Memo to the President: I am not illegal… and by the way, I should be able to run for President


As you consider how to revamp our immigration and naturalization laws, I want you to consider my case.  Okay, I will come clean – I was born in Germany – but then I have always been rather open about that.  I was always proud of the fact that my father was in the US Army serving in Germany in 1947 when my mother came over from America with my brother and sister to join him.  I showed up nine months later and three months after that we all took a troop ship home.  (Barely enough time to develop a taste for beer.)

My parents always told me that I was an American citizen by birth according to our Consitution.  And sure enough, that is what it says, although I am not a natural born citizen.  (Am I an unnatural born citizen?  More about that later.)  Comfortable with this knowledge, I grew up, worked for the US Government for five years, payed into Social Security and Medicare since I was eighteen and held a passport for most of my life.  Although I knew I could not be President under an outmoded clause in the Constitution, I pretty much lived my life without thinking too much more about it.  Until the Social Security Administration took the position that I was illegal.

It started with the fact that I turn 65 on Sunday and need to register for Medicare to avoid an increase in rates for post-65 registration.  At the end of the online process, the computer screen informed me that my application was not accepted, pending proof of citizenship to the local Social Security Administration.

After a two hour wait (most people had bigger problems than I did), the official told me that they need to update my citizenship status because (to my surprise) I was listed as a foreign citizen.  I asked how is it possible that I have been paying into the system for over forty years and no one ever told me I was not considered a US citizen by the SSA.

She asked for two proofs of citizenship and all I have is my passport and a German birth certificate.  She wanted naturalization papers or an embassy or consulate report.  I gave her all I had: my passport (which I obtained first forty years ago based on the birth records of my parents) and a copy of the original German birth certificate.  She said she would pass this on for review but they prefer two proofs of citizenship and no copies are allowed.  My case is under appeal and I am writing to see if there is anything you can do to protect me from a miscarriage of justice.  After all, the SSA knows my parents; they were both SSA contributors and beneficiaries (until my Dad passed away).  The SSA must have their citizenships on record and the German certificate (and decades of tax returns) should confirm that I was their child.  And what about the $1,119,988 that I and my employers have paid into Medicare over the years according to SSA own records?  Doesn’t that count for something?

While you are thinking about this case, perhaps you could also add to your to do list fixing that Constitutional anomaly I mentioned earlier.   Does it really make sense to bar citizens born abroad from qualifying to run as President of the United States.  Maybe it will take a Constitutional amendment, but you can call it the McCain-Schwarzenegger-Gadbaw Amendment to the Constitution.  Do we really want two classes of American citizens in this country: those that can run for President and those that can’t?  After all, Europe and a lot of other countries allow all citizens to run for their highest office.  Aren’t you going to argue to Myanmar to get rid of those crazy Constitutional requirements that might disqualify Aung San Suu Kyi to run for President because a member of her family has a foreign passport?  What will you say when they ask if Henry Kissinger or Madeleine Allbright can run for President of the United States?

Finally, think of the message it will send to the world when America says we no longer discriminate among citizens based on the accident of their births.  Whether it is our soldiers fighting to protect the country or our Ambassadors representing it, their offspring born abroad have just as much a chance to grow up and be President as you did.  Let’s put the birther movement to rest once and for all by showing that all Americans want all US citizens to be treated equally.