Zakaria: Let naturalized Americans become president
March 19th, 2012
03:38 PM ET

Zakaria: Let naturalized Americans become president

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN

Hundreds of you have submitted very thoughtful questions for me through FacebookTwitter and my blog. Here is my response to the question: Should people born outside the United States - but now U.S. citizens - be allowed to become president?

I think they should for one very simple reason: I was born outside the United States. I’m only half kidding, but this is the only place where there is a distinction made between naturalized Americans and native-born Americans.

There are scholars who believe that this distinction was made because Thomas Jefferson did not want Alexander Hamilton to become president. Hamilton was born in Nevis.

It does seem an odd distinction to make because nowhere else in America and in no other aspect of American life is there a distinction made between native-born and naturalized Americans.

Naturalized citizens are citizens just like anybody else. They can do everything else Americans can do. They can run for every other office. So why this one exception?

I should hasten to add: It’s not that I want to be president. It's just that I’d rather be in a system where I’m not constitutionally excluded from the top job.

I don't really understand the principle of the matter. Are native-born Americans better than naturalized Americans?

It strikes me that naturalized Americans Sergey Brin, Madeleine Albright, Jennifer Granholm or Gene Simmons are perfectly as American as anyone else.

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