Is Barack Obama a natural-born citizen of the United States? This is a Serious Constitutional Issue, and the Answer is an Absolute, Yes!
By © 2017 Professor Amechi Okolo, PhD.
The above is called the birther question in United States. It is that question of whether Barack Obama was a legitimate president of the US because he is not a natural-born American citizen since US constitution requires that only a “natural-born” citizen can become US president.
The birther question had dogged Barack Obama ever since he became president of the US. Most Americans accept that he is a natural-born American citizen, hence they elected and reelected him president, and he left office on January 20, 2017 with the highest favorable rating of modern presidents. Yet a small band of racists, KKK members, alt-rights, tar-rights and hard-rights, bigots, xenophobes and deplorables that merged as the birthers to deny and denounce and delegitimize Barak Obama’s presidency because he is not a natural-born American citizen.
Donald Trump was the leader of this birther group that nurtured and promoted the idea that Barack Obama was not born in USA and thus denounced, rejected his presidency as illegitimate even after Obama was humiliated to publish his birth certificate showing that he was born in Hawaii in 1961. Donald Trump, even promised to donate 5 million dollars if Obama could publicly show his birth certificate, which Obama did, and I never heard or read anywhere that he donated the five million dollars to charity he promised, if Obama could show his birth certificate. I am not sure whether the con man did not have the money to fulfil his pledge or that his continuing denial of Obama’s presidential birth-right is part of his “smart” strategy to avoid his pledge, just as he admitted during the presidential debate that he did not pay federal income taxes for years because he is “smart.” Whatever, Trump should be made to pay his pledge because a gentleman’s word is his bond.
Obama’s presidency is over now, so it is now a mute issue whether he is a natural-born American citizen or not. However, for academic reasons, and for my students’ sake, I write this to clear the issue, which Donald Trump and his birther group are interested in keeping alive for different inter-related reasons. Donald Trump wants to keep the birther issue alive as part of his “distraction and permanent campaign” strategy which he has found very useful; and the birther group want to keep it alive because it helps to keep and nourish their group cohesion.
Malik Obama, Barack’s estranged half-brother jumped into the fray last week by declaring that his half-brother, Barack was born in Kenya. I am sure that Malik’s statements resulted from family feud and subjective bias, so his claims are politically inconsequential for America, as I will shortly show. I will base my arguments and evidence on the objective conditions and realities of historical American practices.
However, the interesting thing for me here, and the most unfortunate regrettable aspect of the whole melodrama is the paucity of the intellectual rigor which some Americans, pundits have approached the birther question from the beginning. Even though no American supreme court has ever waded in to define what a natural-born American citizen means and for good reasons, the American historical, normal, practice, plus common sense, cum the normal, usual practices of most modern civilized nations clearly show, without any iota of doubt that Barack Obama is a natural-born citizen of the United States.
Fortunately, most Americans correctly made this natural common sense determination that Barack Obama is a natural-born American citizen in 2008 and 2012 when they voted twice to make him president because no amount negative politics or jingoistic, racist xenophobia can change their objective knowledge — what they know, live, and experience every day.
All Americans, including Donald Trump and his racist, bigoted, xenophobes, despite their rantings and pretentions, know the following to be absolute and undeniable truths about American citizenship because we all, who are today correctly living, behaving, believing that we are American citizens just as Barack Obama, Donald Trump, his fellow racists, bigots, xenophobes, etc., among us — have all lived it one time or another.
Yes, granted that the first immigration law passed by the so-called founding fathers, in the new Constitution and Congress, with George Washington as President, the Nationalization Act of March 26, 1790, which stipulated that only free white persons of good character could be citizens of the United States of America was racist, vile, and bigoted we have since transcended such embarrassing, deplorable xenophobe as we aspire to join and even lead the modern free world.
We all today know that we became American citizens in one of the following ways:
1) Because we were born in in USA, irrespective of the immigration status of any or both parents.
2) Because any of our parents was an American citizen at the time of our birth, irrespective of where we were physically born.
3) We acquired legal residence which allowed us to apply and get green card, which then, further allowed us to apply to become American citizens, if the application is approved, we were sworn-in by an approved official, given our Certificate of US Citizenship, and we go on live our lives as US citizenships including applying and receiving our US passports, and we then vote in US elections, but we then know that we cannot be US presidents, which is the only limitation of naturalized citizens.
At this time, it is important to restate the terms and conditions for the important political offices of the US – the House of Representative and the Senate. The Constitution established the Congress with two chambers – the Upper House, the Senate, and the Lower House, the House of Representatives, and set the following as qualifications for them, viz.:
1) House of Representatives:
- a) Must be, at least, 25 years of age
- b) Must have been a citizen for, at least, 7 years, and
- c) Must be a citizen (resident) of the state to represent.
2) For the Senate:
- a) Must be, at least, 30 years old.
- b) Must be a citizen for, at least, 9 years.
- c) Must be a citizen (resident) of the state to represent.
It is important to state that the only US political office restricted to natural-born citizens is the presidency.
Of the three, the first two are natural-born American citizens and can become presidents per the constitution. The third way makes the person an American citizen – with all the rights, duties, and privileges of American citizenship, except the right to become the president.
