The Miami Herald
December 12, 2004
TO ALL U.S. CITIZENS?
Mario Díaz-Balart can be president, but his older brother Lincoln cannot. The U.S.
Constitution says so.
That's because there's an important difference in where the two Miami congressmen were
born: Lincoln Díaz-Balart in Havana, Cuba; his brother in Fort Lauderdale, after the family
fled the Castro revolution.
The Constitution bars foreign-born citizens from becoming president, which also rules out two
governors of large states: Democrat Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, born in Canada, and
Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger, a California Republican.
Now, because of Schwarzenegger's political rock-star status, a campaign to amend the
Constitution to make naturalized citizens eligible for the presidency is gaining attention,
though not necessarily support.
The prohibition was included in the Constitution because the framers worried that European
powers would meddle in the young republic and even try to restore a monarchy.
So in 1787, they wrote Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5, specifying that ``no person except a
natural born citizen'' was eligible to be president. The presidency and vice presidency are the
only two offices barred to the foreign-born.
AN UN-AMERICAN RULE?
Critics see that prohibition as archaic and, in the 21st century, even xenophobic. With 12.8
million naturalized citizens, they say it's time to drop the ban - whether it's for a certain ex-
bodybuilder-turned-governor or millions of young, new Americans.
``It's an anachronism, and decidedly un-American,'' said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman who held a hearing in October on his proposed
amendment to end the ban.
The Constitution ``tells immigrants they are somehow flawed,'' said Rep. Barney Frank, D-
Mass., a leading immigration advocate.
The issue resonates in Miami-Dade County, where half of the residents are foreign-born, and
Broward, where 28 percent are immigrants.
``This may be largely symbolic, but all the new immigrants in Florida and other states can't