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Who Was the First President Born an American Citizen?

Who Was the First President Born an American Citizen?

The nation’s eighth president was the first commander in chief not born a British subject. Martin van Buren was a Democrat who served from 1837 to 1841. The seven men who held the country’s highest political office prior to him all were born before 1776, when the 13 American colonies declared their independence from Britain. Van Buren arrived in the world six years later, in 1782.

Raised in the Dutch community of Kinderhook, New York, Van Buren spoke Dutch as his first language; to date, he’s the only president to learn English as a second language. He also was the first native New Yorker elected to the White House; As of 2017, four other presidents have been born in the Empire State: Millard Fillmore, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Donald Trump. (While not born there, Chester Arthur, a Vermont native, was heavily involved in New York’s Republican Party before he won the White House, and Grover Cleveland, a native of New Jersey, was governor of New York prior to his first term as president.)

After serving in the New York Senate and the U.S. Senate, Van Buren, dubbed the Little Magician for his political savvy, was U.S. secretary of state from 1829 to 1831 under President Andrew Jackson. Van Buren was Old Hickory’s vice president during his second term in office, starting in 1833. Three years later, Kinderhook’s favorite son was elected president; he was the last sitting VP to ascend to the job this way (rather than as a result of his predecessor’s death or resignation) until George H.W. Bush did so in 1988.

Van Buren’s time in office was marked by a national economic depression, and in 1840 he lost his bid for re-election to William Henry Harrison. A contender for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1844, Van Buren was bested by James Polk. He made a final run for the presidency in 1848, as the Free Soil Party candidate, but was defeated by Zachary Taylor. Van Buren, who was born during the Revolutionary War, died in Kinderhook in 1862 during another pivotal period in American history, the Civil War.

WATCH: America 101: What Qualifications Do You Need to Be President?

Who was the first person born a citizen of the United States, and when did he or she die?

21 year member
3694 replies

Answer has 19 votes.

Perhaps the first person born a natural US citizen was Ethan Allen Brown. He was born on July 4, 1776 in Darien, CT.

He served on the Ohio Supreme Court (1810), was elected as Ohio State Governor (1818) and US Senator (1822). He died February 24, 1852, in Indianapolis, IN.

21 year member
2346 replies

Answer has 20 votes.

Currently voted the best answer.

Also born on July 4th 1776:

Jacob Davis - born July 4, 1776
Lancaster Co. Pa.
(Parents) Owen Davies and Anna Mary Weber

Philippa Cropley, wife of the late Richard Cropley. She was born July 4, 1776.
(National Intelligencer, June 3, 1861)

AMERICA3 MIDYETT (CHARLES2, MARICAY1) was born July 4, 1776 in Hyde, C.o. N.C., and died 1849 in Hyde, C.o. N.C.. He married HETTY MIDYETT Abt 1800 in Hyde, C.o. N.C.. She was born Abt 1782 in Hyde, C.o. N.C., and died Aft. 1880 in Hyde, C.o. N.C..
Notes for AMERICA MIDYETT: America Midyett was born on the 4 of July 1776, the same day that this country declared it's independance from England.

First, to be a citizen of a country, that country has to exist. On July 4, 1776, thirteen British colonies declared their independence from the British Empire. Although they did this as a single act among them, such action only severed ties. The action did not create a unified country but thirteen independent states. subsequent agreements provided for a unified army, but did not create a country.

The United States, in its current form, did not come into existence until its constitution was ratified (June 21, 1788). However, it could be argued that the U.S. was created by the earlier Articles of Confederation (March 1, 1781). The Constitution has no retroactive definition of citizenship - merely recognizing the citizens of the member states (the former colonies) as its citizens. The Articles more closely represent a treaty between states than a unified governing state.

Therefore, I question the claim of the date of July 4, 1776 as being a birthday for a person being BORN a U.S. citizen (as opposed to becoming a citizen later in life when a document forming government was ratified). Perhaps June 21, 1788 is the proper LEGAL date?

I shall agree that July 4, 1776 is the first date where a person born in the colonies may not be born a British subject. Persons born between 1776 and 1788 are more likely citizens of their respective colony-states than that of a unified government.

The OP suggested that citizenship of the independent colonies may have started with the treaty which ended the conflict and led to recognition of the colonies of independent states (the Treaty of Paris). Again, that's not an event that creates a unified government out of the colony-states.

My take on this is that persons born prior to July 4, 1776 were born British. Persons born between 1776 and 1788 are citizens of their respective colonies. Only persons born [on or] after June 21, 1788 were born U.S. citizens (and also citizens of their respective states).

NB: Having two levels of citizenship (member state and national) is not unheard of. Switzerland has a three level system (federal, cantonal, and village).

The birth of the Obama ɻirther' conspiracy

Republican Donald Trump asserted that Democrat Hillary Clinton and her campaign team first raised questions about Barack Obama's birthplace in 2008 - and that he was the man who settled the issue in 2011.

The truth, however, is markedly different.

As a preface to this latest turn in the Obama "birther" row, it should be noted that the location of Mr Obama's birth is generally considered irrelevant to whether Mr Obama is eligible to serve as US president. As long as he has one parent who was a US citizen, as Mr Obama's Kansas-born mother was, he is considered by the US government to be a "natural born citizen". That - along with being at least 35 years of age and resident in the US for 14 years - is the only necessary constitutional requirement for the presidency.

Now, according to fact-checkers and contemporary media reports, questions about Mr Obama's birthplace began circulating among disgruntled Clinton supporters in the last months of her ill-fated campaign against the then-Senator Obama in 2008.

It was desperate times in the Clinton camp, and the candidate did not always acquit herself well, such as when she said that Mr Obama was not a Muslim "as far as I know". But there is no evidence of ties between her and her campaign staff and the Obama birthplace allegations.

In June 2008 the Obama campaign released a photocopy of his short-form "certificate of live birth" showing that he was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on 4 August, 1961. (Reporters also unearthed a contemporaneous birth announcement published in a Hawaiian newspaper.)

This was not enough for some conspiracy-minded Obama critics, however, who questioned the authenticity of the document and demanded the "long-form" certificate from the Democrat's birth hospital.

During the general election campaign the rumours spread to the fringes of the right - evidenced most notably when a woman at a John McCain rally told the Republican candidate that Mr Obama was an "Arab".

Senator McCain took away her microphone and informed her she was wrong.

"Senator Obama is a decent person and a person you don't have to be scared of as president of the United States," he said.

From there, the conspiracy theories continued to simmer on the right in the early days of Mr Obama's first term in office. Orly Taitz, a conservative activist, filed lawsuits challenging the president's eligibility to serve - but all were quickly dismissed from US courts.

In March 2011, he first began mentioning that he had "real doubts" about whether Mr Obama had a US birth certificate.

In the days that followed, he said he was sending a team of private investigators to Hawaii to learn the truth and promised to donate $5m to charity if anyone could convince him Mr Obama was born on US soil.

On 27 April, 2011, the Obama White House released his original "long-form" birth certificate.

In a press release on Thursday night and on stage in Washington, DC, on Friday morning, this is the moment Mr Trump pointed to as the "great service" he performed in laying to rest questions about Mr Obama's birthplace.

The truth here, however, is also markedly different.

Over the following years, Mr Trump continued to raise questions and express doubts.

In 2012 he tweeted that he had an "extremely credible source" who told him the birth certificate was a fraud.

In 2013 he raised suspicion about the death of a Hawaiian health official who verified copies of Mr Obama's "birth certificate".

In 2014 he asked hackers to access Mr Obama's college records and check his "place of birth".

As recently as this month, Mr Trump did not back away from his past support of the "birther" cause.

"I don't talk about it because if I talk about that, your whole thing will be about that," Trump said. "So I don't talk about it."

Mr Trump did talk about it on Friday - and he's right, it's all anyone is going to write about.