The above are the three ways through which each of us became American citizen, whether it is Barack Obama or Donald Trump or anyone else, have long been known, settled, and accepted. So why the noise.
- a) Donald Trump and his birther deplorables, questioned and/or keep questioning whether Barack Obama is a natural-born American citizen qualified to become president?
- b) More disappointing, however, is why did the liberals, the Democrats and “Obama supporters” go along with the “authenticity of his birth certificate question?”
- c) Or whether he was born in Hawaii or Kenya?
- d) Or why did the media and the pundits entertain the debauchery of Malik Obama with his Mombasa, Kenya Obama’ birth certificate?
The truth is that none of those things matter. His birth certificate is irrelevant in this case. Whether he was born in Kenya, or Hawaii or anywhere else is irrelevant to prove that he is a natural-born American citizen.
The only thing we needed to know, and I am sure that every engaged, sensible person knows, is that one or both of his parents were American citizens. Specifically, we all know that Barack Obama’s mother was an American citizen – and that alone makes Barack Obama a natural-born American citizen qualified to become president.
Incidentally, most Americans missed the crux of the of the issue including Barack Obama himself, who got fixated and confused with the Donald Trump/birther’s demand for his birth certificate and/or where he was born. These things are irrelevant and unnecessary to show that Barack Obama is a natural-born American citizen. Obama did not need to show us his birth certificate to confirm that he is a natural-born American citizen for, since his mother was an American citizen, he is a natural-born American citizen.
The above means that Barack did not need to suffer the humiliation of publicly showing his birth certificate. Barack should have known that, and ignored the rantings and insinuations of ignorant racists like Donald Trump, his KKK, birther supporters, and even the urgings of the liberals and the so-called Obama supporters.
So, it is clear that the problem Obama and the nation had about his natural-born status was essentially because of Obama’s ignorance cum the racist bigotry and ignorance of Donald Trump, KKK, birthers including even Obama’s supporters, etc.
For example, for Donald Trump whose immigration ancestry is well documented to be raving about Obama is ridiculous and should never have been entertained especially by those liberals, “legitimate journalists, or Obama “supporters” who kept arguing whether his birth certificate was genuine or not. Or asking Trump whether he now believes that Obama was born in Hawaii?
None of those questions mattered. Whatever Trump believed or said about Obama should never have mattered to educated journalists just as whatever Barack Obama said or believed about Donald Trump regarding his qualification to be president since both are natural-born citizens of US per #1 and/or 2 above.
Hence, the so-called legitimate journalists, by promoting, thus legitimizing Trump’s birther questions only confirmed that they are as ignorant as Donald Trump and the whole birther movement. The response informed journalists should have given to Trump and his birther movement should have been that since Barack Obama’s mother was an American citizen we know that he is qualified to be president just like you, Donald Trump.
Thus, Peter Grier, of the Christian Science Monitor, had this interesting article on August 25, 2015 titled, “Donald Trump: The son of an immigrant.’ He wrote as follows:
For a presidential candidate, whose rhetoric about immigrants isn’t exactly welcoming, Donald Trump has a rich personal immigrant history. True, Mr. Trump has said “good people” should be allowed, even encouraged, to move to the US. After the 11 to 12 million undocumented immigrants in the US are deported under a Trump administration, the good people among them “are going to be expedited to come back,” Trump told John Dickerson of CBS News on Sunday. So, it’s not as if Trump just wants to completely wall the nation off. But as Mr. Dickerson pointed out, how do you determine who the “good people” are? It’s not easy. In response to this question Sunday, Trump sidestepped a bit, and mentioned that “we want people to go our colleges,” and that graduates of good US schools shouldn’t be thrown out as soon as they finish a degree.
He further asked:
Does that mean education is a “good person” key? Because under that criterion, a 16-year-old apprentice barber fleeing military service in his homeland, a non-English speaker, with no money, might not qualify. That was Trump’s grandfather: Friedrich Trump (some sources spell the surname “Drumpf”). The teenage Friedrich Trump arrived in New York City on Oct. 17, 1885. He was alone, although his older sister Katherine met him on the dock. They were from the village of Kallstadt in southwestern Germany. Trump prospered in the New World. But it took time and was not easy. With money earned barbering, he eventually struck out West, buying and running diners and inns in Seattle and later British Columbia. Some of these were dives on the rough side of town.
Around 1900, Trump decided to cash out and return to his homeland, permanently. He took his stake back to Germany and married a former neighbor. But the authorities determined that he had become an American and had fled Germany to avoid the army and tax obligations. He and his pregnant bride were expelled. “The Trumps were to be Americans after all,” wrote Gwenda Blair in her book, “The Trumps: Three Generations That Built an Empire.” The couple had a son, Frederick, in New York City, in 1905. This was Donald Trump’s father. His birth in America, and subsequent automatic US citizenship, disproves rumors that The Donald is himself an “anchor baby” born to noncitizen US immigrants.
