Ariz. 'birthers' see tie to birthright citizenship

The Associated Press
Wednesday, March 23, 2011; 9:12 PM

PHOENIX -- Legislation that would require proof of U.S. birth from presidential candidates is intersecting in Arizona with the question of whether U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants are entitled to automatic citizenship.

The proposed legislation on documentation requirements for candidates asks for information on the citizenship of a candidate's parents. Tea party backers said Wednesday they believe people are only natural-born citizens if their parents are citizens.

"The term 'natural-born' has nothing to do" with location of birth, said Jeff Lichter of the Greater Phoenix Tea Party.

A Senate committee on Wednesday endorsed the bill after deleting the provision on citizenship of a candidate's parents, but it remains in a version approved Tuesday by a House panel.

President Barack Obama's name was hardly mentioned during either committee hearing, but Democratic Rep. Eric Meyer of Paradise Valley said it's apparent the issue "still stems in some way from the last election."

Hawaii officials have certified that Obama was born in that state, but "birthers" have demanded additional proof, asserting that Obama could have been born in his father's home country, Kenya. Obama's mother was an American citizen.

The issue came up across the country Wednesday when Donald Trump, appearing on ABC's "The View," said he wanted the president to "show his birth certificate."

"There's something on that birth certificate that he doesn't like," said Trump, who is considering a run for the Republican presidential nomination.

In Arizona, the candidate qualifications bill would authorize the secretary of state to keep a presidential candidate off the state's ballot if the candidate or party doesn't provide required information on the candidate's eligibility.

"Clearly this bill is not an attempt to deal with the current president other than to say that anyone running for president must meet the constitutional requirements," said Rep. Carl Seel, R-Anthem.

Peter Spiro, a Temple University law professor, said there's an emerging thread in legislation on presidential candidates' qualifications "that somebody who is a dual citizen at birth is ineligible for the presidency."

However, Spiro said, "there's no evidence that an individual has to be born to U.S. citizens to be eligible for the presidency."

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