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by Sharon Rondeau

Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is a former mayor of Burlington, VT and has served in the U.S. Senate since 2006 and in the U.S. House of Representatives for eight terms as an Independent

(Jan. 12, 2016) — At a rally in Des Moines, IA on Monday, Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders reportedly commented that “nobody has ever asked me for my birth certificate,” in response to recent controversy over Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s eligibility.

Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada reportedly to a Cuban-citizen father and U.S.-citizen mother.  At one point, the elder Cruz obtained Canadian citizenship, according to a 2013 interview he conducted with NPR.

In speaking with The Washington Post last Tuesday, in response to a question posed to him concerning Cruz’s birth in Canada, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said that the matter should be adjudicated prior to the point where the party will make a nomination.

Previously, Trump had said that he believed Cruz “was in fine shape” in regard to his constitutional eligibility to serve as president.  Article II, Section 1, clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution requires that the president and commander-in-chief be a “natural born Citizen.”

Last week, Trump told The Washington Post that “the fact that he was born in Canada and he has had a double passport” could be impediments to Cruz’s eligibility.  “You can’t have that problem and go and be the nominee,” Trump additionally said at an Iowa rally on Saturday.

Early in 2011, Trump began calling for Barack Hussein Obama to release his “long-form” birth certificate to prove that he was born in the United States and was presumably eligible to hold the office of president. As early as 2007, doubts arose about Obama’s eligibility after news reports and commentators clearly stated that he was born outside of the United States.

Obama also claims a father who never became a U.S. citizen. On his 2008 campaign website, “FighttheSmears,” Obama claimed to have been born with dual citizenship of the U.S. and Kenya. However, Kenya did not achieve independence from the British Empire until December 1963.

In August 2013, The Dallas Morning News questioned Cruz’s eligibility based on his reported dual citizenship at birth.  At the time, Cruz’s spokeswoman claimed that Cruz believed he never held Canadian citizenship.

Cruz renounced that citizenship in May 2014, which acknowledged that he had possessed it, a fact not made public when he sought and won his seat in the U.S. Senate in 2012.

Most Americans have understood the term “natural born Citizen” to mean “born in the United States,” but the citizenship of the father was historically the determinant of the child’s, according to constitutional scholar Dr. Edwin Vieira.

By extension, Vieira maintains that like Cruz, Sen. Marco Rubio is ineligible for the presidency because of his birth to a foreign-citizen father.

“Natural born Citizen” was tangentially addressed in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Minor v. Happersett (1875).  In the majority opinion of the case, whose focus was voting rights for females, the court wrote, “The Constitution does not, in words, say who shall be natural-born citizens. Resort must be had elsewhere to ascertain that. At common-law, with the nomenclature of which the framers of the Constitution were familiar, it was never doubted thatborn in a country of parents who were its citizens became themselves, upon their birth, citizens also. These were natives, or natural-born citizens, as distinguished from aliens or foreigners. Some authorities go further and include as citizens children born within the jurisdiction without reference to the citizenship of their [p168] parents. As to this class there have been doubts, but never as to the first.”

The media has not differentiated between the term “Citizen” and the higher standard of “natural born Citizen” included in Article II for the presidency alone after Founding Father and first US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay wrote a letter during the constitutional convention to George Washington in which he said:

Permit me to hint, whether it would not be wise & seasonable to provide a strong check to the admission of Foreigners into the administration of our national Government, and to declare expressly that the Command in chief of the american army shall not be given to, nor devolved on, any but a natural born Citizen.

In its entirety, Article II, Section 1, clause 5 of the Constitution states:

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.

The words “or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution” are known as the “grandfather clause” which allowed any of the Framers to serve as president, given that none was a “natural born Citizen” as they understood it.

Many of the Framers were born in the United States, including George Washington and John Adams, but before the American Revolution and while the colonies were under British rule.

In his remarks on Monday, Sanders erroneously equated his father’s status as an “immigrant” from Poland to Obama’s father’s presence in the United States on a temporary student visa.  Obama’s father was never an “immigrant,” although former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson used that term in regard to Obama in 2008.

Of student and immigrant visas, the U.S. State Department currently says:

Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. You must have a student visa to study in the United States. Your course of study and the type of school you plan to attend determine whether you need an F-1 visa or an M-1 visa.

The immigration documentation of Obama’s reported father, released in 2010 through FOIA requests, does not indicate that he ever applied for U.S. citizenship and that his student visa was non-renewed as a result of what was viewed as inappropriate behavior.   The forms additionally note him to be a British citizen in 1962 who left the U.S. in July 1964.

While some legal commentators have opined that a birth on U.S. soil, regardless of the parents’ citizenship, is enough to qualify as a “natural born Citizen,” others disagree, contending that birthplace is secondary to the citizenship of the parents or father.  At least one commentator is now claiming that the belief that a person must be born “on U.S. soil” to be a “natural born Citizen” “appears to be a misinterpretation of Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution,”

As varying definitions of the term “natural born Citizen” have surfaced in Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports, from scholars, attorneys, legal analysts and pundits, this writer observes that at present, the only persons conclusively excluded from presidential eligibility are those born outside of the United States to foreign-citizen parents.

According to Atty. Mario Apuzzo, who filed a lawsuit on Obama’s first inauguration day challenging his eligibility, the concept of dual citizenship did not exist at the time the Constitution was drafted.

The term “citizen by birth” is now used to define a person presumably eligible for the presidency by some.  Atty. Herb Titus believes that in regard to “citizen by birth” and “natural born Citizen,” “there is a distinction between the two.”

At the Monday rally, Sanders opined that his birth certificate was not requested because he is white and Obama is black.

The Post & Email will be requesting that the Sanders campaign release a certified copy of the candidate’s birth certificate as well as documentation of his parents’ status when he was born.

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