Is Ted Cruz Eligible to become President of the United States?

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Is Ted Cruz eligible to be President of the United States?

US Senator Ted Cruz is running for President in 2016. As a result, there are many questions as to his eligibility for office. His birth in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 1970 to an American mother and Cuban immigrant father raises questions about his eligibility for office. So, is Ted Cruz eligible to seek the presidential nomination and become President of the United States in the future?

Let's take a look.

Article 2, Section 1 of the US Constitution describes the eligibility requirements for becoming president:

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.

Ted Cruz easily meets two of the three requirements: he is over 35 years old and he has lived in the United States permanently since he was 4 years old. However, he was born in Canada and remained their until the age of four, raising questions as to whether he is considered a "natural born citizen." There is actually no clear definition in the US Constitution of what defines a natural born citizen, and no court has ruled on the question.

Does one have to physically be born in the United States in order to be considered natural born? If so, that would exclude any person unexpectedly born early to citizens vacationing oversees for two weeks, for missionary families, and for many children of service members.


Recent Questions of Presidential Eligibility

During the 2008 campaign, questions were raised regarding the eligibility of both Barack Obama and John McCain to become president.

For Barack Obama, his problems arose from his mostly unknown background and a habit of keeping all information about his life - except what he wanted people to know - out of public view. Obama was also born to a citizen mother and foreign national and he lived for sometime in Indonesia. McCain was in the Panama Canal Zone at the Air Force base where his father served. Like Cruz, McCain was "born abroad" to US Citizen parents. In both cases, the questions of eligibility were mostly brought up by activists and the challenges were not taken seriously by the major political parties or the court system.


Challenges to "Birthright Citizenship"

During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have been leading advocates for redefining current understanding of what it means to be a "natural born citizen" as it relates to illegal immigration. They reject the current translation that simply being born in the United States qualifies one to be a "natural born citizen." Their concern mostly concerns mothers who cross the border to give birth with the sole intention of making their child an American citizen. Since the phrase is not technically defined by the Constitution, it could theoretically be re-defined as requiring both parents of child be US citizens to be considered a natural born citizen.

This line of arguing leaves a lot to interpretation.


Verdict: Is Cruz Eligible?

While we cannot definitively say "yes" to the question at hand, we believe that Cruz's eligibility would most likely be granted if challenged in the court system. While Cruz was born in Canada, he was born to an American citizen mother in a family that temporarily relocated in order to work in the oil business. Just as John McCain's eligibility was never really questioned, we believe Cruz's scenario is in the same realm of reasoning. His family never gave up citizenship and they never attempted to become Canadian citizens.

The Congressional Research Service released a comprehensive review of presidential eligibility in 2011 and noted that most scholarship on the subject concluded that an individual born abroad to a citizen parent would likely be considered a natural citizen, and thereby eligible for the presidency.

Although most scholars seems to believe that children of citizens born abroad would be eligible, the questions might not be definitively settled until a legitimate challenge happens and a ruling is issued by the United States Supreme Court.