AUSTIN, Texas - A U.S. senator who was born in Canada is taking steps to try to quash any controversy over his citizenship ahead of a possible presidential run in 2016.
Sen. Ted Cruz, who has emerged as a rising star of the Tea Party movement, released a copy of his birth certificate on Monday.
It shows Cruz was born in Calgary on Dec. 22, 1970, while listing his mother, Eleanor Elizabeth Wilson, as having been born in Delaware and his father, Rafael Bienvenido Cruz, as a native of Cuba.
Cruz, 42, gave a copy of the document to The Dallas Morning News, which posted a picture of it online Monday.
His father was an engineer and the couple had come to Alberta as part of the energy boom that saw Canada greatly increase exports of domestic oil.
The family eventually relocated and Cruz spent most of his formative years in Houston.
Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution states that "No person except a natural born Citizen" is eligible to be president. But Cruz's office has long maintained that because his mother was an American, Cruz became a U.S. citizen at birth.
President Barack Obama, who was born to an American mother and Kenyan father, faced sharp criticism from some conservatives who claimed he wasn't an American citizen. In 2011, Obama released a copy of his birth certificate confirming his birth in Hawaii.
Cruz is a favourite of many of the same conservative groups who raised "birther" concerns about Obama, however, and questions about his eligibility to become president because he was born in Canada have not caused as much of a stir — at least not yet.
It is legal to hold both U.S. and Canadian citizenship, but the Canadian embassy in Washington won't say how many people do so, citing privacy concerns.
Asked during a 2012 interview with The Associated Press whether he holds dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship, Cruz wouldn't answer directly, saying only: "I am a U.S. citizen."
"I was born in Canada, but I was a (U.S.) citizen at birth because my mother was a citizen," he said. "I have only ever had one passport and that is a U.S. passport."
Cruz was a little-known former Texas solicitor general and veteran of George W. Bush's presidential campaign when he launched a bid to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison. Spurred by a wave of grassroots support, Cruz upset mainstream GOP favourite and powerful Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in last year's Republican primary, then coasted to victory in November.
Since taking office, he has embraced the role of Senate troublemaker, angering Democrats and even some Republicans with his outspokenness. Cruz has most recently joined with other tea party darlings in the Senate and called for partially shutting down the federal government in an attempt to block funding for the White House-backed health care law.
Cruz also has fuelled speculation he could run for the White House by wowing conservative crowds during frequent trips to Iowa, which will open voting for the 2016 GOP presidential primary.