WASHINGTON – Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz announced Monday evening that he will renounce his Canadian citizenship, less than 24 hours after a newspaper pointed out that the Canadian-born senator likely maintains dual citizenship.
“Now the Dallas Morning News says that I may technically have dual citizenship,” Cruz said. “Assuming that is true, then sure, I will renounce any Canadian citizenship. Nothing against Canada, but I’m an American by birth and as a U.S. senator; I believe I should be only an American.”
The Dallas Morning News wrote in a story posted late Sunday night that Cruz likely remains a Canadian citizen, by virtue of being born there to an American mother. Having never renounced that citizenship, Cruz was technically a Canadian and an American citizen, according to legal experts.
Cruz said his mother told him he could claim his citizenship if he ever wanted to, but he never pursued it and thought the matter was settled. Legal experts say that Cruz is a Canadian citizen regardless of whether he asked for it or not.
Cruz, who released his birth certificate as part of the Morning News story, accused the media of focusing on trivial issues.
The release — combined with Cruz’s recent travel to Iowa — has reanimated the debate over whether he qualifies to serve as U.S. president since he was foreign-born. Most legal scholars say yes, but they also say it’s not 100 percent clear. Immediately, parallels were drawn to President Barack Obama’s 2011 release of his own birth certificate, which also was meant to end lingering questions about his eligibility to be president.
Questions about Cruz’s eligibility have everything to do with interpretation of the law; the questions about Obama’s eligibility had everything to do with a dispute over the underlying facts — more specifically, conspiracy theories about whether the president was actually born in the United States, as he claimed, and whether he somehow forged a birth certificate that said he was born in Hawaii.
In Cruz’s case, nobody is disputing the underlying facts of the case — that Cruz was born in Canada to a Cuban father and a mother who was a U.S. citizen. That makes him a U.S. citizen himself, but it’s not 100 percent clear that that is the same thing as a “natural born citizen” — the requirement for becoming president.
Most scholars think it’s the same thing, and the Congressional Research Service said in 2011 that someone like Cruz “most likely” qualifies to run for president. But to this point, there is no final word from the courts, because while foreign-born candidates have run — including George Romney and John McCain — none of them has actually won and had his eligibility challenged.