“BORN A CITIZEN” OR “NATURAL BORN?”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Sep. 5, 2019) — According to The Post & Email’s statistics counter, at 4:09 p.m. EDT a reader with a “New York Senate” IP address accessed an article by legal scholar and prolific writer Joseph DeMaio raising the question as to whether or not Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang is eligible for the office he seeks.
The article, simply titled, “Is Andrew Yang a Natural Born Citizen?” brings to readers’ attention that several declared candidates competing for the Democratic presidential nomination may not be eligible to the office, including not only Yang, but also Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Sen. Kamala Harris.
Interestingly, it is New York State’s Board of Elections (NYSBOE) which misstates the citizenship requirement for the President and commander-in-chief as “born a citizen” rather than “natural born Citizen,” as appears in Article II, Section 1, clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution.
For the last decade or more, reader and New York State resident Robert Laity has attempted to point out the error to the Board to no avail. An inquiry from this writer made several years ago received no response.
In his August 2 article, DeMaio detailed that Yang, while born in the United States and as it happens, in Schenectady, NY, likely has parents who never naturalized as U.S. citizens, a component some constitutional scholars believe is at least equally important to a person’s birthplace in determining whether or not he or she is a “natural born Citizen.”
DeMaio’s key finding reads:
As for Mr. Yang, although he was born in 1975 in Schenectady, New York – unquestionably geographically located within the United States – his bio reflects that his parents were “immigrants from Taiwan” who met while they were both graduate students at the University of California at Berkeley. His father, Kei Hsiung Yang, and his mother, Nancy Yang, moved to the United States in the 1960’s to pursue their higher education goals. The anecdotal evidence retrievable via the Internet, however, does not (as yet) disclose whether either or both Mr. or Mrs. Yang had become naturalized U.S. citizens by the time their son, Andrew, was born.
If both of them – and in particular, Mr. Yang – had not already become naturalized citizens before the birth, then Andrew Yang would not meet the de Vattel § 212 criterion as embodied in Art. 2, § 1, Cl. 5 of the Constitution. Stated otherwise, while he arguably might be a “native born citizen” under the 14th Amendment, he would not be a “natural born citizen” as required for presidential eligibility purposes. Further complicating the issue, in a newspaper article footnoted in Mr. Yang’s Wikipedia entry (please, spare me the tutorial on the downsides of “open source” websites like the one mentioned), it is noted that “Yang said he visits Taipei almost every year to see his parents, who retired in Taiwan after previously working and living in the U.S.”
As President Trump readied to leave for the G7 on August 21, he spoke to members of the mainstream press on the issue of “birthright citizenship,” which his administration has indicated it wishes to abolish. At the time, Trump characterized the policy as, “Where you have a baby on our land — you walk over the border, have a baby. Congratulations, the baby is now a U.S. citizen.”
On his campaign website, Yang states of his background:
I was born in upstate New York in 1975. My parents immigrated from Taiwan in the 1960s and met in grad school. My Dad was a researcher at IBM—he generated 69 patents over his career—and my Mom was the systems administrator at a local university. My brother and I grew up pretty nerdy. We also grew up believing in the American Dream—it’s why my parents came here.
In January, The Taiwan News quoted Yang as having said at a speech in California that he is “proud to be Taiwanese-American.” The paper also reported, “In response to a question from the audience, Yang said he visits Taipei almost every year to see his parents, who retired in Taiwan after previously working and living in the U.S.”
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.