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Why Texas Sen. Ted Cruz had to renounce his Canadian citizenship

Americans want their presidents to bleed red, white, and blue, not maple syrup. But even after his pledge to renounce citizenship, Canada-born Ted Cruz could still face questions from birthers. 

By Staff writer / August 20, 2013

Sen. Ted Cruz (R) of Texas speaks during the family leadership summit in Ames, Iowa, on Aug. 10. Senator Cruz said in a statement on Aug. 19 that he will renounce his Canadian citizenship, following a report by The Dallas Morning News that he holds dual US and Canadian citizenship.

Justin Hayworth/AP

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WASHINGTON

No offense, Canada, but native son Ted Cruz doesn’t want you.

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The freshman Republican senator from Texas – and possible 2016 presidential candidate – announced Monday evening he is renouncing the Canadian citizenship that, until just a few days ago, he didn’t think he had.

Yes, Senator Cruz was born in Canada, and thus automatically a Canadian citizen. But he was born to an American mother – the former Eleanor Wilson, born in Wilmington, Del. – and that makes Cruz a “natural born” citizen in the eyes of most legal experts. That phrase – natural-born citizen – appears in the Constitution as one of the eligibility requirements for the US presidency.

Still, “birtherism” is likely to dog Cruz anyway, as it has President Obama. More on that in a minute.

Having acknowledged in a statement Monday that he “may technically have dual citizenship,” following a report in The Dallas Morning News, Cruz took the expected next step: to say that he will give up the Canadian part.

“Nothing against Canada, but I’m an American by birth and as a US senator, I believe I should be only an American,” Cruz said.

As a political matter, that belief would logically be extra-strong for anyone thinking of running for president. After all, Americans want their presidents to bleed red, white, and blue, not maple syrup.

But would holding dual American-Canadian citizenship have prevented Cruz from legally running for president? There’s no clear answer, since the Constitution is silent on that question, and the courts have not addressed it.

Chances are, anyone in Cruz’s situation – that is, born outside the US to at least one American citizen in a country, like Canada, that automatically confers birthright citizenship – would do what he did: Give up the non-American citizenship for political reasons. That takes care of the legal question before it reaches a courtroom.

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