On the Meaning of 'Considered as Natural Born'
Wake Forest Law Review Online, 2017
7 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2017
Date Written: April 5, 2017
Many scholars argue that derivative citizens like Senator Ted Cruz are eligible to the presidency because the First Congress provided in the Naturalization Act of 1790 that foreign-born children of American parents "shall be considered as natural born citizens... " Some assert that the provision declares substantive constitutional law, others that it shows Congress's power to define "natural born" status by granting statutory citizenship at birth.
This article examines earlier uses and variants of the phrase "considered as natural born," particularly in the Act's legislative history and in proposed Anglo-American terms of peace from 1777 to 1783. It concludes that the provision merely naturalized the children; it did not declare or define constitutional law. The provision does not tell us that the children were eligible to the presidency -- or that they were necessarily ineligible. It tells us only that those who receive statutory citizenship at birth abroad are naturalized citizens regardless of parentage.
Keywords: Constitutional Law, Legal History, Presidential Eligibility, Citizenship, Naturalization, Natural Born Citizen, Presidential/Executive Department
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