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The birther controversy was the worst.

Not only was the horrible lie that President Obama is not a citizen thinly veiled racism masquerading as an “integrity” movement — much like voter ID — it was also nonsense. Even if President Obama had been born in Kenya — he wasn’t — he still would be a citizen.

Why? His mother was a citizen.

The same is true for Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). Cruz — like the 2008 Republican nominee for president John McCain — was born out of the country. McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone, where his family was stationed with the U.S. Navy, but for some reason his citizenship never became much of an issue. Cruz’s mother was an American citizen when he was born in Canada, as his birth certificate shows, making him a U.S. citizen — and a Canadian citizen eligible for that country’s free universal health care.

“My mother was born in Wilmington, Delaware. She’s a US citizen, so I’m a US citizen,” he told ABC’s This Week. “I’m not going to engage in a legal debate. The facts are clear. I can tell you where I was born and who my parents were. And then as a legal matter, others can worry about that. I’m not going to engage.”

This should be the end of the discussion. And it likely would be if Cruz had the last name “McCain” or a fairer complexion. But Ted Cruz already has birthers — including possibly the world’s most famous birthers, Orly Taitz and Donald Trump. And those conspiracy theorists have a much more complex situation to deal with than those who hounded President Obama.

Cruz announced that he would be renouncing his Canadian citizenship earlier this year. To do this he’ll have to prove that he is indeed a citizen of the United States. That should be simple. But as a child of one citizen, Cruz’s birth falls under the Immigration and Nationality Act that applies to “Birth Abroad to One Citizen and One Alien Parent.”

Salon‘s Steven Lubet explains:

Under that provision, Cruz only qualifies for American citizenship if his mother was “physically present” in the United States for 10 years prior to his birth, five of which had to be after she reached the age of 14. The only definitive way to prove Eleanor Cruz’s 10 years of physical presence would be with documents such as leases, school registration, utility bills or tax records.

Lubet’s reading of the law does contrast with a report from the Congressional Research Service.

“The weight of scholarly legal and historical opinion appears to support the notion that ‘natural born Citizen’ means one who is entitled under the Constitution or laws of the United States to U.S. citizenship ‘at birth’ or ‘by birth,’ including any child born ‘in’ the United States, the children of United States citizens born abroad, and those born abroad of one citizen parents who has met U.S. residency requirements,” according to the Congressional Research Service’s Jack Maskell.

So the eligibility requirements will be tougher for him to renounce his Canadian citizenship than to run for president.

Obama birthers’ only case was their irrational suspicion of Obama, who had proof he was born in the United States. Ted Cruz’s birthers may actually have a point. But ultimately they’ll likely fail too — at least, I hope they do.

The junior senator from Texas would be my dream GOP candidate in 2016.

Photo: Patrick Feller via Flickr.com

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Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

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