Rights Edit

  • Freedom to reside and work. United States citizens have the right to reside and work in the United States. Certain non-citizens, such as lawful permanent residents, have similar rights however, non-citizens, unlike citizens, may have the right taken away. For example, they may be deported if convicted of a serious crime. [13]
  • Freedom to enter and leave the United States. United States citizens have the right to enter and leave the United States freely. Certain non-citizens, such as permanent residents, have similar rights. Unlike permanent residents, United States citizens do not have an obligation to maintain residence in the United States – they can leave for any length of time and return freely at any time. [citation needed]
  • Voting for federal office in all fifty states and the District of Columbia is restricted to citizens only. States are not required to extend the franchise to all citizens: for example, several states bar citizen felons from voting, even after they have completed any custodial sentence. The United States Constitution bars states from restricting citizens from voting on grounds of race, color, previous condition of servitude, sex, failure to pay any tax, or age (for citizens who are at least eighteen years old). Historically, many states and local jurisdictions have allowed non-citizens to vote however, today this is limited to local elections in very few places. Citizens are not compelled to vote.
  • Freedom to stand for public office. The United States Constitution requires that all members of the United States House of Representatives have been citizens for seven years, and that all senators have been citizens for nine years, before taking office. Most states have similar requirements: for example California requires that legislators have been citizens for three years, and the Governor has been a citizen for five years, upon taking office. The United States Constitution requires that one be "a natural born Citizen" and a United States resident for fourteen years in order to be president of the United States or vice president of the United States. The Constitution also stipulates that otherwise eligible citizens must meet certain age requirements for these offices.
  • Right to apply for federal employment. Many federal government jobs require applicants to have United States citizenship. United States citizens can apply for federal employment within a government agency or department. [14]

Duties Edit

  • Jury duty is only imposed upon citizens. Jury duty may be considered the "sole differential obligation" between non-citizens and citizens the federal and state courts "uniformly exclude non-citizens from jury pools today, and with the exception of a few states in the past, this has always been the case". [15]
  • Military participation is not currently required in the United States, but a policy of conscription of men has been in place at various times (both in war and in peace) in American history, most recently during the Vietnam War. Currently, the United States Armed Forces are a professional all-volunteer force, although both male United States citizens and male non-citizen permanent residents are required to register with the Selective Service System and may be called up in the event of a future draft. Johns Hopkins University political scientist Benjamin Ginsberg writes, "The professional military has limited the need for citizen soldiers". [5]
  • Taxes. In the United States today, everyone except those whose income is derived from tax-exempt revenue (Subchapter N, Section 861 of the U.S. Tax Code) is required to file a federal income tax return. U.S. citizens are subject to federal income tax on worldwide income regardless of their country of residence. [16]
  • Census. A response to the decennial census is mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution and by Title 13 of the United States Code of all residents. A response to the American Community Survey is also mandated by Title 13, U.S. Code, Sections 141, 193, and 221, as changed by Title 18.

Benefits Edit

  • Consular protection outside the United States. While traveling abroad, if a person is arrested or detained by foreign authorities, the person can request to speak to somebody from the United States Embassy or Consulate. Consular officials can provide resources for Americans incarcerated abroad, such as a list of local attorneys who speak English. The United States government may even intervene on the person's behalf. [17] Non-citizen United States nationals also have this benefit.
  • Increased ability to sponsor relatives living abroad. [17] Several types of immigrant visas require that the person requesting the visa be directly related to a United States citizen. Having United States citizenship facilitates the granting of IR and F visas to family members.
  • Ability to invest in United States real property without triggering FIRPTA. Perhaps the only quantifiable economic benefit of United States citizenship, citizens are not subject to additional withholding tax on income and capital gains derived from United States real estate under the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act (FIRPTA). [citation needed]
  • Transmission of United States citizenship to children born abroad. Generally, children born to two United States citizen parents abroad are automatically United States citizens at birth. When the parents are one United States citizen and one non-United States citizen, certain conditions about the United States citizen's parent's length of time spent in the United States need to be met. [18] See United States nationality law for more details. Non-citizen United States nationals also have a similar benefit (transmission of non-citizen United States nationality to children born abroad).
  • Protection from deportation. [17][19] Naturalized United States citizens are no longer considered aliens and cannot be placed into deportation proceedings.
  • Other benefits. The USCIS sometimes honors the achievements of naturalized United States citizens. The Outstanding American by Choice Award was created by the USCIS to recognize the outstanding achievements of naturalized United States citizens, and past recipients include author Elie Wiesel who won the Nobel Peace Prize Indra K. Nooyi who was CEO of PepsiCo John Shalikashvili who was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and others. [20] Further, citizenship status can affect which country an athlete can compete as a member of in competitions such as the Olympics. [21]

Civic participation is not required in the United States. There is no requirement to attend town meetings, belong to a political party, or vote in elections. However, a benefit of naturalization is the ability to "participate fully in the civic life of the country". [17] Moreover, to be a citizen means to be vitally important to politics and not ignored. [22] There is disagreement about whether popular lack of involvement in politics is helpful or harmful.

Vanderbilt professor Dana D. Nelson suggests that most Americans merely vote for president every four years, and sees this pattern as undemocratic. In her book Bad for Democracy, Nelson argues that declining citizen participation in politics is unhealthy for long term prospects for democracy.

However, writers such as Robert D. Kaplan in The Atlantic see benefits to non-involvement he wrote "the very indifference of most people allows for a calm and healthy political climate". [23] Kaplan elaborated: "Apathy, after all, often means that the political situation is healthy enough to be ignored. The last thing America needs is more voters—particularly badly educated and alienated ones — with a passion for politics". [23] He argued that civic participation, in itself, is not always a sufficient condition to bring good outcomes, and pointed to authoritarian societies such as Singapore which prospered because it had "relative safety from corruption, from breach of contract, from property expropriation, and from bureaucratic inefficiency". [24]

A person who is considered a citizen by more than one nation has dual citizenship. It is possible for a United States citizen to have dual citizenship this can be achieved in various ways, such as by birth in the United States to a parent who is a citizen of a foreign country (or in certain circumstances the foreign nationality may be transmitted even by a grandparent) by birth in another country to a parent(s) who is/are a United States citizen/s, or by having parents who are citizens of different countries. Anyone who becomes a naturalized United States citizen is required to renounce any prior "allegiance" to other countries during the naturalization ceremony [25] however, this renunciation of allegiance is generally not considered [ clarification needed ] renunciation of citizenship to those countries. [26] [ failed verification ] . The United States Department of State confirms on their website that a United States citizen can hold dual nationality: "A United States citizen may naturalize in a foreign state without any risk to his or her United States citizenship" [27]

The earliest recorded instances of dual citizenship began before the French Revolution when the British captured American ships and forced them back to Europe. The British Crown considered subjects from the United States as British by birth and forced them to fight in the Napoleonic wars. [28]

Under certain circumstances there are relevant distinctions between dual citizens who hold a "substantial contact" with a country, for example by holding a passport or by residing in the country for a certain period of time, and those who do not. For example, under the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax (HEART) Act of 2008, United States citizens in general are subject to an expatriation tax if they give up United States citizenship, but there are exceptions (specifically 26 U.S.C. § 877A(g)(1)(b) ) for those who are either under age 18½ upon giving up United States citizenship and have lived in the United States for less than ten years in their lives, or who are dual citizens by birth residing in their other country of citizenship at the time of giving up United States citizenship and have lived in the United States for less than ten out of the past fifteen years. [29] Similarly, the United States considers holders of a foreign passport to have a substantial contact with the country that issued the passport, which may preclude security clearance.

United States citizens are required by federal law to identify themselves with a United States passport, not with any other foreign passport, when entering or leaving the United States. [30] The Supreme Court case of Afroyim v. Rusk, 387 U.S. 253 (1967) [a] declared that a United States citizen did not lose his citizenship by voting in an election in a foreign country, or by acquiring foreign citizenship, if they did not intend to lose United States citizenship. United States citizens who have dual citizenship do not lose their United States citizenship unless they renounce it officially. [31]

Citizenship began in colonial times as an active relation between men working cooperatively to solve municipal problems and participating actively in democratic decision-making, such as in New England town hall meetings. Men met regularly to discuss local affairs and make decisions. These town meetings were described as the "earliest form of American democracy" [32] which was vital since citizen participation in public affairs helped keep democracy "sturdy", according to Alexis de Tocqueville in 1835. [33] A variety of forces changed this relation during the nation's history. Citizenship became less defined by participation in politics and more defined as a legal relation with accompanying rights and privileges. While the realm of civic participation in the public sphere has shrunk, [34] [35] [36] the citizenship franchise has been expanded to include not just propertied white adult men but black men [37] and adult women. [38]

The Supreme Court affirmed in United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898), [b] that per the Fourteenth Amendment's Citizenship Clause an ethnic Chinese person born in the United States becomes a citizen. [39] [40] This is distinct from naturalized citizenship in 1922 the Court held in Ozawa v. United States, 260 U.S. 178, [c] that a Japanese person, born in Japan but resident in the United States for twenty years, could not be naturalized under the law of the time and in 1923 in United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind, 261 U.S. 204, [d] that an Indian person could not be naturalized. In the Ozawa decision it was noted that "In all of the naturalization acts from 1790 to 1906 the privilege of naturalization was confined to white persons (with the addition in 1870 of those of African nativity and descent)", 1906 being the most recent legislation in question at the time.

