The Founders were serious about American identity and the integrity of republican principles. It was an incredible blessing to us that George and Martha Washington had no children of their marriage. Washington had referred to this fact in the first draft of his Inaugural Address. There would be no danger of monarchy here, he said, because he had “no child for whom I could wish to make provision — no family to build in greatness upon my country’s ruin.”

Now, consider Marco Rubio. His parents were resident aliens when he was born in 1971, seeking and soon to receive their status as naturalized U.S. citizens. Under the Fourteenth Amendment, “all persons born…in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the states wherein they reside.” This “subject to the jurisdiction thereof” clause shows why Rubio is — and, very likely, why children of illegal aliens are not — a “natural born citizen of the United States.”

We should be very careful in discussions of the Constitution to avoid the impression that we are an anti-immigrant party. To say that Rubio, Jindal, and Haley are forever barred because of a strained interpretation of the Constitution’s eligibility clause would condemn conservatism to minority status for the foreseeable future. Surely, that is not what we want.

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