Unless the Texas Republican senator formally renounces that citizenship, he will remain a citizen of both countries, legal experts say.
That means he could assert the right to vote in Canada or even run for Parliament. On a lunch break from the U.S. Senate, he could head to the nearby embassy — the one flying a bright red maple leaf flag — pull out his Calgary, Alberta, birth certificate and obtain a passport.
“He’s a Canadian,” said Toronto lawyer Stephen Green, past chairman of the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section.
The circumstances of Cruz’s birth have fueled a simmering debate over his eligibility to run for president. Knowingly or not, dual citizenship is an apparent if inconvenient truth for the tea party firebrand, who shows every sign he’s angling for the White House.
“Senator Cruz became a U.S. citizen at birth, and he never had to go through a naturalization process after birth to become a U.S. citizen,” said spokeswoman Catherine Frazier. “To our knowledge, he never had Canadian citizenship, so there is nothing to renounce.”
The U.S. Constitution allows only a “natural born” American citizen to serve as president. Most legal scholars who have studied the question agree that includes an American born overseas to an American parent, such as Cruz.
The Constitution says nothing about would-be presidents born with dual citizenship.
Detractors have derided Cruz as “Canadian Ted,” saying he can’t run for president because he wasn’t born on U.S. soil.
Cruz, a Harvard-trained lawyer and former clerk for the U.S. chief justice, disagrees. He reasserted last week that being an American by birth makes him eligible.
Two visits in recent weeks to Iowa, the first state to winnow the field of presidential candidates, set off a fresh flurry of commentary on the issue. He heads to New Hampshire, another early voting state, on Friday — another strong sign that he’s eyeing a 2016 run.
The political impact of his citizenship status remains to be seen. Doubts about President Barack Obama’s heritage dogged him throughout 2008 and persist among hardcore “birthers.”
Officials at Citizenship and Immigration Canada said that without a signed privacy waiver from Cruz, they cannot discuss his case.
“Generally speaking, under the Citizenship Act of 1947, those born in Canada were automatically citizens at birth unless their parent was a foreign diplomat,” said ministry spokeswoman Julie Lafortune.
For the first time, Cruz released his birth certificate Friday in response to inquiries from The Dallas Morning News.
Dated a month after his birth on Dec. 22, 1970, it shows that Rafael Edward Cruz was born to Rafael Bienvenido Cruz, a “geophysical consultant” born in Matanzas, Cuba, and the former Eleanor Elizabeth Wilson, born in Wilmington, Del.
Her status made the baby a U.S. citizen at birth. For that, U.S. law required at least one parent who was a U.S. citizen who had lived for at least a decade in the United States.
She registered his birth with the U.S. consulate, Frazier said, and the future senator received a U.S. passport in 1986 ahead of a high school trip to England.
Rafael Cruz, now a pastor in suburban Dallas, fled Cuba for Texas as a teen in 1957. He remained a Cuban citizen until he became a naturalized American in 2005.
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