The Equal Nationality Act of 1934 allowed a foreign-born child of a US citizen mother and an alien father, who had entered US territory before age 18 and lived in the United States for five years, to apply for United States citizenship for the first time. [41] It also made the naturalization process quicker for American women's alien husbands. [41] This law equalized expatriation, immigration, naturalization, and repatriation rules between women and men. [41] [42] However, it was not applied retroactively, and was modified by later laws, such as the Nationality Act of 1940. [41] [43]

United States citizenship is usually acquired by birth when a child is born within the territory of the United States. The territory of the United States includes the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands and the United States Virgin Islands. [44] [45] [46] Citizenship, however, was not specified in the original Constitution. In 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment specifically defined persons who were either born or naturalized in the United States and subject to its jurisdiction as citizens. [47] [48] All babies born in the United States — except those born to enemy aliens in wartime or the children of foreign diplomats—enjoy United States citizenship under the Supreme Court's long-standing interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment. [49] The 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." [50] There remains dispute as to who is "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States at birth. [51]

By acts of Congress, every person born in Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands is a United States citizen by birth. [52] Also, every person born in the former Panama Canal Zone whose father or mother (or both) are or were a citizen is a United States citizen by birth. [53]

Regardless of where they are born, children of United States citizens are United States citizens in most cases. Children born outside the United States with at least one United States citizen parent usually have birthright citizenship by parentage.

A child of unknown parentage found in the United States while under the age of 5 is considered a US citizen until proven, before reaching the age of 22, to have not been born in the US. [54]

While persons born in the United States are considered to be citizens and can have passports, children under age eighteen are legally considered to be minors and cannot vote or hold office. Upon the event of their eighteenth birthday, they are considered full citizens but there is no ceremony acknowledging this relation or any correspondence between the new citizen and the government to this effect. Citizenship is assumed to exist, and the relation is assumed to remain viable until death or until it is renounced or dissolved by some other legal process. Secondary schools ideally teach the basics of citizenship and create "informed and responsible citizens" who are "skilled in the arts of effective deliberation and action." [55]

Americans who live in foreign countries and become members of other governments have, in some instances, been stripped of citizenship, although there have been court cases where decisions regarding citizenship have been reversed. [56]

Acts of Congress provide for acquisition of citizenship by persons born abroad. [57]

Agency in charge Edit

The agency in charge of admitting new citizens is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, commonly abbreviated as USCIS. [58] It is a bureau of the Department of Homeland Security. It offers web-based services. [59] The agency depends on application fees for revenue in 2009, with a struggling economy, applications were down sharply, and consequently there was much less revenue to upgrade and streamline services. [59] There was speculation that if the administration of president Barack Obama passed immigration reform measures, then the agency could face a "welcome but overwhelming surge of Americans-in-waiting" and longer processing times for citizenship applications. [59] The USCIS has made efforts to digitize records. [60] A USCIS website says the "United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is committed to offering the best possible service to you, our customer" [61] and which says "With our focus on customer service, we offer you a variety of services both before and after you file your case". [61] The website allowed applicants to estimate the length of time required to process specific types of cases, to check application status, and to access a customer guide. [61] The USCIS processes cases in the order they're received. [61]

Pathways to citizenship Edit

People applying to become citizens must satisfy certain requirements. For example, applicants must generally have been permanent residents for five years (three if married to a United States citizen), be of "good moral character" (meaning no felony convictions), be of "sound mind" in the judgment of immigration officials, have a knowledge of the Constitution, and be able to speak and understand English unless they are elderly or disabled. [62] Applicants must also pass a citizenship test. [62] Until recently, a test published by the Immigration and Naturalization Service asked questions such as "How many stars are there in our flag?" and "What is the Constitution?" and "Who is the president of the United States today?" [62] At one point, the Government Printing Office sold flashcards for US$8.50 to help test takers prepare for the test. [63] In 2006, the government replaced the former trivia test with a ten-question oral test designed to "shun simple historical facts about America that can be recounted in a few words, for more explanation about the principles of American democracy, such as freedom". [58] One reviewer described the new citizenship test as "thoughtful". [59] While some have criticized the new version of the test, officials counter that the new test is a "teachable moment" without making it conceptually more difficult, since the list of possible questions and answers, as before, will be publicly available. [58] Six correct answers constitutes a passing grade. [58] The new test probes for signs that immigrants "understand and share American values". [58]

  • One way to become a permanent resident is to apply to the US government Diversity Visa (DV) lottery. This program permits foreigners to apply for a drawing to become a permanent resident. [64]
  • Military participation can also allow immigrant residents to become citizens. The military has had a tradition of "filling out its ranks" with aliens living in the United States. [65][66] The financial and social benefits of citizenship can motivate persons to participate in potentially hazardous activities such as military service. For example, a 2009 article in The New York Times said that the United States Military was recruiting "skilled immigrants who are living in this country with temporary visas" by promising an opportunity to become citizens "in as little as six months" in exchange for service in Afghanistan and Iraq where United States forces are "stretched thin". [67] One estimate was that in 2009 the US military had 29,000 foreign-born people currently serving who were not American citizens. [67] In 2003, of 1.4 million service members, 37,000 active-duty members were not citizens, and of these, 20% had applied for citizenship. [68] In 2002, President Bush signed an executive order to eliminate the three-year waiting period and made service personnel immediately eligible for citizenship. [68] In 2003, Congress voted to "cut the waiting period to become a citizen from three years down to one year" for immigrants who had served in the armed forces. [68] Spouses of citizens or non-citizens who served in the military also become citizens more quickly. [citation needed] The option was not open to illegal immigrants. [67] One analyst noted that "many immigrants, not yet citizens, have volunteered to serve in the United States military forces . Some have been killed and others wounded . Perhaps this can be seen as a cynical attempt to qualify more easily for United States citizenship . But I think that service in the United States military has to be taken as a pretty serious commitment to the United States". [69][68] By June 2003, 12 non-citizens had died fighting for the United States in the Iraqi war. [68]

Strong demand Edit

According to a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, "citizenship is a very, very valuable commodity". [73] However, one study suggested legal residents eligible for citizenship, but who don't apply, tend to have low incomes (41%), do not speak English well (60%), or have low levels of education (25%). [17] There is strong demand for citizenship based on the number of applications filed. [73] From 1920 to 1940, the number of immigrants to the United States who became citizens numbered about 200,000 each year there was a spike after World War II, and then the level reduced to about 150,000 per year until resuming to the 200,000 level beginning about 1980. [74] In the mid-1990s to 2009, the levels rose to about 500,000 per year with considerable variation. [74] In 1996, more than one million people became citizens through naturalization. [75] In 1997, there were 1.41 million applications filed in 2006, 1.38 million. [73] The number of naturalized citizens in the United States rose from 6.5 million in the mid-1990s to 11 million in 2002. [76] By 2003, the pool of immigrants eligible to become naturalized citizens was 8 million, and of these, 2.7 million lived in California. [76] In 2003, the number of new citizens from naturalization was 463,204. [19] In 2007, the number was 702,589. [19] In 2007, 1.38 million people applied for citizenship creating a backlog. [73] In 2008, applications decreased to 525,786. [73]

Naturalization fees were US$60 in 1989 US$90 in 1991 US$95 in 1994 US$225 in 1999 US$260 in 2002 US$320 in 2003 US$330 in 2005. [77] In 2007 application fees were increased from US$330 to US$595 and an additional US$80 computerized fingerprinting fee was added. [73] The biometrics fee was increased to US$85 in 2010. On December 23, 2014, the application fees were increased again from US$595 to US$640. The high fees have been criticized as putting up one more wall to citizenship. [58] Increases in fees for citizenship have drawn criticism. [78] Doris Meissner, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute and former Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner, doubted that fee increases deter citizenship-seekers. [73] In 2009, the number of immigrants applying for citizenship plunged 62% reasons cited were the slowing economy and the cost of naturalization. [73]

Citizenship ceremonies Edit

The citizenship process has been described as a ritual that is meaningful for many immigrants. [58] Many new citizens are sworn in during Independence Day ceremonies. [19] Most citizenship ceremonies take place at offices of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. However, one swearing-in ceremony was held at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia in 2008. The judge who chose this venue explained: "I did it to honor our country's warriors and to give the new citizens a sense for what makes this country great". [79] According to federal law, citizenship applicants who are also changing their names must appear before a federal judge. [79]

Sometimes, the government awarded non-citizen immigrants who died fighting for American forces with the posthumous title of United States citizen, but this is not considered honorary citizenship. [68] In June 2003, Congress approved legislation to help families of fallen non-citizen soldiers. [68]

There is a sense in which corporations can be considered "citizens". Since corporations are considered persons in the eyes of the law, it is possible to think of corporations as being like citizens. For example, the airline Virgin America asked the United States Department of Transportation to be treated as an American air carrier. [80] The advantage of "citizenship" is having the protection and support of the United States government when jockeying with foreign governments for access to air routes and overseas airports. [80] Alaska Airlines, a competitor of Virgin America, asked for a review of the situation according to United States law, "foreign ownership in a United States air carrier is limited to 25% of the voting interest in the carrier", but executives at Virgin America insisted the airline met this requirement. [80]

