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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

The Move to Allow a Foreign-Born President

March 01, 2004

Regarding the constitutional ban on a foreign-born president: The essential problem that is being overlooked in this debate is the fundamental difference between a "natural-born citizen" and a "naturalized citizen." The right of citizenship can be revoked if that naturalized citizen lied during the process of becoming a citizen (e.g., Nazi prison guards). Whereas natural-born citizenship is irrevocable.

What would happen should we amend the Constitution and a naturalized citizen became president (even assuming he or she lived a blameless life for 20 years) and then, for some unknown reason, it came to light that he or she lied or made material mistakes in his or her citizenship application? Then we could possibly have a noncitizen president. Talk about turmoil! I feel our forefathers had it right the first time -- there is no need for second thoughts, no matter how alluring the concept is.

Errol Stambler

Attorney, Los Angeles

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Three cheers to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) for his visionary proposal for a constitutional amendment to allow a foreign-born American to run for president (Feb. 23). Foreign-born Americans, in many cases, are more patriotic, civic-minded and appreciative of this country than their American-born fellow citizens. As a naturalized American citizen since 1969, I am a living example. Out of some 40 years in the U.S. (all in L.A.), other than my teaching career I have been a volunteer serving many different levels of governments -- from presidential commissions to the local college board, plus performing service in many community organizations. Hatch's recognition of foreign-born Americans is commendable.

Julia L. Wu

Los Angeles

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Our governor's plan to allow a naturalized citizen to become president would allow us to consider a remarkable candidate. No, not Arnold ... former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright!

Jerry Earle

Los Angeles

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