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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, I rise today to join my colleagues, Senator NICKLES and LANDRIEU, in introducing this bill, which will profoundly impact generations to come. It will clarify who is eligible to become President of the United States of America. The term "natural born citizen" as used in the Constitution, would be defined as any person born in the United States, any person born outside the United States to citizen parents, and any foreign-born child adopted by citizen parents.

In the absence of a judicial interpretation of constitutional language, Congress can express a legislative interpretation of constitutional terms. In the Naturalization Act of 1790, Congress used this ability to define "natural born" to include children born abroad to citizen parents. Although this language was not kept in the naturalization laws, the ability of Congress to define this term was not challenged.

This bill is intended to further describe the term "natural born citizen" as it relates to Presidential qualification. The Framers used this phrase to support the criteria that the President be loyal and faithful to the United States. Children born to military, or State Department parents living abroad have exceeding loyalty to the United States. They should not be punished for their parents' willingness to serve their country abroad.

Furthermore, internationally adopted children should not bear this penalty either. In recent years, the number of children adopted by Americans from overseas has grown to more than 20,000. They are considered "natural issue" of their adoptive parents and share a similar loyalty to the United States. These children should have the same rights, duties, responsibilities, and privileges as biological children. They should be able to pursue their dreams.

About two and a half years ago, my daughter adopted a little girl from Ethiopia. While my granddaughter shares most freedoms granted by the Constitution with her biologically born brothers, including the freedom of speech, the freedom to worship, and the freedom to pursue happiness, she does not have the freedom to pursue any job she wants. Without this interpretation she does not have the freedom to run for President of the United States.

I urge my colleagues to join in support of this bill to allow all American citizens, no matter where they are born, an equal opportunity to pursue their dreams, including to run for President of the United States.

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