For the purposes of diversity jurisdiction in the United States civil procedure, corporate citizenship is determined by the principal place of business of the corporation. There is some degree of disagreement among legal authorities as to how exactly this may be determined. [ citation needed ]

Another sense of "corporate citizenship" is a way to show support for causes such as social issues and the environment and, indirectly, gain a kind of "reputational advantage". [81]

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (INA) made a minor distinction between United States citizenship and United States nationality. [82] Citizenship comprises a larger set of privileges and rights for those persons that are United States citizens which is not afforded to individuals that are only United States nationals by virtue of their rights under the INA. [83] It is well-established that all United States citizens are United States nationals but not all United States nationals are United States citizens. [82]

The Naturalization Act of 1790 (1 Stat. 103) provided the first rules to be followed by the United States in the granting of national citizenship after the ratification of the Constitution. [84] A number of other Acts and statutes followed the Act of 1790 that expanded or addressed specific situations but it was not until the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (Pub.L. 82–414, 66 Stat. 163, enacted June 27, 1952 ), codified under Title 8 of the United States Code (8 U.S.C. ch. 12), that the variety of statutes governing citizenship law were organized within one single body of text. [85] The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 set forth the legal requirements for the acquisition of American nationality. The Fourteenth Amendment (1868) addressed citizenship rights. The United States nationality law, despite its "nationality" title, comprises the statutes that embody the law regarding both American citizenship and American nationality.

The United States government takes the position that unincorporated territories of the United States are not "in the United States" for purposes of the Citizenship Clause, and thus individuals born in those territories are only United States citizens at birth if Congress has passed a citizenship statute in regards to that territory. Thus, people born in Puerto Rico, Guam, the United States Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands (after November 4, 1986) have United States citizenship at birth, while people in the Northern Mariana Islands who automatically gained U.S Citizenship on November 4th 1986 [86] may elect to give up United States citizenship while retaining United States nationality at the age of 18 (or within six months of becoming US Citizens, if over 18). [87] Meanwhile, per 8 U.S.C. § 1408 , people born in American Samoa are United States nationals but not United States citizens at birth, and must apply for naturalization if they wish to become US citizens, which requires them to pay a US$680 fee (as of February 11, 2014), pass a good moral character assessment, be fingerprinted and pass an English and civics examination. [88] The nationality status of a person born in an unincorporated United States Minor Outlying Island is not specifically mentioned by law, but under international law and Supreme Court dicta, they are also regarded as non-citizen nationals of the United States. [89]

The United States government position with regards to American Samoa began to be challenged in court in the 2010s, and has resulted in conflicting rulings: a 2016 ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court upheld the United States government's position interpretation that American Samoa is not "in the United States" for purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment and thus American Samoans are nationals but not citizens at birth, [90] while a 2019 ruling by the Utah District Court held the contrary and ruled that the American Samoan plaintiffs were United States citizens at birth (the latter ruling was stayed and will be appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court, which could result in a circuit split were it to be upheld). [91] [92] [93]

Non-citizen nationals of the United States may reside and work in the United States without restrictions, and may apply for United States citizenship under the same rules as permanent United States residents. Both of these groups are not allowed to vote in federal or state elections, although there is no constitutional prohibition against their doing so. Most nationals of the United States statutorily transmit nationality to children born outside the United States. [94] [95]

The United States passport issued to non-citizen nationals of the United States contains the endorsement code 9 which states: "The bearer is a United States national and not a United States citizen" on the annotations page. [96]

The issue of citizenship naturalization is a highly contentious matter in United States politics, particularly regarding illegal immigrants. Candidates in the 2008 presidential election, such as Rudolph Giuliani, tried to "carve out a middle ground" on the issue of illegal immigration, but rivals such as John McCain advocated legislation requiring illegal immigrants to first leave the country before being eligible to apply as citizens. [97] Some measures to require proof of citizenship upon registering to vote have met with controversy. [98]

Controversy can arise when citizenship affects political issues. Whether to include questions about current citizenship status in the United States Census questions has been debated in the Senate. [62] [99] Census data affects state electoral clout it also affects budgetary allocations. [99] Including non-citizens in Census counts also shifts political power to states that have large numbers of non-citizens due to the fact that reapportionment of congressional seats is based on Census data, and including non-citizens in the census is mandated by the United States Constitution. [100]

There have been controversies based on speculation about which way newly naturalized citizens are likely to vote. Since immigrants from many countries have been presumed to vote Democratic if naturalized, there have been efforts by Democratic administrations to streamline citizenship applications before elections to increase turnout Republicans, in contrast, have exerted pressure to slow down the process. [101] In 1997, there were efforts to strip the citizenship of 5,000 newly approved immigrants who, it was thought, had been "wrongly naturalized" a legal effort to do this presented enormous challenges. [101] An examination by the Immigration and Naturalization Service of 1.1 million people who were granted citizenship from September 1995 to September 1996 found 4,946 cases in which a criminal arrest should have disqualified an applicant or in which an applicant lied about his or her criminal history. [101] Before the 2008 election, there was controversy about the speed of the USCIS in processing applications one report suggested that the agency would complete 930,000 applications in time for the newly processed citizens to vote in the November 2008 election. [102] Foreign-born naturalized citizens tend to vote at the same rates as natives. For example, in the state of New Jersey in the 2008 election, the foreign born represented 20.1% of the state's population of 8,754,560 of these, 636,000 were eighteen or older and hence eligible to vote of eligible voters, 396,000 actually voted, which was about 62%. [103] So foreign-born citizens vote in roughly the same proportion (62%) as native citizens (67%). [103]

There has been controversy about the agency in charge of citizenship. The USCIS has been criticized as being a "notoriously surly, inattentive bureaucracy" with long backlogs in which "would-be citizens spent years waiting for paperwork". [59] Rules made by Congress and the federal government regarding citizenship are highly technical and often confusing, and the agency is forced to cope with enforcement within a complex regulatory milieu. There have been instances in which applicants for citizenship have been deported on technicalities. [104] One Pennsylvania doctor and his wife, both from the Philippines, who applied for citizenship, and one Mr. Darnell from Canada who was married to an American with two children from this marriage, ran afoul of legal technicalities and faced deportation. [104] The New York Times reported that "Mr. Darnell discovered that a 10-year-old conviction for domestic violence involving a former girlfriend, even though it had been reduced to a misdemeanor and erased from his public record, made him ineligible to become a citizen — or even to continue living in the United States". [104] Overworked federal examiners under pressure to make "quick decisions" as well as "weed out security risks" have been described as preferring "to err on the side of rejection". [104] In 2000, 399,670 applications were denied (about 1 ⁄ 3 of all applications) in 2007, 89,683 applications for naturalization were denied, about 12% of those presented. [104]

Generally, eligibility for citizenship is denied for the millions of people living in the United States illegally, although from time to time, there have been amnesties. In 2006, there were mass protests numbering hundreds of thousands of people throughout the United States demanding United States citizenship for illegal immigrants. [105] Many carried banners which read "We Have A Dream Too". [105] One estimate is that there were 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States in 2006. [105] Many American high school students have citizenship issues. [106] In 2008, it was estimated that there were 65,000 illegal immigrant students. [106] The number was less clear for post-secondary education. [ citation needed ] A 1982 Supreme Court decision, Plyler v. Doe 457 U.S. 202 (1982), [e] entitled illegal immigrants to free education from kindergarten through high school. [106] [107] [108] Undocumented immigrants who get arrested face difficulties in the courtroom as they have no constitutional right to challenge the outcome of their deportation hearings. [109] In 2009, writer Tom Barry of the Boston Review criticized the crackdown against illegal immigrants since it "flooded the federal courts with nonviolent offenders, besieged poor communities, and dramatically increased the United States prison population, while doing little to solve the problem itself". [110] Barry criticized the United States' high incarceration rate as being "fives times greater than the average rate in the rest of the world". [110] Virginia senator Jim Webb agreed that "we are doing something dramatically wrong in our criminal justice system". [110]

United States citizens can relinquish their citizenship, which involves abandoning the right to reside in the United States and all the other rights and responsibilities of citizenship. [111] "Relinquishment" is the legal term covering all seven different potentially-expatriating acts (ways of giving up citizenship) under 8 U.S.C. § 1481(a) . "Renunciation" refers to two of those acts: swearing an oath of renunciation before a United States diplomatic or consular officer abroad, or before an official designated by the attorney general within the United States during a state of war. [112] Out of an estimated three to six million United States citizens residing abroad, between five and six thousand relinquished citizenship each year in 2015 and 2016. [113] United States nationality law treats people who performs potentially-expatriating acts with intent to give up United States citizenship as ceasing to be United States citizens from the moment of the act, but United States tax law since 2004 treats such individuals as though they remain United States citizens until they notify the State Department and apply for a Certificate of Loss of Nationality (CLN). [114]

