by Paul R. Hollrah –
Part III: Barack Obama’s Citizenship Status
In Parts I and II of this series we discussed the meaning and the purpose of the presidential eligibility clause in Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, we discussed the Founders’ fear of foreign influence in the executive branch of government, as well as their judicious use of the word “or” in differentiating between the terms “citizen” and “natural born Citizen.” In Part III we will discuss Barack Obama’s eligibility as the 44th president of the United States, citing specific provisions of applicable US, British, and Kenyan law.
Part 2, Section 5 of the British Nationality Act of 1948, the controlling legal authority on who is British and who is not, reads, in part, as follows: “Subject to the provisions of this section, a person born after the commencement of this Act shall be a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by descent if his father is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies at the time of the birth…”
Barack Obama, Sr., a citizen of colonial Kenya, was a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies when Barack Obama, Jr. was born on August 4, 1961. Therefore, under provisions of the British Nationality Act of 1948, it is indisputable that Barack Obama, the reputed 44th president of the United States, was born with dual US-British citizenship “by descent” from his Kenyan father and his American mother.
However, following Kenya’s independence from Great Britain on December 12, 1963, Kenya’s newly-adopted Constitution went into effect. Chapter VI, Section 87 of the 1963 Kenyan Constitution provided as follows: “(1) Every person who, having been born in Kenya, is on 11th December, 1963 a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies (Barack Obama, Sr,)… shall become a citizen of Kenya on 12th December 1963. Provided that a person shall not become a citizen of Kenya by virtue of this subsection if neither of his parents was born in Kenya. (Both of Obama’s paternal grandparents were born in Kenya. Hence, Barack Obama, Sr. became a citizen of Kenya on December 12, 1963, the first day of Kenyan independence)
Chapter VI, Section 87 of the 1963 Kenyan constitution further provides as follows:“(2) Every person who, having been born outside Kenya, is on 11th December, 1963 a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies (Barack Obama, Jr.)… shall, if his father becomes, or would but for his death have become a citizen of Kenya by virtue of subsection (1), become a citizen of Kenya on 12th December, 1963.”
In other words, on December 12, 1963, through automatic operation of Kenyan law, Barack Obama acquired dual US-Kenyan citizenship. He did not actively seek British or Kenyan citizenship; they were his by “automatic operation” of British and Kenyan law and “by descent” from his father. And since there is no known evidence that he ever took steps to renounce his American citizenship, he automatically lost his Kenyan citizenship under provisions of Chapter VI, Section 97 of the 1963 Kenyan Constitution on August 4, 1984, his twenty-third birthday.
However, to further complicate matters, the people of Kenya voted on August 4, 2010, to repeal the constitution of December 12, 1963, replacing it with a revised and rewritten constitution. Few Americans are aware that the constitution of August 4, 2010 brought Obama back into the fold by creating a category of Kenyan citizenship called “citizen by birth.”
It has been reported that, during fiscal year 2010, the Obama administration spent some $24 million in USAID funds in Kenya in support of a “yes” vote on the new Kenyan Constitution. Chapter 3, Section 14 of the 2010 constitution provides as follows: “A person is a citizen by birth if on the day of the person’s birth, whether or not the person is born in Kenya, either the mother or father of the person is a citizen (of Kenya). The constitution adopted on August 4, 2010, reinstated Barack Obama as a dual citizen of the United States and Kenya.
In other words, the attempt to damage or diminish Donald Trump by classifying him as an original “birther” is totally meaningless because Barack Obama is, in fact, a citizen of Kenya “by birth,” regardless of the place of his birth… Kenya or Hawaii.
To properly evaluate Barack Hussein Obama’s eligibility to serve as president of the United States and commander-in-chief of the Army and the Navy, and to more completely understand the motivations of the Founding Fathers, it might be instructive to compare Barack Obama’s qualifications with those of a known individual whom the American people would be certain to reject as president.
For example, if it is true, as some Obama apologists claim, that his dual US-British and US-Kenyan citizenship should not disqualify him from serving as president of the United States, then the burden of proof is upon them to also show how the radical al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, killed in Yemen on September 30, 2011 by an American drone strike, was not also eligible to serve as president of the United States.
Like Obama, al-Awlaki was a native-born U.S. citizen. He was born at Las Cruces, New Mexico, to Yemini parents on April 21, 1971. He was at least 35 years of age at the time of his death and he had resided in the United States for 17 years. In other words, Anwar Al-Awlaki, a central figure in the planning of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon; the man who recruited Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the attempted Christmas Day 2009 bomber of Northwest Airlines Flight 253; and the spiritual mentor of Fort Hood assassin, Major Nidal Hasan; had precisely the same qualifications for president as Barack Obama.
The only discernible difference between Obama and Al-Awlaki’s qualifications for the U.S. presidency is the fact that Obama’s mother was a US citizen when he was born. However, that lone distinction is not sufficient to alter the fact that both men were born with dual citizenships “by descent” from one or both of their non-U.S. citizen parents. October 7, 2016
The Obama Eligibility Question – Part IV
U.S. government policy on dual citizenship?
The official U.S. government policy regarding dual citizenship is found in publications of the Consular Affairs Division of the U.S. Department of State, as follows:
“The concept of dual nationality means that a person is a citizen of two countries at the same time. Each country has its own citizenship laws based on its own policy. Persons may have dual nationality by automatic operation of different laws rather than by choice…
“U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one citizenship or another. Also, a person who is automatically granted another citizenship does not risk losing U.S. citizenship. However, a person who acquires a foreign citizenship by applying for it may lose U.S. citizenship…
“The U.S. Government recognizes that dual nationality exists but does not encourage it… because of the problems it may cause. Claims of other countries on dual national U.S. citizens may conflict with U.S. law… However, dual nationals owe allegiance to both the United States and the foreign country. They are required to obey the laws of both countries…(emphasis added).”
As a dual US-Kenyan citizen, Barack Obama is a citizen of both the United States and Kenya. He did not apply for either dual US-British or dual US-Kenyan citizenship. They were his by “automatic operation” of British and Kenyan law. But what is most concerning is US government policy which states that “dual nationals owe allegiance to both the United States and the foreign country. They are required to obey the laws of both countries.” It is inconceivable to think that any person who holds citizenship in a foreign nation… such as Barack Obama… should also be allowed to serve as president of the United States.
Given the fact that the rules of the U.S. State Department require Obama to obey the laws of Kenya anytime he visits that country, we are faced with the rather knotty question of whether or not he could serve as president of the United States during his visit to Kenya in July 2015.
Section 3 of the 25th Amendment reads as follows: “Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.”
I would suggest that Obama’s ability to serve as president of the United States while on Kenyan soil was highly problematic and could have been resolved by invoking Section 3 of the 25th Amendment, making Joe Biden Acting President during the two days of his stay in Kenya.
Joe Biden may on occasion slip into the Oval Office when Obama is on the golf course, just to sit in the big leather chair behind the Resolute Desk. Regardless, Obama’s trip to Kenya was Biden’s big chance to go down in history as one of only two men, along with George H.W. Bush, who have served as Acting President of the United States. Unfortunately, Obama’s desire not to focus attention on the question of his own constitutional eligibility blew Biden’s big moment.
Paul R. Hollrah is a retired government relations executive and a two-time member of the U.S. Electoral College. He currently lives and writes among the hills and lakes of northeast Oklahoma’s Green Country.