Trivia: Which Politicians Are More Immigrant-Connected?

By David North on December 3, 2020

In the light of Donald Trump's speculation, during the presidential campaign, that Kamala Harris may not be qualified to serve as vice president on the grounds that both of her parents were immigrants, let's look at some recent major party candidates for president and vice president and measure their immigrant connectedness.

The people we have in mind are our immediate past-president and vice president, the current president and vice president, and Harris. My suggested scoring is simple: One gets a point for each immigrant parent or spouse. So, for example, Barack Obama scores a single point for his late father.

Here's how they line up:

Three points: Donald Trump for his mother (Scotland) and for two of his three wives (Czech Republic and Slovenia).

Two points: Kamala Harris for her mother (India) and her father (Jamaica).

One point: Barack Obama for his father (Kenya).

No points: Joe Biden and Mike Pence.

The last four on the list married only native-born citizens.

In historical terms, the old British Empire gets four points, while the Austro-Hungarian Empire nets two.

Dealing with Trump's mother, she was born on an island to the west of the Scottish mainland, which, unusually, has two names (I have been there). She was born in the northern portion of the island; had she been born a few miles to the south, Ms. Trump would have come from the Harris part of Lewis and Harris; the austere island is the home of Harris Tweed.

Of the five listed, only one of them, I believe, could become a dual citizen without moving to another country; that is Mike Pence, one of whose grandfathers was born in Ireland. To become an Irish citizen, Pence would have to apply and, among other things, come up with grandpa's original civil birth certificate, which might be a bit of a challenge.

As to the qualifications for president and (by implication) the vice president, Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution stipulates:

No person except a natural born Citizen or a Citizen of the United States at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years and been fourteen Years a resident within the United States.

I had thought — all my life — that naturalized citizens could not qualify for the presidency, but I was wrong. Such a person could qualify were he a "resident within the United States" in 1787. Such a person would have to have been born before that year, and we ran out of qualifying people some years ago.

Topics: Politics