Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) will renounce his Canadian citizenship because he was unaware that he is still a Canadian citizen, according to a statement released by the Washington Post on Monday evening. Cruz said he didn’t find out about his Canadian status until recently, echoing an argument made by many undocumented youths, who come to the United States as young children and frequently do not find about their immigration status until they apply for a driver’s license or other identification.
Cruz is a Canadian citizen by birthright, but also an American because of his U.S. citizen mother. His office claimed that he “never had to go through a naturalization process after birth to become a U.S. citizen.” He defended his assumption saying:
Assuming that is true, then sure, I will renounce any Canadian citizenship. Nothing against Canada, but I’m an American by birth and as a U.S. senator; I believe I should be only an American[...]
Because I was a U.S. citizen at birth, because I left Calgary when I was four and have lived my entire life since then in the U.S., and because I have never taken affirmative steps to claim Canadian citizenship, I assumed that was the end of the matter.
Whether he sees the parallel or not, Cruz’s story underscores the surprise that undocumented youths who lived their entire lives in the U.S. feel when they find out that they are citizens of other countries. Many of these undocumented youths, or so-called DREAMers, only find out about their country of origin when they apply for their first government-issued identification or apply for college.
Jose Antonio Vargas, an undocumented journalist, did not find out about his Filipino citizenship until he applied for a driver’s permit at the age of 16. It was only when he was at the D.M.V. that the clerk told him that his document was fake. Vargas said of his own citizenship discovery, “I decided then that I could never give anyone reason to doubt I was an American. I convinced myself that if I worked enough, if I achieved enough, I would be rewarded with citizenship. I felt I could earn it.”
Cruz voted against the bipartisan Senate immigration bill which would have conferred eventual citizenship to many of the individuals who identify themselves as DREAMers and can see how Cruz’s self-identity resonates with their stories.
Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) also recently inadvertently asked for sympathy for the plight of undocumented immigrants. Last week, Kasich called to build a bridge to reach out to people living in the shadows who could otherwise contribute more fully to American society.