Yes, Donald Trump was not an anchor baby but his father Fredrick was because when his grandfather was driven out of Kallstadt, Germany, he “had fled Germany to avoid the army and tax obligations,” and that “he and his pregnant bride were expelled.” Thus, Frederick, Donald Trump’s father was born in New York City in 1905, an anchor baby, even though Donald Trump raved against anchor baby and immigrants during his campaign.
Fred Trump’s story is well-documented. Beginning at age 15, he developed modest houses and apartments in New York City’s outer boroughs. He grew rich due to a ferocious work ethic and attention to detail. Fred Trump’s New York Times obituary notes that he concealed his German origins from World War II until the 1980s, maintaining that he was Swedish. He had many Jewish tenants and felt they would be less likely to do business with a German.
In 1930, Fred Trump met a young Scot in New York on holiday, Mary MacLeod. They married in 1936. Born on the Isle of Lewis, Trump’s mother was proud of her Scottish heritage. Nevertheless, she became a US citizen on March 10, 1942. “A patriotic move, it was also prudent for the wife of a man doing wartime construction for [the US military],” wrote Ms. Blair. Donald Trump was born four years later. Unlike some of his siblings, Trump over his lifetime has shown little public interest in his first-generation immigrant mother’s origins. As an adult, his first visit to her hometown was in 2008. He was on his way to testify in Aberdeen in regards to his proposal to build a large golf complex on the grounds of an old estate. “I feel Scottish,” he said after visiting his mother’s ancestral cottage.
Further on Trump and his immigrant wives:
Trump’s final personal link to immigration is, of course, his wives. His first spouse, Ivana Zelnickova, moved to New York from Czechoslovakia in 1976. She wed Trump in 1977. They are the parents of three children, including Ivanka, who introduced Trump at his presidential candidacy announcement. Trump’s third and current wife, Melania Knauss, is a native of Slovenia. Their son was born in 2006. Determining the legal status of these women at the time of their Trump weddings is “challenging,” notes the debunking website Snopes.com. But given they were women of means on their own, and were dating one of the richest men in the country, it’s likely they had established legal status. In any case, their children with Trump were born to a US citizen father. The charge that these kids would have been affected by Trump’s proposal to end birthright citizenship, if it had been in place at the time, is thus untrue, according to Snopes.
Finally, Peter Grier thus, concluded:
A paternal grandfather who seized on the opportunities offered by a youthful nation. A young woman who just happened to meet a young man. A hardworking father who – for a while – thought it best to pretend to be from elsewhere. Exotic foreign beauties. That’s Donald Trump’s American heritage story. Like many such stories, it’s complicated, and it doesn’t involve the Mayflower.
In conclusion, all the people who are accusing Barack Obama are all citizens of US with immigrant backgrounds. The only “fault” I can see that Obama committed, is that he has an African immigrant background. And if Drumpf and his KKK, Alt-right racist backers want to “Make America White Again” per the Nationalization Act of March 26, 1790,” I can only wish them luck. They are living in a fool’s paradise because America is now a multi-racial, heterogenous, multi-religious racially integrated and integrating nation; and we are happy to have evolved and keep evolving that way – in our search for a “more perfect union.”
Finally, the happy truth from someone like myself who has been teaching American students for more than three decades now is that the younger generation will not have it any other way. They are happy with the level of racial integration they met and only wish that the structural racism and white privilege of the system should end because it detracts from everyone happiness, hurts all of us in various ways and minimizes America’s Greatness. Thus, Trump is fundamentally wrong by thinking, promoting that racism, bigotry, and xenophobe makes America Great. No. It doesn’t. Trump is wrong like in many other things.
For example, a young student of mine once was surprised to her of miscegenation. She never heard the word and was even more alarmed, surprised and saddened to know what it meant. That the races were legally prohibited from inter-mixing, inter-racial dating, inter-racial co-habitation, and inter-marriage, etc., until quite recently by the 1967 Supreme Court case in the Loving v Virginia ruling. The student was shocked, ashamed and said that it was crazy.
Yes. These were the basic simple facts of our history, which unfortunately, younger generations do not know; and I believe American schools, especially American professors are not doing enough to help heal and move the nation forward. So, we are doing fine. We have come a long way from our horrible, deplorable, unthinkable days, that mortifies our youths today, but we have to move further, faster, which is why the slogan, “Make America Great Again” by the obviously certified ignoramus Donald Trump is dangerous and must be seriously resisted because America does not want to go back to those “White Only” days.
It was from my experience of decades of being in America’s classrooms, of teaching American students during which I have helped to produce many professors and other useful professionals in America, that I wrote my bestseller, The State of the American Mind: Stupor and Pathetic Docility, Vols. 1 & 2, which I urge every American, students, leaders, politicians, and everyone who wants to know and understand America, and to lead America, to read it.
More importantly, Donald Trump should read the book because it might help wrench him off the buffoonery and idiocy that engulfed him – the state that propelled a group of professionals to declare that he is mentally unfit to be the president, yet even America’s so-called mainstream journalists continue to take him seriously. It is what I call typical white privilege that journalists continue to take Donald Trump seriously, because any black or any other race that showed even a tinkle of the Trump’s outrageous behaviors would have been long stopped, ignored. My point is that the press, the media is largely responsible for the rise of Trump even as he now denounces them as liars and no good.