Since Oct 23, 2001

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My politics

On Obama's alleged citizenship...

Definition of natural-born:

Main Entry: natural-born
Part of Speech: adj
Definition: having a specified characteristic or ability from birth; having the legal status of a citizen; having a position or status from birth; native-born; by virtue of one's nature, qualities, or innate talent: a natural-born musician.
Origin: 1575-85

US Code Title 8 Section 1401 list those persons who are considered citizens at birth:

Natural-born citizen (from

Who is a natural-born citizen? Who, in other words, is a citizen at birth, such that that person can be a President someday?

The 14th Amendment defines citizenship this way: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." But even this does not get specific enough. As usual, the Constitution provides the framework for the law, but it is the law that fills in the gaps.

Currently, Title 8 of the U.S. Code fills in those gaps. Section 1401 defines the following as people who are "citizens of the United States at birth:"

Anyone falling into these categories is considered natural-born, and is eligible to run for President or Vice President. These provisions allow the children of military families to be considered natural-born, for example.

The statute in effect at the time of Obama's birth:

1952 The Immigration and Nationality Act of June 27, 1952, 66 Stat. 163, 235, 8 U.S. Code Section 1401 (b). (Section 301 of the Act).

"Section 301. (a) The following shall be nationals and citizens of the United States at birth:

"(1) a person born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof;

"(7) a person born outside the geographical limits of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is an alien, and the other a citizen of the United States, who prior to the birth of such person, was physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not less than ten years, at least five of which were after attaining the age of fourteen years.

(b) Any person who is a national and citizen of the United States at birth under paragraph (7) of subsection (a), shall lose his nationality and citizenship unless he shall come to the United States prior to attaining the age of twenty-three years and shall immediately following any such coming be continuously physically present in the United State(s) for at least five years: Provided, That such physical presence follows the attainment of the age of fourteen years and precedes the age of twenty-eight years.

(c) Subsection (b) shall apply to a person born abroad subsequent to May 24, 1934: Provided, however, That nothing contained in this subsection shall be construed to alter or affect the citizenship of any person born abroad subsequent to May 24, 1934, who, prior to the effective date of this Act, has taken up a residence in the United States before attaining the age of sixteen years, and thereafter, whether before or after the effective date of this Act, complies or shall comply with the residence requirements for retention of citizenship specified in subsections (g) and (h) of section 201 of the Nationality Act of 1940, as amended."

Obama's mother's birthdate: November 29, 1942
Obama's birthdate: August 4, 1961
Obama's mother's age when Obama was born: 18 years 8 months 6 days.
Maximum amount of time Obama's Mama could have been resident in the US after the age of 14 and prior to Obama's birth: 4 years 8 months 6 days
Obama's place of birth: Hawaii or Kenya - DISPUTED

Constitutional requirements to become 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."[Article II, Section 1]

Nowhere in the Constitution is natural-born redefined from the above definition which predates the Constitution by 200 years.

The definition of natural-born, having a specified characteristic or ability from birth, along with others having essentially the same meaning, is clearly the most appropriate and what the Founders meant, there is no other applicable definition.

Donofrio's and Berg's attempts to create a third type of citizen "born a citizen but not natural born" has no basis in the Constitution or in Law. All those might do is to help refine the question and bring the issue to the broader public's attention.

There are two, and only two types of citizen identified in the Constitution: natrural-born (having a specified characteristic or ability from birth) and naturalized (having confered upon (an alien) the rights and privileges of a citizen.)

14th Amendment Considerations:

The 14th Amendment states: 'All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.'

Some points to note:

The 14th clearly indicates two and only two types of citizen: born or naturalized. You must be one or the other. The term 'natural-born' does not appear. The reason it does not appear is that, since it means, literally, 'from birth', it would be redundant. If you are born in the United States you are a natural born citizen of the United States so long as you are 'subject to the jurisdiction thereof'.

The persons who are not subject to United States jurisdiction are limited to:

children of diplomats (by treaty)

children of Indians subject to tribal law (by treaty)

children of hostile occupying aliens (terrestrial or otherwise)

children of persons in transit through United States territorial waters or airspace or like circumstances

"While clearly establishing a national rule on national citizenship and settling a controversy of long standing with regard to the derivation of national citizenship, the Fourteenth Amendment did not obliterate the distinction between national and state citizenship, but rather preserved it. The Court has accorded the first sentence of Sec. 1 a construction in accordance with the congressional intentions, holding that a child born in the United States of Chinese parents who themselves were ineligible to be naturalized is nevertheless a citizen of the United States entitled to all the rights and privileges of citizenship. Congress' intent in including the qualifying phrase ''and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,'' was apparently to exclude from the reach of the language children born of diplomatic representatives of a foreign state and children born of alien enemies in hostile occupation, both recognized exceptions to the common-law rule of acquired citizenship by birth, as well as children of members of Indian tribes subject to tribal laws. The lower courts have generally held that the citizenship of the parents determines the citizenship of children born on vessels in United States territorial waters or on the high seas." [From Findlaw]

Dual Citizens are subject to the jurisdiction of the US as well as what ever other country they hold citizenship from. It simply does not matter if Obama held British or Kenyan citizenship in addition to his (unproven) US citizenship.

"US Dual Citizenship: The U.S. government allows dual citizenship. United States law recognizes U.S. Dual Citizenship, but the U.S. government does not encourage it is as a matter of policy due to the problems that may arise from it. It is important to understand that a foreign citizen does NOT lose his or her citizenship when becoming a U.S. citizen. An individual that becomes a U.S. citizen through naturalization may keep his or her original citizenship. However, as some countries do not recognize dual citizenship, it is important to consider it carefully before applying for U.S. citizenship." [from here]

The creation of new types classes of citizens will ultimately deprive some citizens of rights which they now hold - maybe you.