By all accounts, Ted Cruz’ life story is inspiring. Born of a mother who was the first in her family to go to college and a father who escaped Fidel Castro’s regime, Cruz went on to Princeton and Harvard Law School, becoming a founding editor of the Harvard Latino Law Review. From there he went on to a celebrated legal career, ultimately becoming a U.S. Senator. A darling of the Tea Party, his name is being bandied about as a possible presidential candidate in 2016.
Except, oh yeah, he might not be a “real” American.
He is an American citizen, yes. But he was born in Canada. This is not faux birther nonsense – he was really born in Canada, as the birth certificate he recently released reveals. Only “natural born” citizens are eligible for the presidency of the United States. Whether “born in Canada to an American mother’ actually means “natural born citizen” is a question that has never been settled in a court, as it most certainly would need to be should Ted Cruz become president.
Here’s the thing: despite my many problems with Ted Cruz’ political positions, I think that to deny him the presidency based on this technicality would be ridiculous. (Let’s deny it to him based on other things, like the fact that he wants to shut down the government to de-fund Obamacare). What bothers me is that Ted Cruz and his ilk don’t see that if that if the circumstances and place of his birth – over which he had no control – should not affect his chances to achieve all he can as a member of U.S. society, neither should it affect the lives of the millions of people living out of status in the United States. But, instead, Ted Cruz does not support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He supports the building of big walls. The kind that might have kept him out should his life have gone a little differently. I can’t help but wonder how good the Tea Party would feel about his non-American-ness if he had been born in Mexico to a Mexican-American mother instead of in Canada to an Irish-Italian one plus a “safe” (read: non-brown) Latino father.
It all reads like the rules that children make up for games. If you’re not born in the United States BUT your mother is a U.S. citizen who drops you in an acceptable foreign country AND you go to Princeton, of course you’re okay to stay. But IF you’re brought over as a two-month-old AND don’t even know you’re not a U.S. citizen, you should be sent back to your country. Oh, wait, this is your country. But we still don’t want you here.
The hypocrisy of Ted Cruz’ supporters and the flip manner in which he addressed the concerns is infuriating. “A reporter asked for a copy of my birth certificate so we said, ‘Sure,’ and gave it to him,” Cruz said on the “Laura Ingraham Show” Monday morning. “I will admit I find the tizzy in the media a little bit amusing — the fact that the New York Times is this hysterical after my being in office only a few months.”
How convenient for Ted Cruz that he can find the “tizzy” “amusing.” What a privilege. I bet a lot of DREAM-Act-eligible teenagers who have no hope of a normal future would like to find it amusing that Tea Party-ers like Ted Cruz think they should go back to countries in which they’ve never lived. But they’re too busy dealing with the real consequences of the geographic accidents of their births. So, if Ted Cruz becomes a viable presidential candidate (and here’s hoping that he doesn’t), it would be ironic in the extreme of the geographic accident of his birth should be swept aside so breezily by the very people who exhibit no compassion for so many others in similar circumstances.