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Fact check: Kamala Harris is a natural-born U.S. citizen and eligible to serve as president

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 9/21/2020 Camille Caldera, USA TODAY
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The claim: If former Vice President Joe Biden is elected but unable to serve as president, Sen. Kamala Harris will be ineligible to succeed him because of her parents' citizenship

Kamala Harris wearing a blue screen: As talk swirls around Joe Biden's pick for a VP, the presumptive Democratic nominee was seen holding a note with Sen. Kamala Harris' name at the top. © Provided by USA TODAY As talk swirls around Joe Biden's pick for a VP, the presumptive Democratic nominee was seen holding a note with Sen. Kamala Harris' name at the top.

A post on Facebook claims Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., cannot serve as president because of her parents' citizenship.

"If (Biden) cannot serve his full term, Kamala cannot by constitutional law become President," the post reads. "She is an anchor baby, mother is from India, father is Jamaican, and neither were American citizens at time of her birth."

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"That means the Presidency would fall on Speaker of the house," the post adds, claiming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., "stated that she was next in line to become President."

"Democrats have worked the whole scenario out and I believe that is why they chose Kamala Harris," the post reads. (Though the post was written prior, Biden announced her as his pick for vice-presidential running mate on Aug. 11.)

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The post has been shared almost 2,000 times since Aug. 2. USA TODAY reached out to Drew Sciuridae, who made the post, for comment.

Harris is a natural-born U.S. citizen

Harris is a citizen of the United States and has been since birth.

She was born in Oakland, California, on Oct. 20, 1964, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. Her parents were both immigrants — her father from Jamaica and her mother from India.

By virtue of her birth in California, Harris is a natural-born U.S. citizen.


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The Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment provides that "all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

And that's not dependent on their parents' citizenship. "Anyone born on U.S. soil and subject to its jurisdiction is a natural born citizen, regardless of parental citizenship," according to the Cornell Legal Information Institute.

Parental citizenship is relevant to an individual's citizenship status only if the individual is born outside of the United States.

If a child born abroad "has at least one parent, including an adoptive parent, who is a U.S. citizen by birth or through naturalization," then they are eligible to become an American citizen, too, per U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Harris meets requirements to be president

The only requirements for presidential candidates in the Constitution are that the candidate "must be a natural born citizen of the United States, a resident for 14 years, and 35 years of age or older," according to the Library of Congress. 

The criteria have not changed since George Washington took office as the first president of the United States, and they apply only to the individual.

When Harris ran for president, similar claims about her citizenship and eligibility circulated online.

At the time, Laurence Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School, condemned the notion.

“I can’t believe people are making this idiotic comment,” Tribe told the Associated Press in 2019. “She is a natural born citizen and there is no question about her eligibility to run."

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Our rating: False

Based on our research, the claim that Sen. Kamala Harris is ineligible to become president because of her parents' citizenship is FALSE. Harris was born in California and is U.S. citizen, and her parents' citizenship status is irrelevant to her eligibility to serve as president. 

Our fact-check sources:

This fact check is available at IFCN’s 2020 US Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here, for more.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Kamala Harris is a natural-born U.S. citizen and eligible to serve as president

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