Seyfarth Shaw Los Angeles Business Immigration partner Angelo A. Paparelli co-authored an article published in the April 25 issue of the New York Law Journal regarding Mitt Romney and the spar over presidential citizenship.
In the article, the authors discuss the complexities of the recent Mitt Romney Mexican heritage debate that made it into the news because of Newt Gingrich's claim that Romney was "anti-immigrant." Reports of Romney's eligibility for Mexican citizenship appeared around the same time as the aforementioned accusation surfaced. The laws on dual citizenship and multi-citizenship have been reviewed by many lately. In the last election, some had questioned President Barack Obama's constitutional eligibility for the presidency as a "natural-born citizen" due to his ostensible dual citizenship at birth and the divided loyalties this might cause. Now, Romney may be facing the same challenge.
The authors explain the principle behind U.S. citizenship laws, "Birthright citizenship (i.e., when U.S. citizenship is conferred at birth) has two guiding principles: jus soli (citizenship determined by place of birth; literally, rule "of the soil") and jus sanguinis (citizenship by descent; literally, rule "of blood," i.e., regardless of place of birth)." Under the current Mexican constitution of 1917, those born in Mexico, regardless of the nationality of their parents, are Mexican citizens by birth. But George Romney was born in 1907 and left Mexico for the United States in 1912, well before the new constitution was adopted, the authors note.