Nobody is talking about one crucial aspect of Ted Cruz's eligibility to become President --whether Ted Cruz ever technically became a citizen in the first place, or that he might have obtained his citizenship much later through the naturalization process. All the debate about his eligibility for being president because he was born in Canada is moot if his mother failed to file the necessary paperwork at birth to declare him a US citizen, in which case he would technically be an undocumented or “illegal” immigrant.
On August 18, 2013, the Todd J. Gilmann of the Dallas Morning News published a photo of Ted Cruz’s Canadian birth certificate showing that he was born in Alberta, Canada on December 22, 1970. His parents were listed on the birth certificate as Rafael Beinvenido Cruz, birthplace Matanzas, Cuba, and Eleanor Elizabeth Wilson, birthplace, Wilmington Delaware. The premise of Gillman’s accompanying article was that Cruz had a dual citizenship problem…that he retained both Canadian and American citizenship and that his dual citizenship could pose a problem.
“WASHINGTON — Born in Canada to an American mother, Ted Cruz became an instant U.S. citizen. But under Canadian law, he also became a citizen of that country the moment he was born.
“Unless the Texas Republican senator formally renounces that citizenship, he will remain a citizen of both countries, legal experts say.”
Gilmann made one serious factual error with his statement: “Born in Canada to an American mother, Ted Cruz became an instant U.S. citizen.” This is absolutely not true. Based on the immigration laws that existed in 1970, Ted Cruz could not have become an “instant U.S. citizen.”
Legal scholars on immigration law will note that the US laws were modified in 1978, 1986 and 2000 making the burden of proof of US citizenship eligibility easier, but Ted Cruz would not have fallen under those new provisions of the law. The laws were not made retroactive.
Chapter 3: United States Citizens at Birth (INA 301 and 309): "Until the Act of October 10, 1978, persons who had acquired U.S. citizenship through birth outside of the United States to one U.S. citizen parent had to meet certain physical presence requirements to retain their citizenship... An officer should determine whether a person acquired citizenship at birth by referring to the applicable statutory provisions and conditions that existed at the time of the person’s birth. These provisions have been modified extensively over the years."
The US Department of Justice website further clarifies this point:
“It should be noted, however, that the current law applies only to individuals born on or after November 14, 1986. Acquisition of citizenship is governed by the law in place at the time of an individual’s birth, and the current law differs in many respects from previous versions. For people born between December 24, 1952, and November 13, 1986, [note Ted Cruz was born in 1970] the law required that the citizen parent have been present in the United States or a possession for at least 10 years, and that 5 of these years have followed the parent’s 14th birthday.”
My personal circumstances were very similar to those of Rafael Cruz and Eleanor Wilson. I am a US citizen (born in Michigan), my wife was a Canadian citizen at the time, and we lived in overseas locations. Our children were both born overseas in 1975 and 1977. They both have foreign birth certificates, but in addition, in order to establish U.S. citizenship, I had to file Form DS 2029 with the respective US Consulates of those countries in which we resided at the time to obtain a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) for each of them. The CRBA is their equivalent of a U.S. birth certificate.
Later when we moved back to the USA (Texas) I used their CRBAs whenever birth certificates were required. We have never had to show their foreign country birth certificates for anything. In any case, one is in a foreign language and would be useless for local, state and federal authorities without an official legalized translation. In Ted Cruz’s case, it would have been entirely possible for him in the 1970s and 1980s to go through the Texas public school system, obtain a social security card, obtain a driver’s license, and even serve in public offices without having to show absolute proof of US citizenship. At least until very recently, a driver’s license was considered valid identification for almost anything.
So when the Dallas Morning News published Ted Cruz’s Alberta, Canada birth certificate in 2013 I immediately asked the question: “Why didn’t Cruz furnish his U.S. Birth Certificate, his Consular Report of Birth Abroad?” It would have been the logical thing to do for someone wanting to prove his U.S. citizenship.
Another obvious point that the media seems to have missed, his Alberta, Canada birth certificate does not prove that his mother is a U.S. citizen. Her place of birth is not something that the local Calgary, Alberta civil servants are going to investigate. Cruz’s mother simply filled out a form that asked for her place of birth. Ditto for the father’s place of birth. I am not disputing that she was born in the USA and therefore a US citizen. That is not the issue here. Rather it is the false notion that Cruz became an “instant United States citizen” with proof based on a box filled in on his Calgary, Alberta birth certificate.
