Is There a Member of Congress Who Was Born in Ukraine?

By David North on February 23, 2022

Given the extreme tensions in Eastern Europe, I wondered the other day if there is a member of Congress who was born in Ukraine. If so, I had not heard of them.

It turns out there is now one such person, but had I asked the question a year and a half ago, the answer would be none.

We’ll get back to that individual shortly, but she is one of a larger group of 33 members of the current House and Senate who were born overseas. There are five such in the Senate, and 28 in the lower house.

I had assumed that being foreign-born meant, in this context, that one had been an immigrant and needed to go through the naturalization process. This was not the case for 16 of the 33: They are children of U.S. citizens who happened to be in another nation at the time of their birth. Three others became citizens by derivation (as a byproduct of their parents’ naturalization) and 14 more (13 in the House and one in the Senate) went through the naturalization process. This is the breakout of the foreign-born Senate and House members in February 2022:

Members of Congress
Who Were Born Abroad

Chamber Naturalization Derivation Born to Citizen
Parents Overseas
Senate 1 0 4
House 13 3 12
Total 14 3 16

Source: Wikipedia.

Of the 33, 25 are Democrats and eight are Republicans. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), though of Cuban descent, was born in Canada to a U.S. citizen parent. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), is the only naturalized senator. The other three Democratic senators were born overseas to citizens: Michael Bennet of Colorado, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.

The late Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) birthplace was noticed in his 2008 campaign for the presidency. He was born to Navy parents in Panama; was he eligible for the presidency? Yes, because he was born overseas to U.S. citizen parents.

Perhaps the most interesting birthplace among House members belongs to Don Beyer (D-Va). Wikipedia source says “Trieste”, which is a city currently in Italy. At various points in the last 110 years it has also been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, claimed by the now-defunct Yugoslavia, and for seven years was the Free Territory of Trieste. Beyer was born there during that period, while his father was in the U.S. Army.

As to Ukraine, one of the newest members of the House, first elected in 2020, is Victoria Kulheyko Spartz, a Republican from a district just north of Indianapolis. She is the only member of the House, ever, to have been born in Ukraine; similarly, she is the only member of the House, ever, to be born in the Soviet Union. She was a founding member of the Hamilton County, Ind., Tea Party and has degrees from both Ukrainian and U.S. universities.

She may play a role in America’s immigration policy in the future as she is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and its immigration subcommittee. She married her U.S. citizen husband, Jason Spartz, in 2000 and subsequently came to the U.S. (presumably) as an immediate relative of a citizen. She naturalized in 2006. The couple has two children.

Prior to her election to the House she served, briefly, as a member of the Indiana State Senate, elected by a GOP committee to fill a vacancy there.

Topics: Politics