 1 of the Constitution, there is nothing written, or amended to the document that directly defines or changes the original requirements to become President of the United States.

 

In 2011 Congressional Research Service released a  report that stated the following-

The weight of legal and historical authority indicates that the term “natural born” citizen would mean a person who is  entitled to U.S. citizenship “by birth” or “at birth”, either by being born “in” the United States and under its jurisdiction, even those born to alien parents; by being born abroad to U.S. citizen-parents; or by being born in other situations meeting legal requirements for U.S. citizenship “at birth”. Such term, however, would not include a person who was not a U.S. citizen by birth or at birth, and who was thus born an “alien” required to go through the legal process of “naturalization” to become a U.S. citizen.[1]

Again, this is the interpretation of this particular think tank, or organization.


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