It’s not my place to make a determination of citizenship based on the mother's place of birth on a birth certificate, nor is it the Dallas Morning News’s or the Alberta, Canada civil servants in charge of processing forms. The information provided on that Alberta certificate would not be subject to any more scrutiny by the Alberta civil servants than for a foreign tourist traveling through Canada and having to give birth in a local hospital.
As a part of filing the DS 2029 forms with the overseas American consulate offices in the 1970s for my foreign born children, I had to prove my own legal status at the time, which included proof that I was born in the USA, that I lived at least 10 years in the USA before my children were born, and that at least five of those years were after my 14th birthday. Ted Cruz’s mother would have had to likewise go through the same process that I did for my foreign born children. As the Department of Justice website affirms, that was the law when Ted Cruz was born in Calgary in 1970, and that was the law when both of my children were born overseas in the mid-1970s. If Ted Cruz’s mother failed to do this, well then there are problems.
Despite requests from the media under the Freedom of Information Act, Ted Cruz has never shown or provided copies of his CRBA (or alternatively his naturalization certificate) to anyone in the media for verification of his legal status. Why is that? There are only two possible reasons: 1) He doesn’t have a CRBA because his mother never filed DS 2029 to obtain one, or 2) that he obtained citizenship much later in life, perhaps after the age of 18 through the naturalization process. Maybe his mother considered herself a Canadian citizen at the time or maybe she just didn’t understand the law.
While a passport was a requirement for my foreign born son and daughter, it was not necessary for travel by Ted Cruz’s parents in Canada at the time. In the 1970s, Americans and Canadians traveled back and forth across the border without a passport requirement…maybe only a driver’s license was needed. It would have been very easy for his parents to just move back to the USA with no U.S. birth certificate (CRBA) for Ted Cruz. In fact, he could have easily lived in Texas forever, never having to prove his U.S. citizenship until he applied for a U.S. Passport. In a sense he would have been an illegal...a Canadian undocumented alien.
If I were to guess at the timeline of events, Ted Cruz probably never sought to obtain a CRBA through his mother. His parents were divorced in 1997. Without the CRBA, after the age of 18 (after 1988) he would have had to go through the naturalization process to obtain US citizenship. His father, Rafael Cruz, didn’t become a naturalized citizen until 2005, and I would not be surprised if Ted Cruz also became a naturalized citizen about the same time, particularly as Ted Cruz was planning a career in public service and recognized that his citizenship status would be a liability. This 2005 date was before he became a well-known public figure. However, to show his certificate of naturalization (or a later issued CRBA) to the media now would reveal the date of his naturalization and that he was effectively an undocumented alien for much of his life in the United States. That would be a major embarrassment to the Republican Party as Cruz has been the party’s leader in condemning President Obama’s initiatives on immigration reform including the Dream Act.
I have no doubt that the operatives in both the Republican Party and Democratic Party have thoroughly vetted each other’s candidates and know all this information on Cruz. The Democrats are content to sit on this information and release it as a “bombshell” at some politically opportune time. The Republicans, for their part, (probably the Bush establishment) know that the Democrats know and are looking for ways to quietly push Ted Cruz out of the presidential race without causing embarrassment to the party...the bombshell scenario. So why not leak to the Trump campaign that the Republican Party has “serious concerns” about the legitimacy of Cruz’s presidential campaign? Trump has previously stated that he has no problems about Ted Cruz’s legal status as a presidential candidate, so why the flip flop? Trump would only flip flop on that point if he had solid information. So let Trump do the dirty work of pushing out Cruz by creating enough doubt on the legality of his campaign that he will lose in the early primary and caucus states. However, that also elevates Trump because they both draw support from the same base.
It is, of course, a Catch 22 situation for the Republican Party establishment. They don’t want either Cruz or Trump, but pushing out Cruz through the primary process would avoid any of the public exposure and embarrassment about his citizenship status. That is the higher priority right now. They will attempt to deal with Trump after Cruz has withdrawn in a face saving move sometime in February or March.
It will be interesting to watch how the events (maybe a whispering campaign) unfold in the next two months on the issue of the legitimacy of the Ted Cruz campaign. If the Republican establishment has its way, Cruz will be a non-factor in the race by the end of March and will graciously drop out.