Saturday, August 08, 2009

Birthers Question

You've heard of them, the folks that claim that Barack Obama isn't a US citizen because he was born in Kenya and not in Hawaii.

Here's what the US constitution says:
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.
Isn't any child born to a citizen of the US automatically a "natural born citizen," no matter where s/he is born?

(No, I think there's plenty of evidence that he was born in Hawaii, but even so.)

12 comments:

  1. 'tis true! If I have a baby while visiting the Dutchman's family, the baby is still a US citizen b/c I am (I know you know this) - I didn't know people were even debating this question - crazy...

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  2. The birthers have some sort of crazy idea that natural-born citizen means something OTHER than just "a citizen at birth" or "born a citizen rather than naturalized". They are trying to make up own rules about citizenship. Do NOT investigate further, might get fatally sucked in.

    My captcha just made me call myself a fool--"imful"

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  3. Birther logic is not Earth logic, but I believe that part of their argument hinges on his mother's age at the time of his birth. If I understand it correctly, apparently she hadn't resided in the US long enough for having-a-baby-who-is-a-natural-born-citizen purposes, because she hadn't been alive long enough. (All of this assuming that Obama was secretly born in Kenya, of course.)

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  4. I believe they're relying on elements of citizenship law -- either or both the Nationality Act of 1940 or the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952.

    In both cases, there were requirements that the U.S. citizen parent has to have had a minimum number of years (five) after attaining a set age (16 or 14, I believe). Since Obama's mother gave birth to him while she was still a teenager, according to either of those laws, if she did so outside of the United States, she could not convey citizenship rights to him.

    It's bullshit, of course. He was born in Hawaii. But the legal precedent reveals an interesting aspect of mid-century law and citizenship ideology!

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  5. children of citizens are citizens. the idea that his mother's age has anything to do with it is ludicrous.

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  6. But there was a time (1920s, I think) when a woman LOST her US citizenship by marrying a non-citizen.

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  7. there was a time when women couldn't vote. there was a time when segregation was legally enforced. constitutional protections on these matters were long ago clarified.

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  8. When almond joy was born in Israel, I thought it was nearly automatic that she was a citizen based on my citizenship. Nonetheless, and this in 1991, I had to bring in all old passports so they could count up the number of days I had lived in the States after the age of 14 (or 16 or 18, I don't remember), and we barely made it.

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  9. timna, i bow to your experience. i'm just curious, do you have dual citizenship? i am unsure how that works, but my nephew has both UK and american citizenship; his mom is american and he was born in the US, but dad is UK.

    i haven't seen anyone come up with anything like proof that obama's mom was in kenya near the relevant time, much less that she had lived any significant part of her life [or any part] outside the U.S. before obama was born.

    my own daughter was born in japan, but on a US navy base. she needed a passport as soon as she left the hospital.

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  10. Re Janice & Timna's comments, I read in anti-birther blogs that the small print on "age/length of residence to convey citizenship" only applied to naturalized citizens, but natural-born citizens could convey at any age. Timna, does that still fit with you?

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  11. Anonymous4:55 AM

    When one is born outside the US to one or two US citizen parents, one can and usually does indeed get US citizenship if certain requirements are met. My children both born in Germany of an American mother and German father have dual citizenship. However, my knowledge is they cannot become president because of the term 'natural born' does not apply to them. Look up the American Citizens Abroad website under Children's Citizenship to see how murky this subject is. www.aca.ch. Obama, of course, is a natural born citizen.

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