Renunciation requires an oath to be sworn before a State Department officer and thus involves in-person attendance at an embassy or consulate, but applicants for CLNs on the basis of other potentially-expatriating acts must attend an in-person interview as well. During the interview, a State Department official assesses whether the person acted voluntarily, intended to abandon all rights of United States citizenship, and understands the consequences of their actions. The State Department strongly recommends that Americans intending to relinquish citizenship have another citizenship, but will permit Americans to make themselves stateless if they understand the consequences. [112] There is a US$2,350 administrative fee for the process. [115] In addition, an expatriation tax is imposed on some individuals relinquishing citizenship, but payment of the tax is not a legal prerequisite for relinquishing citizenship rather, the tax and its associated forms are due on the normal tax due date of the year following relinquishment of citizenship. [116] State Department officials do not seek to obtain any tax information from the interviewee, and instruct the interviewee to contact the IRS directly with any questions about taxes. [117]

Citizenship can be revoked under certain circumstances. [118] For instance, if held that a naturalized person has concealed material evidence, wilfully misrepresented themselves, not disclosed being a member of certain political parties like the Communist Party of America or the Nazi party, etc., then they may have their naturalization revoked.

A citizen does not lose United States citizenship when they perform such acts like seeking office in a foreign state. [119] However, the higher office and more important role a citizen holds in a foreign government, the more limited the exercise of consular rights of United States citizenship will be: "Serving as a foreign head of state/government or foreign minister may affect the level of immunity from United States jurisdiction that a dual national may be afforded. All such cases should be referred to the Office of the Assistant Legal Adviser for Consular Affairs". [119]

From September 22, 1922 to the passage of Nationality Act of 1940, a woman holding United States citizenship could lose it simply by marriage to an alien or certain aliens ineligible for citizenship. [120] [121]

Birtherism: Where it all began

Just when it appeared that public interest was fading, celebrity developer Donald Trump has revived the theory that President Barack Obama was born overseas and helped expose the depth to which the notion has taken root—a New York Times poll Thursday found that a plurality of Republicans believe it.

If you haven’t been trolling the fever swamps of online conspiracy sites or opening those emails from Uncle Larry, you may well wonder: Where did this idea come from? Who started it? And is there a grain of truth there?

The answer lies in Democratic, not Republican politics, and in the bitter, exhausting spring of 2008. At the time, the Democratic presidential primary was slipping away from Hillary Clinton and some of her most passionate supporters grasped for something, anything that would deal a final reversal to Barack Obama. (See: Bachmann: Birther issue settled)

The theory’s proponents are a mix of hucksters and earnest conspiracy theorists, including prominently a lawyer who previously devoted himself to ‘proving’ that the Sept. 11 attacks were an inside job. Its believers are primarily people predisposed to dislike Obama. That willingness to believe the worst about officials of the opposite party is a common feature of presidential rumor-mongering: In 2006, an Ohio University/Scripps Howard poll found that slightly more than half of Democrats said they suspected the Bush Administration of complicity in the Sept. 11 attacks.

While there is no grain of truth to either fantasy, there’s something else when it comes to Obama: A visceral reaction against him, a deep sense that the first black president, with liberal views and a Muslim name, must be—in some concrete, provable way—foreign. (See: Mitt: Obama born here. Period.)

A brief history of birtherism

Birtherism is the latest and most enduring version of a theory in search of facts.

The original smear against Obama was that he was a crypto-Muslim, floated in 2004 by perennial Illinois political candidate and serial litigant Andy Martin. Other related versions of this theory alleged that Obama was educated in an Indonesian “madrassa” or steeped in Islamist ideology from a young age, and the theories began to spread virally after Obama appeared on the national stage – to the casual observer, from nowhere – with his early 2007 presidential campaign announcement. (See: Obama kin: Birther rumors 'a shame')

All through that year, the Obama campaign – with the affirmation of most leaders of both parties – aggressively battled that smear by emphasizing his Christian faith. Obama’s controversial but emphatically Christian pastor emerged as a campaign issue and the belief that he was a Muslim seemed to lose traction. (See: Clinton: Birther claims 'ludicrous')

Then, as Obama marched toward the presidency, a new suggestion emerged: That he was not eligible to serve. (See: Birther debate alive across U.S.)

That theory first emerged in the spring of 2008, as Clinton supporters circulated an anonymous email questioning Obama’s citizenship.

“Barack Obama’s mother was living in Kenya with his Arab-African father late in her pregnancy. She was not allowed to travel by plane then, so Barack Obama was born there and his mother then took him to Hawaii to register his birth,” asserted one chain email that surfaced on the urban legend site Snopes.com in April 2008.

Another early version of the theory, reported by the Chicago Tribune in June 2008, depended on a specious legal theory that was, for a time, the heart of the argument: that Obama was born in Hawaii but had a Kenyan father, and his mother was only 18 years old. Therefore, under existing immigration law, he was not eligible for automatic citizenship upon birth — a claim that depended on an understandable, but incorrect, reading of immigration law. Other theories suggested that Obama lost his U.S. citizenship when he moved to Indonesia or visited Pakistan in violation of a supposed State Department ban as a young man. (There was no such ban.)

But it dawned on even the most stubborn anti-Obama lawyers that federal courts were not going to recognize their exotic theories of citizenship, and they narrowed their focus on a claim that, if true, might have disqualified Obama, and resonated with the impulse to view him as foreign.

No single author claims parentage for this theory, now advanced by Trump. Even Martin disavows what became the heart of contemporary birther theory – that the president was born in Kenya and smuggled back into the country.

“I’m absolutely convinced he was born in Hawaii,” he told POLITICO.

Jerome Corsi, who would later become a prominent proponent of birther theories, neglected to mention the Obama birth cover-up conspiracy in his 2008 book, “Obama Nation,” instead claiming, without evidence, that Obama maintained both American and Kenyan citizenship. He didn’t respond to POLITICO’s request for comment.

But while the identity of the First Birther is lost to the mists of chain email, one of the first to put his name to the theory was Phil Berg, a former Pennsylvania deputy attorney general who had spent the previous years accusing President George W. Bush of complicity in the Sept. 11 attack.

Berg filed a complaint in federal District court on Aug. 21, 2008, that alleged, “Obama carries multiple citizenships and is ineligible to run for President of the United States. United States Constitution, Article II, Section 1.”

“All the efforts of supporters of legitimate citizens were for nothing because the Obama cheated his way into a fraudulent candidacy and cheated legitimately eligible natural born citizens from competing in a fair process and the supporters of their citizen choice for the nomination,” the suit claims.

Ironically, the birther movement didn’t really take off in earnest until the Obama team tried to debunk it.

In June 2008, National Review conservative blogger Jim Geraghty, after debunking a number of conspiracy theories about Obama floated by fellow conservatives, asked the Obama campaign to “return the favor” and just release his birth certificate to the public to put to rest questions about both Obama’s birth and whether, as enemies claimed, his middle name was “Mohammed.”

A few days later, the Obama campaign did exactly that.

They posted Obama’s certificate of live birth on their “Fight the Smears” website and gave a copy to the liberal website Daily Kos. It was greeted with immediate cries that it was a fake.

But Geraghty was satisfied, writing “this document is what he or someone authorized by him was given by the state out of its records. Barring some vast conspiracy within the Hawaii State Department of Health, there is no reason to think his [original] birth certificate would have any different data.”

But others were not swayed. The release of the certificate was declared a forgery. Some bloggers pounced, saying it had Adobe Photoshop watermarks that suggested tampering, that it lacked a raised seal, that it lacked a signature and a number of other accusations.

FactCheck.org, the non-partisan website, was allowed to examine the physical copy of the birth certificate in August 2008, and concluded it was real, that it had a raised seal, a signature and met all the State Department criteria for proof of citizenship. Combined with the state’s recognition that the record was real—and contemporary newspaper announcements of Obama’s birth, submitted by the hospitals —they concluded that he was a natural born citizen.

Hawaii has repeatedly confirmed the document’s authenticity.

“I, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, director of the Hawai’i State Department of Health, have seen the original vital records maintained on file by the Hawai’i State Department of Health verifying Barrack (sic) Hussein Obama was born in Hawai’i and is a natural-born American citizen,” one exasperated state official said in 2008 and again in 2009 in a statement.

“Of course, it’s distantly possible that Obama’s grandparents may have planted the announcement just in case their grandson needed to prove his U.S. citizenship in order to run for president someday,” FactCheck concluded. But, “those who choose to go down that path should first equip themselves with a high-quality tinfoil hat.”

