Ted Cruz, Canadian-American

The Texas senator is a dual citizen, but only for as long as he wants to be.


Ted Cruz's birth certificate, as released exclusively to The Dallas Morning News Sunday.

From "Blame Canada" to "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative," Americans love to mock their large, icy neighbor to the North, aboot whom they often know very little but the occasional lilting of their accents? That impulse toward good-humored, neighborly ribbing has met something a little darker in today's Republican Party, where some are asking whether or not Senator Ted Cruz of Texas is fully American because of the circumstances of his birth in Canada to an American citizen, Eleanor Elizabeth Wilson. That led Cruz to release his birth certificate Sunday, proving his American lineage to any doubters.

The fact of the matter is, Rafael Edward Cruz is and has always been an American citizen by birth. But it is also the case that Rafael Edward Cruz, unless and until he successfully completes a Canadian-citizenship-renunciation process, is and has been a dual citizen of Canada, as all individuals born in Canada to American parents are, with a few narrow exceptions.

"Unless their parents were foreign diplomats ... they are automatically citizens at birth" under the Canadian Citizenship Act of 1947, said Chris Plunkett, a spokesman for the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

"Anyone who has not formally renounced their citizenship remains a Canadian citizen," he said. On this the law is clear.

Cruz's office was not able to confirm that he had renounced his citizenship, and declined to comment more extensively.

If Cruz wanted to rid himself of the pesky questions raised by being a dual-national with presidential ambitions, it shouldn't be too onerous a process, though it could take a while. He would seem to be eligible to renounce Canadian citizenship, and he can easily download and fill out the application to renounce it from the government of Canada, for a processing fee.

That done, pesky questions about his citizenship and dual national status might subside some. Indeed, the biggest risk to Cruz of the Cruz birther movement is not that people will think him ineligible to be president, but that they will look at him as Canadian-American, rather than Cuban-American, so long as he retains both American and Canadian citizenship. The prospect of a Latino conservative Republican president is exciting; a Canadian one, less so.

If Cruz wants to renounce his Canadian citizenship in time to have things settled for a presidential bid, he'll need to get started on that soon. Application processing almost never takes less than a year and can take up to two, according to Rudolf Kischer, a Canadian immigration expert and attorney with Maynard Kischer Stojicevic in Vancouver, British Columbia.

It's not something people do often, Kischer said, but when they do, they tend to do it for a cause that should be near and dear to Cruz's heart. "The ones I see, most are for tax reasons," said Kischer.

Update: Cruz said late Monday that he will renounce his Canadian citizenship: "Now the Dallas Morning News says that I may technically have dual citizenship. Assuming that is true, then sure, I will renounce any Canadian citizenship. Nothing against Canada, but I'm an American by birth and as a U.S. Senator, I believe I should be only an American."

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Garance Franke-Ruta is a former senior editor covering national politics at The Atlantic.

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