Thank you for your efforts debunking the birthers, CNN. Now if you could only get it right….
I’m referring to the recent article, Debunking the birther claim, on the CNN web site — pretty good stuff, but not all. Zeroing on the offending section:
“Most scholars, including me, believe that natural born citizenship extends further, to all of those who obtain citizenship at birth by law,” writes Gabriel “Jack” Chin in a CNN.com opinion piece. “If this argument is right, then even if Obama had been born overseas, he is still a natural born citizen, because he obtained citizenship at birth through his mother who unquestionably was a U.S. citizen.”
Who am I to criticize a mainstream scholar of constitutional law like Prof. Jack Chin, author of the seminal presidential eligibility paper in the Michigan Law Review? I couldn’t touch his credentials on constitutional law, but his error is on citizenship law.
You see, in Obama’s birth year of 1961 there were age and residence requirements placed on US citizen mothers married to foreign nationals in order to be able to pass their citizenship on to their foreign-born children at birth. Ann Dunham did not meet those requirements. (There is a whole other argument about whether Dunham was legally married to bigamist Obama Sr. that must also be considered.) Here are the specific requirements published by the US State Department:
Birth Abroad to One Citizen and One Alien Parent in Wedlock:
A child born abroad to one U.S. citizen parent and one alien parent acquires U.S. citizenship at birth under Section 301(g) of the INA provided the U.S. citizen parent was physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for the time period required by the law applicable at the time of the child’s birth. (For birth on or after November 14, 1986, a period of five years physical presence, two after the age of fourteen, is required. For birth between December 24, 1952 and November 13, 1986, a period of ten years, five after the age of fourteen, is required for physical presence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions to transmit U.S. citizenship to the child.) The U.S. citizen parent must be genetically related to the child to transmit U.S. citizenship.
Ann Dunham, mother at age 18, did not have 5 years residence after age 14 and could not pass on her citizenship (assuming she was married). The rules for unmarried mothers differ:
Birth Abroad Out-of-Wedlock to a U.S. Citizen Mother:
A person born abroad out-of-wedlock to a U.S. citizen mother may acquire U.S. citizenship under Section 309(c) of the INA if the mother was a U.S. citizen at the time of the person’s birth and if the mother was physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year prior to the person’s birth. The mother must be genetically related to the person in order to transmit U.S. citizenship.
In future, CNN, pretty please check your facts better.
I received a nice email from Dr. Chin. He said that the President would likely be regarded as having been born in wedlock even if the marriage was void or voidable. Chin wrote:
I did not realize how how young his mother was. Under the law at the time, his mother would have to have lived in the United States for 10 years, five of which were after age 14. She was 18 when she had him, so he did not meet the requirement. Had the President been born overseas, he probably would not have been born a citizen. This law was changed in 1986.
- State Department Foreign Affairs Manual (see section on Voidable and Void Marriages)