Birthers have provided no serious response to this evidence, though the technicalities can confuse a casual observer.

The website World Net Daily, for instance, has written that “Hawaii at the time of Obama’s birth allowed births that took place in foreign countries to be registered in Hawaii.” But that law was not enacted until 1982 which was 21 years after Obama's birth was registered. Further, such a birth certificate would show the actual foreign place of birth instead of listing – as Obama’s does — Honolulu.

In addition to declaring the document a forgery, the birther movement’s main response – echoed by the ill-informed Trump - has been to claim that only a “long form” birth certificate can be valid. But the document shown by Obama is the only one the State of Hawaii is permitted, by law, to release. It is accepted as valid by the government entities like the State Department.

Hawaii law prevents the long-form record from being photocopied or released to anyone — including Obama. Obama himself would only be permitted to inspect it – not copy it or post it online.

Fukino, an appointee of Linda Lingle, the former Republican governor and John McCain supporter, twice inspected the certificate. According to NBC News’ investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff, the certificate is in a bound volume, in a file cabinet in the Hawaii Department of Health.

“Why would a Republican governor — who was stumping for the other guy — hold out on a big secret?” asked Fukino.

By the summer of 2009, then-White House press secretary Robert Gibbs summarized how convoluted the theory had become with each round of disclosures.

“A pregnant woman leaves her home to go overseas to have a child — who there’s not a passport for — so is in cahoots with someone…to smuggle that child, that previously doesn’t exist on a government roll somewhere back into the country and has the amazing foresight to place birth announcements in the Hawaii newspapers? All while this is transpiring in cahoots with those in the border, all so some kid named Barack Obama could run for President 46 and a half years later,” said Gibbs dismissively. “You couldn’t sell this script in Hollywood.”

The forgeries and the lawsuits

As Obama built a commanding lead in the polls, and was eventually became President-elect, a host of lawsuits were filed to prevent him from taking the oath of office. These lawsuits were combined with a letter-writing campaign to presidential electors as well as a fringe media campaign questioning Obama’s citizenship.

Berg’s August 2008 lawsuit wasn’t the last. A few days after Obama decisively won the election, Alan Keyes — Obama’s former opponent in the 2004 Senate race and a presidential candidate — filed a suit against the Secretary of State in California over Obama’s eligibility. Another suit was filed by a New Jersey man, Leo Donofrio.

A California dentist and lawyer, Orly Taitz, filed another round of suits. Every citizenship suit has been dismissed, and courts have slapped or threatened fines on some of the filers, including Taitz.

And with both the law and the facts against them, birthers have sought to create facts and documents of their own.

Taitz unveiled a purported Kenyan birth certificate in the summer of 2009. It was clearly a hoax – the Republic of Kenya didn’t exist when Obama was born, it was dated three years after his actual birth date, it didn’t match other contemporary Kenyan birth certificates and an anonymous blogger took credit for it, demonstrating with photos how the birthers were “punked” and how he produced the fake certificate.

“Fine cotton business paper: $11. Inkjet printer: $35,” wrote the blogger. “Punkin’ the Birthers: Priceless.”

A second Kenyan certificate was put on eBay in 2009, and Taitz again try to have it admitted into court as evidence, despite being an obvious hoax. And yet another hoax showed a fake sign that reads “Welcome to Kenya, Birthplace of Barack Obama” – that is both clearly Photoshopped and contains Arabic script welcoming visitors to a city in the United Arab Emirates.

The birther purge

In a 2008 story about campaign rumors concerning both Obama and McCain, POLITICO reported “whichever candidate wins, these campaign trail rumors will haunt his presidency.”

The Republican Party has approached the issue with trepidation, but a 2010 poll found more than a quarter of Americans have doubts about President Obama’s birthplace.

During the 2010 midterm campaigns, a number of Republican candidates went on record expressing doubts about President Obama’s birth. Rep. Nathan Deal, now Governor of Georgia, jumped on the birther bandwagon, becoming the first member of Congress to request Obama’s birth certificate.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) said, “I personally don’t have standing to bring litigation in court, but I support conservative legal organizations and others who would bring that to court.” Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) told a voter that she agreed with her that the President wasn’t a natural-born citizen — only to walk back her statements.

The party’s most prominent leaders, however, have firmly dismissed the notion and sought to purge birthers both from the Republican Party and from the comments section of conservative blogs.

“I believe the president was born in the United States. There are real reasons to get this guy out of office,” former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said recently.

“I don’t question the authenticity of his birth certificate, but I do question what planet he’s from when I look at his policies,” former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty joked.

Erick Erickson, editor of the influential conservative blog RedState publicly excommunicated the birthers from his site in 2010.

“If you think 9/11 was an inside job or you really want to debate whether or not Barack Obama is an American citizen eligible to be President, RedState is not a place for you,” he wrote.

Some Republicans take the position out of a basic respect for facts, but they also worry about its consequences for their party.

“It makes us look weird. It makes us look crazy. It makes us look demented. It makes us look sick, troubled, and not suitable for civilized company,” one of the first conservatives to turn against the birthers, talk show host Michael Medved, said in 2009. “I’m not a conspiracist, but this could be a very big conspiracy to make conservatives disgrace themselves.”

Corrections: An earlier version of this story misidentified the Ohio University poll. Also, an earlier version of this article did not note that the foreign registration of birth law did not come into effect until 1982.

CORRECTION: Corrected by: Bryan Doyle @ 04/23/2011 12:29 PM Corrected by: Alex Byers @ 04/22/2011 11:34 AM Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the Ohio University poll. Corrected by: Bryan [email protected]/232011 12:29 PM Correction: Also, an earlier version of this article did not note that the foreign registration of birth law did not come into effect until 1982.

This article tagged under:
  • White House
  • Barack Obama
  • Hillary Clinton
  • Islam
  • Birthers
  • Orly Taitz
  • Race
  • Chicago
  • Donald Trump
  • Donald Trump 2020
  • Politics
  • Kenya

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President Must Be Natural-Born Citizen — But What Is That?

The long-running “birther” controversy–a rather bizarre conspiracy theory which holds that President Obama was not born in the United States–refuses to go away, kept alive by business celebrity Donald Trump and other assorted critics.

And then last week it was unwittingly rekindled by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who said at a campaign stop in Michigan that “no one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate” – a witticism not everyone found amusing, given the bitterness of the controversy.

The Constitution, as we know, merely says that the president must be a “natural-born citizen,” and many Americans assume this means that presidential candidates have to be physically born in the United States to be eligible to run. But is this so?

Given that Obama’s mother was a U.S. citizen, would it even matter if her son was born in Kenya or Indonesia, rather than Hawaii? Serious analysts do not question the authenticity of Obama’s Hawaii birth certificate, and Mitt Romney has said publically that he does not doubt it, either.

Romney’s father faced a somewhat analogous controversy in the late 1960s. George Romney was born in Mexico to U.S. parents, Mormons whose grandparents had fled the United States to avoid American polygamy laws. George Romney always held that he was eligible to run for president in 1968 because he was a natural-born citizen, although he acknowledged that he was born on foreign soil.

Although the Constitution is notoriously vague on exactly what “natural born” really means–and the issue has never been fully tested in the courts in relation to presidential eligibility–the vast preponderance of legal opinion since the 1790s supported George Romney’s constitutional right to run, holding that a person born overseas to at least one U.S. citizen is eligible.

Statutes have consistently defined a natural-born U.S. citizen as someone who is entitled to be so “at birth” or “by birth,” regardless of where he or she was born (contrasting this with “naturalized” citizens, who become so entitled in later life). At least two other Republican presidential candidates have run on this definition of what it means to be natural born: John McCain, born in the Panama Canal Zone, who ran in 2008, and Barry Goldwater, born in Arizona before it was a state, who ran in 1964.

“Hang on,” you might say. “How did Goldwater get away with that?”

A brief consideration of our own history reveals why it would have been absurd not to have accepted Goldwater’s right to run. Even George Washington was not a natural-born citizen in the sense of being born “in the United States,” and nor were John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams or Andrew Jackson–all for the simple reason that they were born before the U.S. legally existed. All were born in what was then a British colony.

Our first seven presidents were, in effect, “naturalized” in 1787 when the Constitution came into being, and they ensured their own eligibility for the highest office by adding the phrase “or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution” to the better-known “natural-born” requirement.

While the Supreme Court may at some point have to rule on exactly what it means to be natural born in terms of presidential eligibility–probably sooner rather than later, given the growing ethnic diversity of the United States–this is all a murky and much misunderstood area as things stand.

Of more immediate importance, legions of Americans still apparently share Trump’s belief that Obama’s place of birth should make him ineligible to be president.

