Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Birther Nation: "I Want My Country Back"

Let's start at the beginning: Barack Hussein Obama II, our nation's 44th and current President, was born on August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii. As in, Hawaii of the United States. As in, the United States of America. See birth certificate (pictured right).

Back in December of last year I wrote a piece addressing the uproar of lawsuits seeking to contest the validity of Obama's citizenship in courtrooms across America. Naturally, all of them were dismissed on frivolous grounds. A few (see e.g. Donofrio v. Wells) even made it to the U.S. Supreme Court for review, but were likewise dismissed. (but boy did it ever fire up the right-wing blogosphere during those 5 or so days before Donofrio got dismissed!!! They were ready to hang their hat on that one.)

Recently, a resurgence of the conspiracy sentiment long forgotten has risen once again much like the monster in an old horror movie that just won't die. They call themselves "Birthers." (a nickname apparently derived from the disbelief in Obama's "birth"). One such "birther" was featured on Rachel Maddow a few weeks ago:

However, before we laugh this lady away as a joke, an admittedly liberal website known as the Daily Kos conducted a poll during the last week of July 2009 that had some very interesting results: only 42% of Republicans believe that Obama is a natural born citizen, 28% said they did not believe Obama was born in the United States and 30% said they were unsure. Further, only 47% of respondents in the South (Democrats, Republicans and Independents combined) said they believed Obama was born in America, with 23% saying flat out that he was not and 30% saying they were unsure. Considering the no-brainer difficulty level in determining where somebody was born, these are rather significant percentages of doubt. (By the way - over 90% of those polled in the Northeast and Midwest believe Obama is a U.S. citizen)

Is You Is or Is You Ain't Hawaiian?

The law on American citizenship is pretty straight forward, but doesn't really help to combat those who refuse to believe Obama was born in Hawaii, or those like Andy Martin who believe that somehow Hawaii is involved in an elaborate cover up to protect the "truth" about Obama's birth certificate.

So as a threshold matter, you either concede that the State of Hawaii is telling the truth (thus Obama is a citizen of the U.S.), or you believe that the State is lying (thus, he is not).

However, even for those who concede that the State of Hawaii is telling the truth (that Obama was born there) there is yet another layer to their rabbit hole of an argument: Obama was born in America but (i) due to his father's Kenyan-British citizenship, Obama lost his U.S. citizenship because of the dual-citizenship rule, or (ii) Obama lost his citizenship when he moved to Indonesia with his mother and her new husband, Lolo Soetoro.

In re Kenyan Citizenship Theory

This theory is quickly debunked when the appropriate law is applied to the facts. The law suits against Obama that allege his dual U.S.-Kenyan citizenship have all incorrectly cited section (g) of 8 U.S.C. §1401 which, during the relevant time, provided that: "The following shall be nationals and citizens of the United States at birth: (g) a person born outside the geographical limits of the United States..." Section (g) does not apply here, as Obama was born in Hawaii and this section applies to people born outside of the United States. The applicable section would be section (a) which provides: "(a) a person born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof [is considered a citizen of the United States]."

Furthermore, Chapter 6 section 97 of the Kenyan Constitution prohibits dual citizenship for anybody past the age of 21. Even assuming that Obama at one time held either Kenyan citizenship or dual U.S.-Kenyan citizenship, it automatically terminated upon Obama's 21st birthday, August 4, 1982. In order for Obama to have retained any alleged Kenyan citizenship, pursuant to the Kenyan Constitution, he would have had to formally renounce his U.S. citizenship as an adult. There is no evidence, sworn statement or any record whatsoever of this ever occurring either before or after 1982.

In re Indonesian Citizenship Theory

Again, this theory is easily debunked when the appropriate law is applied to the facts. Pursuant to the Immigration & Nationality Act of 1952, which was in effect in the late 1960s when Obama went to Indonesia, Title III, Chapter 3, Sections 349 and 355 state that a minor does not lose his U.S. citizenship upon the naturalization of his parents or any other actions of his parents, so long as the minor returns to the U.S. and establishes permanent U.S. residency before the age of 25.* Seeing as how Obama had not only established permanent U.S. residency but had also completed his undergraduate degree at Columbia University in New York City by the time he was 25, even if his mother had lost her U.S. citizenship while living in Indonesia, Obama did not lose his. That is the law, folks.

In Conlclusion

The "Birther Nation" has only succeeded in proving one thing: that they can't read.

* - the current Immigration & Nationality Act has amended the age to 21.
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