When Can a Foreign Born Person Become President of the United States

A very important thing happened in the United States Congress on December 1, 2023. United States Congressperson George Santos was expelled due to two 2023 federal indictments alleging 23 fraud-related charges, to which Santos pleaded not guilty. Subsequently, the House Ethics Committee released a report in November 2023 implicating George Santos in fraud. He was expelled from the House of Representatives on December 1, 2023, by a vote of 311–114, exceeding the necessary two-thirds majority of 290.

Now, Mr. Santos was born in the USA, but one wonders if any foreign born people in Congress can become President of the United States.

Currently there are 24 Representatives and Senators who are foreign born. It is constitutionally permissible for a person who has been a citizen for seven years to be a representative in the US congress. A Senator must have been a citizen for nine years.

The requirement for a candidate to be US President must have been born in the United States. So can a person in the presidential line of succession who was not born in the United States become president?

The presidential line of succession is: Vice President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, President pro tempore of the Senate, Secretary of State.

Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the US Constitution states, “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

Therefore, if the person next in line of presidential succession is foreign born, that person is passed over to the next person in the line of succession who is born in the United States.

So, no, a foreign born person may not become President. That said many fine people in the House of Representatives and Senate are foreign born.

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