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Plan killed to make 'naturalized' citizens eligible

A congressional committee deliberated only five years ago a plan that would have opened the door to allowing immigrants and others who do not qualify as “natural born” citizens in the United States entry into the Oval Office – but ended up killing the plan.

One of the advocates for the plan was Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., whose comments still are available in an audio file posted at Talk Radio News.

“I believe in the right of the people to choose as they wish. People say, ‘Well you’re amending the Constitution.’ The fact is in 1789 the notion of direct democracy was not the one that governed,” the congressman said.

“Clearly in terms of world history the people who came to the American continent … they went for the first time to self governance, but they didn’t go all the way. We have evolved substantially since that time, I think in a good direction,” he said.

“We do have now this major obstacle in the way of the voters, and we say to them, ‘We don’t trust you, you could get fooled, I mean, they might, some foreign country might sucker you by getting some slick person and mole him into the United States or her and get that person citizenship and then years later have that person get elected president and you’ll be too dumb to notice.’

“I don’t think that’s accurate and I don’t think that ought to be the governing principle. I really believe that the people of the United States ought to have the right to elect as president of the United States someone they wish,” he said.

The hearing was held Oct. 5, 2004, by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on the subject of “Maximizing voter choice: Opening the president to naturalized Americans.”

The proposal was before the questions over Barack Obama’s birth place – and therefore eligibility to be president under the Constitution’s demand for a “natural born” citizen in the Oval Office – became an issue.

Among those providing testimony on the proposal were Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah; Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and several experts.

“What is a natural born citizen? Clearly, someone born within the
United States or one of its territories is a natural born citizen. But
a child who is adopted from a foreign country to American parents
in the United States is not eligible for the presidency. Now, that
does not seem fair or right to me,” Hatch said, according to a transcript of the proceedings.

“Similarly, it is unclear whether a child born to a U.S. serviceman
overseas would be eligible.”

He cited both a constitutional amendment as well as proposed legislative resolutions that were written to change that.

“This restriction has become an anachronism that is decidedly
un-American. Consistent with our democratic form of government,
our citizens should have every opportunity to choose their
leaders free of unreasonable limitations. Indeed, no similar restriction
bars any other critical members of the government from holding
office, including the Senate, the House of Representatives, the
United States Supreme Court, or the president’s most trusted cabinet
officials,” he said.

Instead of seeing a need to limit the chief executive of the United States to someone with a “natural born” loyalty, he said, “The history of the United States is replete with scores of great
and patriotic Americans whose dedication to this country is beyond
reproach, but who happen to have been born outside of our borders.”

Then-Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., submitted testimony that he thought a statutory change could facilitate plans to allow “naturalized” citizens to be eligible to be president.

“Many Americans would
probably be surprised to learn that a constitutional question remains
as to whether a child born abroad to a U.S. citizen serving
in the military or serving at a government post are not clearly, indisputably
eligible to seek the highest office in our land. Nor is it
clear whether a child born overseas to a citizen traveling or working
abroad is eligible to run for president. There are strong legal
arguments that say these children are eligible, but it certainly is
not an inarguable point,” he said.

He continued, “Some citizens are ineligible to transmit citizenship to a biological
child born abroad because of a failure to meet certain statutory criteria
such as having lived in the United States for 5 years, 2 of
which had to be after the age of 14,” he noted.

Testimony submitted by Matthew Spalding of the Heritage Foundation raised some concerns.

“The attachment of the president must be absolute, and absolute
attachment comes most often from being born and raised in – and
educated and formed by – this country, unalloyed by other native
allegiances. The natural born citizen requirement for the presidency
seeks to guarantee, as much as possible, this outcome where
it matters most,” he said.

“The question is whether you
can expand the eligibility to non-native-born citizens without undermining
the wisdom and caution inherent in the framers’ design.
One proxy would be a significant citizenship requirement, along
with a significantly increased residency requirement. How much?
The question is enough to approximate the attachment that comes
with having lived in America for almost all of one’s life, thus fundamentally
shaped by this regime, its history, institutions, and way
of life. The average of 20th century presidents is 54. A 35-year citizenship
requirement, combined with a residency requirement increase,
would assure that most would-be presidents are citizens before
they are 18 years old and residents for much of the time thereafter,” he submitted.

But he said opening the presidency to naturalized citizens raises the question of dual citizenship that must be addressed, there must be a deliberate effort to teach American traditions and any such move should be implemented years out to take out politics.

The issue of Obama’s eligibility is significant, since there are a number of lawsuits alleging that if he was not born in the U.S., he does not meet the requirement in the Constitution that the president be a “natural born” citizen.

Those lawsuits continue in several parts of the country, and in fact a California federal judge has scheduled a trial on the dispute to begin in January.

WND has reported on dozens of legal challenges to Obama’s status as a “natural born citizen.” The Constitution, Article 2, Section 1, states, “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 of the lawsuits question whether he was actually born in Hawaii, as he insists. If he was born out of the country, Obama’s American mother, the suits contend, was too young at the time of his birth to confer American citizenship to her son under the law at the time.

Other challenges have focused on Obama’s citizenship through his father, a Kenyan subject to the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom at the time of his birth, thus making him a dual citizen. The cases contend the framers of the Constitution excluded dual citizens from qualifying as natural born.

Complicating the situation is Obama’s decision to spend sums exceeding $1 million to avoid releasing an original long-form state birth certificate that would put to rest the questions.

WND also has reported that among the documentation not yet available for Obama includes his kindergarten records, Punahou school records, Occidental College records, Columbia University records, Columbia thesis, Harvard Law School records, Harvard Law Review articles, scholarly articles from the University of Chicago, passport, medical records, files from his years as an Illinois state senator, his Illinois State Bar Association records, any baptism records and his adoption records.

Because of the dearth of information about Obama’s eligibility, WND founder Joseph Farah has launched a campaign to raise contributions to post billboards asking a simple question: “Where’s the birth certificate?”

“Where’s The Birth Certificate?” billboard at the Mandalay Bay resort on the Las Vegas Strip

The campaign followed a petition that has collected more than 475,000 signatures demanding proof of his eligibility, the availability of yard signs raising the question and the production of permanent, detachable magnetic bumper stickers asking the question.

The “certification of live birth” posted online and widely touted as “Obama’s birth certificate” does not in any way prove he was born in Hawaii, since the same “short-form” document is easily obtainable for children not born in Hawaii. The true “long-form” birth certificate – which includes information such as the name of the birth hospital and attending physician – is the only document that can prove Obama was born in Hawaii, but to date he has not permitted its release for public or press scrutiny.

Oddly, though congressional hearings were held to determine whether Sen. John McCain was constitutionally eligible to be president as a “natural born citizen,” no controlling legal authority ever sought to verify Obama’s claim to a Hawaiian birth.

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