I don’t remember doing so with any of the minimum wage jobs I’ve had, but in all my professional positions, I had to provide to my employer some form of ID that proved I was eligible to work in the United States. In each of these cases, my U.S. passport was sufficient, but a birth certificate would have also worked. It’s annoying to me that I have to provide proof of citizenship (or a visa that allows employment in the U.S. for non-citizens), but that’s the law passed by the government. And speaking of government, in January of 2009, Senator Barack Obama became President of the United States. If I have to prove my citizenship for my tech job, doesn’t this same requirement apply to the top job in America? In the case of the job of U.S. President, the Constitution specifies the requirements for the position in Article II, Section 1:

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; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

There’s no doubt that President Obama is over 35, and there’s also no problem with his residency in the States. The problem comes from the phrase “natural born Citizen” and what it means. The Constitution never defines it, and there has been some legal wrangling over what constitutes a natural born citizen. So is Obama a natural born citizen? Well, there’s no arguing that he was born of a U.S. citizen mother and British subject father, since Kenya was a British crown colony at the time of Obama’s birth in 1961. If Obama had been born in Kenya or somewhere else outside the States, then U.S. citizenship could still be conferred by his mother’s citizenship, but then the legalities become a bit manky since the law at the time put some restrictions on citizenship that his mother wouldn’t qualify for, as one email I have received puts it:

US Law very clearly stipulates: ‘If only one parent was a U.S. citizen at the time of your birth, that parent must have resided in the United States for at least ten years, at least five of which had to be after the age of 16.’ Barack Obama’s father was not a U.S. citizen and Obama’s mother was only 18 when Obama was born, which means though she had been a U.S. citizen for 10 years, (or citizen perhaps because of Hawaii being a territory) the mother fails the test for being so for at least 5 years **prior to** Barack Obama’s birth, but after age 16. It doesn’t matter after. In essence, she was not old enough to qualify her son for automatic U.S. citizenship. At most, there were only 2 years elapsed since his mother turned 16 at the time of Barack Obama’s birth when she was 18 in Hawaii. His mother would have needed to have been 16+5= 21 years old, at the time of Barack Obama’s birth for him to have been a natural-born citizen. [no, I'm not going to put [sic] after every error. Sheesh. — CM]

Accepting this poorly written email as correct, the law states that his mother would have to be a citizen for at least 10 years, “at least five of which had to be after the age of 16.” Since his mother was 18 when Obama was born, she doesn’t qualify. QED, so call the press and announce Obama isn’t a natural born citizen, right? Well, no. Her age would only matter if Obama were born outside of the United States.

Obama’s birthplace is listed as Honolulu, Hawaii, which makes him a natural born citizen because of his birth, and the age and residency of his mother just doesn’t enter into it. “He wasn’t born in Hawaii, he was born in Kenya, dontchaknow?” Really? Then why are there announcements printed in both the Honolulu Advertiser and Star Bulletin announcing his birth? This makes him a natural born citizen, and the debate is over, right? Wrong. Nothing stops a good story, or even a bad story, if enough people tell it.

“Then-candidate Obama published his birth certificate, showing he was born in Hawaii!” Well, actually, no. He published a certification of live birth, but that is not a birth certificate. And that’s different enough to provide an excuse to continue the debate over his citizenship. But one thing that the certification provides is a location of birth. But we don’t have to just accept that certification. Hawaiian state officials have recently stepped forward to state that they have seen Obama’s actual birth certificate:

“I … have seen the original vital records maintained on file by the Hawaii State Department of Health verifying Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen,” Health Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino said in a brief statement. “I have nothing further to add to this statement or my original statement issued in October 2008 over eight months ago.”

“OK, so he was born in the U.S., but he renounced his citizenship at some point!” I have seen this argument also in emails. Here is the meat of the claim:

Q: Did he travel to Pakistan in 1981, at age 20?
A: YES, by his own admission.
Q: What passport did he travel under?
A: There are only three possibilities:
1. He traveled with a U.S. Passport,
2. He traveled with a British passport, or
3. He traveled with an Indonesia passport.
Q: Is it possible that Obama traveled with a U.S. Passport in 1981?
A: No. It is not possible. Pakistan was on the U.S. State Department’s “no travel” list in 1981.

Conclusion: When Obama went to Pakistan in 1981 he was traveling either with a British passport or an Indonesian passport. If he was traveling with a British passport that would provide proof that he was born in Kenya on August 4, 1961, NOT in Hawaii as he claims. And if he was traveling with an Indonesian passport that would tend to prove that he relinquished whatever previous citizenship he held, British or American, prior to being adopted by his Indonesian step-father in 1967. [Again, presented as I got it -- CM]

There’s just one problem — Pakistan wasn’t on the “no travel” list in 1981. In fact, the State Department had issued a travel advisory in 1981 with regard to visa requirements when entering Pakistan, showing that it was OK for Americans to travel there. So Obama was free to use his American passport, just like anyone else, when he visited.

OK, so where are we in all this? We have a Hawaiian official who has publicly declared seeing Obama’s actual birth certificate and that he was born in Hawaii. There are two announcements posted in Hawaiian newspapers announcing his birth in Hawaii. There is a certification of live birth that, while not being the same thing as a birth certificate, clearly states he was born in Hawaii. And finally, there’s no problem with him having traveled to Pakistan in 1981 with a U.S. passport.

Still think Obama isn’t a natural born citizen? Then try this on for size: when Senator Hillary Clinton saw her support eroding as Obama gained steam during the 2008 primaries, don’t you think she would have released any information she had about Obama being ineligible for the Presidency? She would have had everything to gain and nothing to lose if Obama were shown to be ineligible for the office, but she never came forward with the charge. You may dislike practically everything Obama has done as President, as I do, but I have seen nothing that convinces me that he isn’t eligible for the office. I see plenty to show he’s not ready for the office, but nothing that would legally prevent him from actually holding the office. Besides, if he were ineligible, we would have to deal with the administration of President Biden. *shudder*

So why the big brouhaha over his birth certificate? Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent defending Obama against the many lawsuits brought forward asking that he prove his status as a natural born citizen of the United States. These lawsuits could be satisfied and easily dealt with if Obama were to produce his actual birth certificate, but instead he has chosen to fight them. Why spend the money, time, and effort to fight these lawsuits when they could be dismissed with the brandishing of a single document? Could this be a hornet-trap kept active by the democrats to lure in and force conservatives to waste their time on this issue rather than letting conservatives fight them on other more challenging issues?

Perhaps it’s just the American tendency to believe in the concept of equality under the law, but I would like to have Obama, and anyone else who is elected to any position in government, prove that he is legally eligible to serve in that office. After all, when I got my job, I had to prove I was eligible to work there. It just makes sense to me that people in government should be held to the same standards they hold other people to.

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