Although Romney welcomes the backing of “birthers,” he must feel torn on this issue because the attack on Obama’s right to be president is also logically an attack on his own father’s candidacy.

Even if one adopts the long-discredited view that Obama was born in Kenya to a Kansas-born mother, to deny his status as “natural born” is also to deny that of George Romney. Granted, Obama’s father was Kenyan and both of George Romney’s parents were American, only one parent needs to be a U.S. citizen for their children to take citizenship at birth.

In sum, even if Obama were born overseas, one can imagine few Republican candidates less suitable to challenge his constitutional legitimacy than Romney, except perhaps McCain, the Republican Party’s nominee in 2008.

And the fact that Trump is directly, albeit retrospectively, challenging the constitutional right of George Romney to run for the presidency seems entirely lost on the former, which makes the political alliance between Trump and Mitt Romney all the stranger.

UCF Forum columnist David Houghton is an associate professor of political science at the University of Central Florida and can be reached at [email protected]

Hamilton had a lot of enemies

Most of Hamilton’s contemporaries would have (perhaps begrudgingly) admitted he was brilliant. As America’s first treasury secretary, he created the financial system of the new nation. He was a prolific writer and political essayist, including the famed Federalist Papers, written in defense of the Constitution. He was one of early America’s most talented lawyers, winning a number of landmark cases. He even helped create the forerunner to the U.S. Customs Department.

His accomplishments and talents led to admiration and close friendships with a number of prominent figures. He could be charming, engaging and witty. But Hamilton had as many enemies as he did friends. He was also cocky, self-assured, arrogant, and dismissive. He picked fights with several of his fellow founders, which turned increasingly ugly during the rise of partisan politics in the early years of the republic.

Chief among his critics were Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, with whom he differed on political matters, and John Adams, a fellow member of Hamilton’s own Federalist Party. For many of the Founders, the personal mixed with the political and the petty. Hamilton weathered bigoted attacks on his immigrant background and those who looked down upon his private life, including Adams.

But Hamilton wasn’t against backhanded dealings himself. When Adams ran for president in 1796, Hamilton wrote a harshly critical pamphlet attacking him. In the 1800 election, he temporarily cast aside his dislike of Jefferson to engineer the defeat of fellow New Yorker and Federalist Burr (who he deeply distrusted), fueling a hatred in Burr that would lead to their deadly duel just four years later.

Naturalization Act (1790)

Naturalization is the process by which people can become citizens of a country they were not born in. The United States Constitution grants Congress the power "to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization" (Article I, section 8, clause 4). Soon after the Constitution was ratified Congress passed the Naturalization Act of 1790 (1 Stat. 103). The act provided

that any alien, being a free white person, who shall have resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States for the term of two years, may be admitted to become a citizen thereof, on application to any common law court of record, in any one of the States wherein he shall have resided for the term of one year at least, and making proof to the satisfaction of such court, that he is a person of good character, and taking the oath or affirmation prescribed by law, to support the Constitution of the United States.

This act reveals one of the deepest ambiguities in American citizenship. In requiring a period of residence prior to naturalization, members of Congress emphasized that foreigners should spend sufficient time in the United States to appreciate American democracy Congress viewed America as a school for equality and democracy. But by preventing foreign-born people of color from becoming citizens, the act established that American citizenship contained its own aristocracy, that of race.

The violence of the French Revolution in the early 1790s, dramatically exemplified by the Reign of Terror of 1793, raised fears that violent French revolutionaries (the Jacobins) would come to America. In response, Congress extended the residence requirement for citizenship in the 1795 Naturalization Act from one to five years. At first Thomas Jefferson's Democratic-Republican Party supported the extended residence requirement. Although Republicans favored admission of European revolutionaries, who generally supported the Democratic-Republican Party, they also feared an influx of merchants who would oppress the common farmer-citizens and support the Federalist Party.

Republicans, however, opposed the longer restrictions of fourteen years implemented by a Federalist Congress with the Naturalization Act of 1798. This act, as part of the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts, was designed to restrict the political power of persons sympathetic to Jefferson's Republicans. When Republicans wrested control of Congress from the Federalists in the election of 1800, they returned the residence requirement to five years in the Naturalization Act of 1802.

The increased residence restrictions implemented during the 1790s reflected a nativism, a policy that favors native-born citizens over immigrants, through which current citizens expressed a fear of foreigners and attempted to preserve what they saw as the uniqueness of American citizenship. Federalists and Republicans were each affected, in different ways, by this nativist rejection of foreigners. Throughout the nation's history, nativism has been behind exclusions of people based on race, country of origin, and political ideology.

The history of naturalization also reveals that citizenship was centered around men. While the 1790 act naturalized all "persons" and so included women, it also declared that "the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States. " This prevented the automatic grant of citizenship to children born abroad whose mother, but not father, had resided in the United States. Citizenship was inherited exclusively through the father. Congress did not remove the inequity until 1934.

The Civil War changed American ideas of citizenship. The Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed citizenship to all people born in the United States regardless of race, class, or gender. Congress then passed the Naturalization Act of 1870, which extended naturalization to people of African descent. Throughout the late nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, however, restrictions on immigration and naturalization based on countries of origin continued. Naturalization was limited for groups thought suspect, such as Chinese nationals, perpetuating a racial idea of citizenship. The tension between the ideals of equality and freedom and the realities of race, gender, and politics evident in the history of the naturalization laws of the first century of the United States set the stage for the debates about immigration and immigration laws during the twentieth century.

See also: Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 Chinese Exclusion Acts Immigration and Nationality Act Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

Questions About Barack Obama's status as a "natural born citizen"

Summary of eRumor:
A variety of articles and lawsuits that question whether Barack Obama is eligible to be President of the United States based on his citizenship.

Update May 23, 2012:
The State of Arizona sent investigators to Honolulu, Hawaii to verify the birth certificate of Barack Obama before the Grand Canyon State would allow his name on the ballot for the November 2012 election. Special assistant to Hawaii Attorney General David Louie, Joshua Wisch, told the Associated Press that Hawaii has provided the verification that Arizona was looking for and “that the matter was resolved.” This according to a May 23, 2012 article on the Fox News web site.

Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett said today that, “he received information from Hawaii that proves President Obama’s American birth and satisfies Arizona’s requirements for having the president on the upcoming election ballot,” according to a May 23, 2012 Fox News article.
Update April 27, 2011: The White House released what it says is the long-form birth certificate of President Barack Hussein Obama and said it proves that the president was born in the state of Hawaii.

Long Form Birth Certificate of Barack Hussein Obama II posted on White House web site

This development came after a series of television appearances of Donald Trump who is considering a run for the Oval Office and has repeatedly questioned the origins of Obama.

During a press conference at the White House the President said he provided additional information about the site of his birth and added, “I know that there’s going to be a segment of people for which, no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest. But I’m speaking to the vast majority of the American people, as well as to the press. We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We’ve got better stuff to do. I’ve got better stuff to do. We’ve got big problems to solve. And I’m confident we can solve them, but we’re going to have to focus on them — not on this”
The White House also released the correspondence between Obama’s lawyers and the Department of Health for the State of Hawaii: Click to view

White House video posted on YouTube

Tim Adam and the World Net Daily Exclusive

Case Filed By Dr. Orly Taitz

The AP Story About Occidental College Transcripts Release

  • That Obama was not born in Hawaii, as he claims, but was actually born in Kenya, his father’s homeland.
  • That Obama’s mother was in Kenya in the late stages of her pregnancy and airlines at the time would not let her fly back to Hawaii at such an advanced time of pregnancy.
  • That Obama’s grandmother on his father’s side, a half brother, and a half sister all say Obama was born in Kenya. In October, 2008, Berg announced that he had a recording of the grandmother talking about the birth and that she was in the birth room when it took place.
  • That Obama was born on August 4, 1961 but his birth was not registered in Hawaii until August 8, 1961 and that the registration and a Honolulu newspaper announcement of the birth were fabricated.
  • That there is not agreement in Obama’s family about what hospital in which he was allegedly born in Hawaii.
  • That according to Wayne Madison, a journalist with Online Journal, a GOP research team sent to Mombosa, Kenya, found a certificate registering the birth of Barack Obama, Jr. at a maternity hospital indicating his birth to a Kenyan father and a U.S. mother.
  • That if he was born in Kenya, he cannot be a U.S. citizen because the law stated that his mother would have had to have lived 10-years in the United States, 5 of which were after the age of 14. Since she was 18 at the time of Obama’s birth, she did not meet the residency requirements for passing U.S. citizenship to Obama.
  • That when Obama’s mother married an Indonesian man and took Obama to Indonesia when he was 6-years old, he would have lost his U.S. citizenship and become Indonesian. Indonesia at the time did not recognize dual citizenship.
  • That when Obama was registered to attend school in Indonesia, the registration form listed him as “Barry Soetoro” (his stepfather’s last name), listed him as Indonesian, and listed is faith as Islam.
  • That according to the law at the time, Obama’s mother would have lost her U.S. citizenship by marrying an Indonesian and living in Indonesia. Four years later she returned to Hawaii and divorced her Indonesian husband. Berg said that she could have regained her U.S. citizenship by taking an oath of allegiance to the United States but that there is no record that she did. Therefore, Obama would not have been able to regain his own citizenship until the age of 18 and himself take an oath of allegiance to the U.S. Berg said there is no record of that ever happening. Berg concludes that not only may Obama not be eligible to be president, but that he may be an illegal alien.
  • That Obama traveled to Pakistan at the age of 20 and traveled using an Indonesian passport. Had he regained his U.S. citizenship, according to Berg, he would have traveled using a U.S. passport.
  • In response to questions about his birth, Obama posted a birth certificate on his campaign website, but Berg contends that it is a forgery and that forensic experts have determined that it is a altered version of the birth certificate of Obama’s half sister, Maya Kasandra Soetoro, who was born in Indonesia but whose birth record was also forged to make it appear that she was born in Hawaii.
  • That when Obama registered for the Illinois Bar he lied and said “none” when asked about any former names.

