GOP turmoil raises questions for candidates born to immigrants

Are Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and  Bobby Jinda Natural Born Citizens?

With three words Donald Trump not only reignited a fiery debate within the Republican Party but prompted an awkward question within the historically diverse 2016 GOP field.

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If a candidate believes the United States should "end birthright citizenship," as Trump wrote in his immigration policy document, does that also mean that politicians born to non-citizen parents, like Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, should still be considered Americans who are eligible to run for president?

Trump and the other Republican candidates who have backed his call to disallow the granting of automatic citizenship to anyone born in the United States, have focused their argument on the children of immigrants in the United States undocumented.

But the notion of changing the Fourteenth Amendment, which states that "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside," raises questions about what a parent's status should say about the fate of their U.S.-born child.

Jindal's parents arrived in the United States from India in 1971, a few months before he was born. They traveled on a green card secured through Jindal's father, an engineer who qualified for a visa for the "professional or highly skilled."

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Rubio, whose rise from humble beginnings to political prestige is a key part of his campaign pitch, is the son of two Cuban parents who were in the country legally at the time that Rubio was born in Miami in 1971.

 

The Florida senator has rejected calls to overhaul the Fourteenth Amendment. But his campaign also notes that Rubio's parents did not "abuse" the promise of birthright citizenship, as Trump and others in the Republican Party have suggested some immigrants do.

Fellow Floridian and GOP rival Jeb Bush, who has voiced support for maintaining birthright citizenship, noted that a change to the Fourteenth Amendment would impact "talented" people like Rubio.

Bush also cited Cruz as another candidate who would be impacted by a revocation of birthright citizenship. But that's incorrect; Cruz was born to an American citizen mother in Calgary, Canada.

Both Cruz and Jindal have said they support Trump's call to end birthright citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants.

But both have also taken action to address concerns from some conservatives about their own eligibility to serve as president due to their parents' identity as immigrants to the United States.

And in 2011, Jindal released his birth certificate, shortly after President Barack Obama released his own "long-form" documentation to quell questions about his birthplace.

The man who most pressured Obama to make that move? Donald Trump.

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