Former President Donald Trump was widely criticized for fueling allegations that former South Carolina Governor and fellow GOP presidential hopeful Nikki Haley is ineligible for the presidency due to her parents' citizenship status at her birth.
The accusation against Haley, who was at one point the Ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration, originated with the conspiratorial far-right account Gateway Pundit, which Trump shared on his Truth Social account.
The claim suggests she is ineligible for the presidency since her parents weren't U.S. citizens when she was born, despite her birth in South Carolina and lifelong residency in the United States. Her parents became citizens after her birth in 1972.
Legal experts like Laurence Tribe, a Harvard Law School professor emeritus, have dismissed these claims, branding them as baseless, unconstitutional, and seemingly rooted in prejudice against immigrants and people of color.
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Trump has long embraced the reactionary politics that gave rise to the Tea Party movement, a conservative populist social and political movement that called for lower taxes and for a reduction of the national debt and federal budget deficit.
The Tea Party has been credited with fracturing the Republican Party as a whole, particularly as the movement largely abandoned matters of economic policy and came to be defined by bigotry, such as the belief in "birtherism" which doubts or denies former President Barack Obama is a natural-born U.S. citizen, implying he was ineligible to be President.
Trump was swiftly called out for attempting to keep Haley off the ballot—even as he faces legal maneuverings to remove him from states' ballots over a legitimate Constitutional issue.
Trump's historical emphasis on citizenship issues is not new. He has previously argued for the revocation of "birthright citizenship" for the children of undocumented immigrants, adding to the controversy surrounding his latest claims against Haley.
The 14th Amendment unequivocally asserts that individuals born or naturalized in the United States are citizens. Legal scholars emphasize that the amendment intended to grant citizenship, particularly to formerly enslaved Black Americans after the Civil War.
Trump previously also aimed similar accusations at Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, using the tactic to discredit Cruz during the Republican primary battle in 2016, citing his borth in Canada. Legal experts at the time thoroughly rejected the claims against Cruz, asserting that individuals born abroad to U.S. citizens are generally considered U.S. citizens from birth.