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Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, says he did not do it for the “Terminator,” but his proposed bill would allow foreign-born citizens such as actor Arnold Schwarzenegger to run for president of the United States.
“I believe the time has come to address the antiquated provision of the constitution that requires our president to be a natural-born citizen,” said Hatch, according to the Herald News of Fall River, Mass. “It has long outlived its original purpose.”
Hatch’s bill, introduced last week, would allow anyone who has been a citizen of the United States for 20 years to run for the highest office.
The senator said it’s “most disturbing” that “scores of foreign-born men and women who have risked their lives defending the freedoms and liberties of this great nation” are ineligible for the presidency, the Herald News reported.
Article II of the Constitution says, “No Person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of president.”
Some scholars believe the Founding Fathers’ prohibition still makes sense.
Forrest McDonald, a retired history professor, noted the crafters of the Constitution were aware that 15 years before the nation’s founding, foreign operatives from Russia, Prussia and Austria tried to influence Poland’s monarchy in an attempt to carve up the country between them, the Associated Press said.
McDonald also doesn’t like Austrian-born Schwarzenegger, who is considering a run for governor of California.
“I’m scared of the man,” McDonald told the AP.
Hatch insisted the bill is strictly public policy, with no ties to any individual.
The House has a similar bill that would require a foreign-born citizen to wait 35 years before running for president.
Raimundo Delgado of New Bedford, Mass., said he has been pushing for such an amendment for more than two decades.
“This is a historical step,” he told the Herald News.
“We might be able to see this change in my lifetime,” said Delgado, who testified on the issue before a congressional subcommittee.
Last year he supported a bill by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., that failed to make it through the House Judiciary Committee.