When I was younger, I proudly declared I wanted to be the president of the United States someday. This lofty dream of mine was crushed when I learned that only natural born citizens are able to become president. In efforts to spread awareness of this injustice, I discussed the matter with neighbors, classmates, and teachers. I remember being enraged when my 4th grade teacher (who had an adopted son from Korea) told me she thought it was perfectly fine that I couldn’t be president. I eventually decided I wouldn’t want to be the president even if I could be, but I still felt as passionate about changing the Constitution as before. The piece I’m sharing today is important to me because it won a county-wide editorial contest when I was in Middle School and is my very first piece of political writing regarding adoption.
Open Oval Office Door to all Americans
According to USA Today, over 450,000 immigrants are naturalized each year. This includes adults and families seeking a new life and children adopted internationally. In this great nation, these people can pursue their dreams and ambitions. No matter how gifted they might be, no matter how much they love this country, no matter what qualities of leadership they possess, there is one door that remains closed to them. That is the door to the Oval Office. It is time to amend the Constitution to eliminate this barrier which is based on an outdated rationale and illogical fears.
Article II, Section I, Clause 5, reads, “No person except a natural-born citizen, or citizen at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President.” When the constitution was written, the Founding Fathers were trying to protect their newly formed government from influences of foreign monarchies. Today, the United States is an established nation whose citizens have come from all over the world. Except for the Native Peoples, every citizen has a history of immigration in his or her family. To run for the presidency, it should not matter whether a person has immigrated to the United States, as long as the requirements of citizenship have been met.
Secondly, the fears that a constitutional amendment would allow an immigrant to become president who would be disloyal and put the country in danger are unfounded. The political process itself provides for examination of a candidate’s current beliefs and past history. Additionally, once a person is elected president, there is a system of checks and balances, so the power is spread among the judicial, legislative, and executive branches of government. As a last resort, a president can be impeached if serious violations occur.
Finally, this prohibition creates two tiers of American citizenship, saying some are more “American” than others. The United States government doesn’t discriminate in other occupations. Naturalized citizens can be in powerful positions in the United States military, Congress, cabinet, and state government. Elaine Chao, Jennifer Granholm, and Arnold Schwarzenegger are all leaders who are naturalized citizens and will never have the opportunity to be president as long as the Constitution remains as it is.
I believe that it is wrong to discriminate against naturalized citizens, and the president should be elected because of her leadership, passion, and determination instead of her country of origin. Right now, there is a girl who volunteers in her community, participates in fundraising projects for charitable causes, loves learning, helps others, and gives back to the world in which she lives. Unless the Constitution is amended, she will never have the chance to achieve the highest office in the nation, simply because she was adopted internationally. That girl is me. Amend the Constitution now.