Winston Churchill Is As Eligible For U.S. President As Ted Cruz
Winston Churchill never lived in the United States for any length of time. If we are to believe Ted Cruz is a natural born citizen under current law, then so could Winston Churchill (if he were alive today and had lived in the U.S. for 14 years), whose mother was an American citizen and who was given American citizenship at birth by Congressional statute similar to Ted Cruz.
Prior to 1934, U.S. citizen mothers could not transmit U.S. citizenship to children born abroad; only U.S. citizen fathers could do that. In 1994, Congress passed the Immigration and Nationality Technical Corrections Act, which added INA 301(h) (8 USC 1401(h)) which granted citizenship to people born abroad to a U.S. citizen mother before 1934:
The following shall be nationals and citizens of the United States at birth:
(h) a person born before noon (Eastern Standard Time) May 24, 1934, outside the limits and jurisdiction of the United States of an alien father and a mother who is a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, had resided in the United States.
This section was specified to apply retroactively to the date of the person’s birth.
Winston Churchill was not a U.S. citizen according to the law at the time of his life, but is considered to have been a U.S. citizen from birth according to current law. We already noted:
Article I of the Constitution grants Congress the power to naturalize an alien — that is, Congress may remove an alien’s legal disabilities, such as not being allowed to vote. But Article II of the Constitution expressly adopts the legal status of the natural-born citizen and requires that a president possess that status. However we feel about allowing naturalized immigrants to reach for the stars, the Constitution must be amended before one of them can attain the office of president. Congress simply does not have the power to convert someone born outside the United States into a natural-born citizen.
Look we know who the founders wanted the most people possible to be eligible for the presidency. They certainly wanted to claim everyone else’s citizens if there was a trace of US blood and soil in their background. They were all about super inclusivity.
Are you done laughing yet? Good. The real founders certainly did not mean any U.S. citizen could be President, which is why they used the unique phrase of “natural born” in the first place. This is rooted in common law as being born within the territory. Common law is what the Constitution would rely on to define natural born. Cruz and Churchill were both naturalized citizens at birth by statute. Neither was natural born because they were born in other countries.