In many countries of the world, actually in most countries of the world, the position of the supreme commander of that nation can only be a person who was born in that country. The reason behind this requirement is that it is feared that someone who has such immediate blood ties to another country may not be willing to take arms against that nation should the two countries be at war. The United States Constitution forbids anyone who was not born in America from becoming President. Article 2 of that document states: "No person except a natural born Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of the President" (United). This is also true for the position of Vice-President of the United States since if the President becomes incapacitated the Vice-President will take over the role of the highest office of the land. Since the creation of the Constitution, certain factions have argued against this component of the document and demanded that this requirement for the office be removed. The discrepancy is between native-born and naturalized citizens. The Constitution states that only people who are born in the United States can ever become President. Someone who becomes a naturalized citizen of the U.S. has all the rights of a natural-born citizen with the exception of not being able to run for either of these offices (Schultz 35). Many people have argued that this particular Article of the U.S. Constitution is outdated and a remnant of the Continental Congress.
When the Founding Fathers were writing the Constitution, they wanted to make sure that their new nation would be run by a person who was beyond the influence of England, from whom they had just separated. They feared that putting in a man who had been born in England or France could detract from the new authority of the American government and put the fledgling nation in jeopardy. Although the United States is not in current danger of once again become part of England, nor of other nations using the Executive Branch to take over the country, there is still a danger of international influence within the United States government should a foreign-born person take the office of either the U.S. President or Vice-President. Certainly modifications are required to the current popular understanding of the Constitution given that there are some people excluded from nomination who should not be, but foreign-born citizens should still not be able to hold the position of President or Vice-President of the United States.
There have been attempts made to try to force Congress to pass an Amendment which would alter the Constitution and allow for foreign-born people to run for president. So far, no Amendment which suggests altering the provision in the Constitution about the birth status of the potential President has gotten to the floor of the House of Representatives, let alone have been passed. The 14th Amendment of the Constitution did allow that every person who is born in the United States, no matter what the citizenship status of the parent, can be classified as a citizen of the U.S. Even men and women who were born to illegal immigrants are natural-born citizens of the United States and thus meet the requirement to run for President of the United States (McLaughlin 496). This was a nearly-unprecedented decision and made it more difficult to deport illegal immigrants since they had citizens for children. The United States has tried very hard to welcome immigration and embrace those who choose to live in this country. Still people who are born outside of the United States cannot become the President and they, as well as their supporters, feel that this is unfair. Those who support foreign-born presidential candidates point to the fact that legal offspring of illegal citizens have more rights than people who have been in the country for lengthy periods of time.
Author Larry Sabato writes in his book A More Perfect Constitution that the current laws regarding eligibility for the presidency are unfair. He argues that since the Constitutional Convention was over two hundred years ago, it is impossible to determine what the Founding Fathers intended by declaring only a "natural-born citizen" could hold the office of the Presidency (Sabato 105). The current interpretation of the Constitution rules out 14.4 million people who have been United States citizens for many years but were not born in the United States. There are even people who were born United States citizens who might be barred from taking the office of the Presidency because of a misinterpretation of the term "natural-born citizen." Saboto says:
Under a prevailing interpretation of the "natural-born" test, many thousands of American citizens who were born abroad while their parents were visiting or doing church missionary work in foreign lands are excluded from the presidency. So, too, are those born while their parents were stationed abroad while serving in the U.S. military or civilian government jobs, such as diplomatic or intelligence agencies (106).
These strict interpretations of the Constitution have limited potentially excellent world leaders who were unfortunately not born under the right circumstances. A person who was born a citizen of the United States should have the same rights as any other citizen no matter where they were physically born.
Sabato goes on to argue that it makes no sense for people who are foreign-born to be barred from the Presidency because of their birth when they have performed successfully in other offices. People who were born in other countries but spent a substantial amount of their lives as United States citizens have held positions of authority throughout the country, such as Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright, and former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger. Some people in the Republic Party sought to push Schwarzenegger into the running for the Presidency based on his popularity in California while governor. This would have necessitated a change of the Constitution. Arnold Schwarzenegger was an actor in his native Austria and when he came to the U.S. For a film role, he became a legal citizen. Schwarzenegger has been a United States citizen for more than thirty years. However, the concern is that even people who have lived in the U.S. For prolonged periods will still not be as invariably loyal to the U.S. As those who are native-born.
Having a President with ties to another foreign land also affects foreign policy. Looking again to the Schwarzenegger case, since he was born in Austria and immigrated to the United States, it can be inferred that he would be interesting in strengthening ties between the two nations, even if allying ourselves with that nation was not in the best interest of the United States. From there, it is not much of a leap to assume that there would be favoritism towards that one ally from the Executive Branch. Should there be an occasion where problems broke out between another allied country and the President's homeland, there would be a likely conflict of interest in his or her decision making. Also, what would happen if the United States had to engage in war with the home country of its President? Would the President be able to cast his personal feelings aside and allow the nation that raised him to be done battle with by United States soldiers? This too would be a severe conflict of interest and would make the President and the government vulnerable. The President is the most powerful individual in the free world and the American citizens have to rely on that person to serve the people's best interests, even if those are not his or her own wishes. It becomes harder to put that kind of blind faith in an individual…