Law Professors: Let Immigrants Become President by Amending Constitution

People take the oath of citizenship during a naturalization ceremony at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service's Field Office, Thursday, July 2, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

A pair of law professors are now arguing for an amendment to the United States Constitution that would repeal the requirement for presidents to be natural born citizens of the U.S.

Natural born citizens are those who were born in the U.S. and did not have to go through naturalization proceedings in order to obtain American citizenship.

In an op-ed for USA Today, Harvard Law School’s Randall Kennedy and George Mason University’s Ilya Somin say the natural born citizen requirement in Article II of the Constitution should be repealed, partly because of the nation’s increasingly diverse society, spurred almost entirely by immigration.

Kennedy and Somin write:

This presidential election season joins the last several in being attended by accusations that certain candidates are ineligible because of the requirement in Article II of the Constitution that the president be not only a citizen, but a “natural born” citizen. This time around, some have claimed that Sen. Kamala Harris is ineligible for the presidency because, though born in the United States, her parents were immigrants who had not become citizens by the time of her birth.

Some may fear that immigrants have less knowledge of American society than their native-born peers. But that concern is addressed satisfactorily by the Article II requirement that to be president a person must be 35 years of age and a resident within the United States for 14 years.

The constitutional amendment needed to repeal the natural born citizen requirement will be difficult to enact. Any amendment is an uphill struggle because of the required hurdle of securing two-thirds majorities in both houses of Congress, and ratification by three-fourths of state legislatures. This amendment would also face headwinds because of strong anti-immigrant sentiment on the political right. But things might well change as the current political moment passes, xenophobia recedes (polls show younger voters are much more supportive of immigration than older ones), and more people come to realize how ridiculous this restriction is. At the very least, Americans may get tired of hearing this claptrap every four years.

In 2004, former Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) argued before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the natural born citizen requirement should be repealed.

“This restriction has become an anachronism that is decidedly un-American,” Hatch testified. “Consistent with our democratic form of government, our citizens should have every opportunity to choose their leaders free of unreasonable limitations.”

In the 2020 presidential election, about 1-in-10 U.S. voters will have been born outside the country. Likewise, Hispanic Americans are set to outpace black Americans as the largest voting minority group in this year’s election.

Every year, the U.S. admits about 1.2 million legal immigrants on green cards to permanently resettle in the country — 70 percent of which arrive as chain migrants. In addition, 1.4 million foreign workers are admitted every year to take American jobs. These totals do not include the hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens who arrive annually, the majority of which are never deported.

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder. 

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