Images of documents related to this eRumor:
Fake Generated From an Australian Birth Certificate

Above: The first image is a real certified copy of registration of birth from Australia. The second image appears to be the same document doctored up to look like it came from Kenya. At the time of Obama’s birth Kenya was was still under British possession and it was not until 1963 that it became an independent republic.

In a June 14, 2011 article by Jerome Corsi of World Net Daily it was revealed that radical supporters of Barack Obama have finally admitted to the forgery of the above Kenyan birth certificate.

There is now a website where people can generate their own Kenyan birth certificate just like the one that was fabricated for the President. Click for Kenyan Birth certificate generator.

Above: Certificate of Birth from Coast Province General Hospital in Kenya with Lucas Daniel Smith’s affidavit

filed with the U.S. District Court in Southern California by Dr. Orly Taitz

Obama’s Alleged Birth Certificate

Above: Alleged Certification of Live Birth posted on Obama’s Fight the Smears website in 2008.

Fake Video Of Obama Admitting His Kenyan Birth

The Video below has been circulating the Internet making it appear as the President admitted that he was born in Kenya. This is a digital manipulation with added excerpts from other media to lend it credibility. The original video is posted on the White House web site of President Obama addressing students in Turkey on April 7, 2009. Click here for the White House Video

Edited and manipulated video posted on YouTube

Faked Columbia University Student ID

We have determined that an image of a foreign student identification card bearing Barack Obama’s name and photograph to be a forgery after the original image was found posted on the website of Thomas Lugert in Germany. Click for website.

Is Barack Obama a natural-born citizen of the U.S.?

Claim: Barack Obama does not qualify as a natural-born citizen of the U.S. because his mother was too young.

Status: False.

Example: [Collected via e-mail, June 2008]

It seems that Barack Obama is not qualified to be president after all for the following reason:

Barack Obama is not legally a U.S. natural-born citizen according to the law on the books at the time of his birth, which falls between 1952 to 1986.” Presidential office requires a natural-born citizen if the child was not born to two U.S. citizen parents, which of course is what exempts John McCain though he was born in the Panama Canal. US Law very clearly stipulates: “If only one parent was a U.S. citizen at the time of your birth, that parent must have resided in the United States for at least ten years, at least five of which had to be after the age of 16.” Barack Obama’s father was not a U.S. citizen and Obama’s mother was only 18 when Obama was born, which means though she had been a U.S. citizen for (or citizen perhaps because of Hawaii being a territory) the mother fails the test for being so for at least **prior to** Barack Obama’s birth, but *after* age 16. It doesn’t matter *after* . In essence, she was not old enough to qualify her son for automatic U.S. citizenship. At most, there were only elapsed since his mother turned 16 at the time of Barack Obama’s birth when she was 18 in Hawaii. His mother would have needed to have been 16+5= old, at the time of Barack Obama’s birth for him to have been a natural-born citizen. As aforementioned, she was a young college student at the time and was not. Barack Obama was already old at that time his mother would have needed to have waited to have him as the only U.S. Citizen parent. Obama instead should have been naturalized, but even then, that would still disqualify him from holding the office.

*** Naturalized citizens are ineligible to hold the office of President.

*** Though Barack Obama was sent back to Hawaii at age 10, all the other info does not matter because his mother is the one who needed to have been a U.S. citizen for prior to his birth on 1961, with 5 of those years being after age 16. Further, Obama may have had to have remained in the country for some time to protect any citizenship he would have had, rather than living in Indonesia. Now you can see why Obama’s aides stopped his speech about how we technically have more than because it would have led to this discovery. This is very clear cut and a blaring violation of U.S. election law. I think the Gov. of California would be very interested in knowing this if Obama were elected President without being a natural-born U.S. citizen, and it would set precedence. Stay tuned to your TV sets because I suspect some of this information will be leaking through over the next several days.

Origins: The minimum qualifications for the presidency of the United States specified in of the Constitution are few and seemingly straightforward: In order to be President, a person must be a natural-born citizen of the United States, must be at least years old, and must have been a resident of the United States for fourteen years.

These qualifications aren’t quite so straightforward as they might seem, however. For example, what does the phrase “fourteen years a resident within the United States” mean? Can those fourteen years be cumulative, or do they have to be consecutive? Do the fourteen years of have to

immediately precede the presidential election, or can they have occurred at any period in a candidate’s life? These were issues that confronted Herbert Hoover, who, because of his work (first for a British mining firm, and later for the during World had spent a good deal of time abroad and returned to the U.S. less than fourteen years prior to his election to the presidency in 1928.

Likewise, the “natural-born citizen” requirement is not so straightforward either, because the Constitution didn’t define what a natural-born citizen was. (The definition of “natural-born citizen” was left up to individual states to decide until the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868, but even that amendment has been subject to further interpretation.) What qualifies a person for natural-born citizenship status under can be quite complicated, depending on factors such as where the person was born, when he was born, where he and his parents lived, and the nationalities of his parents.

Some of these factors might seemingly come into play in the case of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. Although his mother was herself a natural-born U.S. citizen, his father was a Kenyan national, and his parents may or may not have been legally married in the eyes of Moreover, his parents split up when he was but a toddler, and his mother soon afterwards married another foreign national and moved with Barack to Indonesia.

The item quoted above posits that Barack Obama does not qualify as a natural-born citizen of the U.S. because the law in effect at the time he was born specified that “If only one parent was a U.S. citizen at the time of your birth, that parent must have resided in the United States for at least ten years, at least five of which had to be after the age of 16.” Since Barack Obama only had one U.S. citizen parent (his mother), and his mother had not been residing in the U.S. for at least five years after the age of 16 when Barack was born (because she herself was only 18 at the time), then he’s not a natural-born citizen.

A few facets of this claim immediately jump out as being far-fetched: first, that a sitting who has already spent a good deal of time and money securing his party’s nomination for the presidency would suddenly be discovered as ineligible due to an obscure provision of U.S. law and second, that U.S. law would essentially penalize someone who would otherwise qualify for natural-born citizenship status simply because his mother was too young. The fact is, the qualifications listed in the example quoted above are moot because they refer to someone who was born outside the United States. Since Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, they do not apply to him.

The Fourteenth Amendment states that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.” Since Hawaii is part of the United States, even if Barack Obama’s parents were both non-U.S. citizens who hadn’t even set foot in the country until just before he was born, he’d still qualify as a natural-born citizen.

Some have claimed that Barack Obama’s Hawaiian birthplace doesn’t qualify him as a natural-born citizen because Hawaii was not yet a state when he was born. This claim is wrong: Hawaii was admitted as the almost two years before Barack Obama’s birth there ( 1959 for 1961 for Obama’s birthdate).

Some outdated versions of this item conclude by stating that “It should be demanded that Obama produce his 1961 Hawaiian birth certificate,” but in fact his campaign made an image of his official state-issued birth document available on the Internet back in


After completing his second term in the White House, Jackson returned to Tennessee, where he died on June 8, 1845, at the age of 78. The cause of death was lead poisoning caused by the two bullets that had remained in his chest for several years. He was buried in the plantation’s garden next to his beloved Rachel. 

Jackson continues to be widely regarded as one of the most influential U.S. presidents in history, as well as one of the most aggressive and controversial. His ardent support of individual liberty fostered political and governmental change, including many prominent and lasting national policies.

Watch the video: Biografia: MARTIN LUTHER KING - Lutou contra Discriminação e Segregação Racial nos USA sem Violência (January 2022).