What is a ‘birther’ theory? Meaning of the term as Donald Trump questions whether Kamala Harris qualifies to be Joe Biden’s VP

Trump has made several comments about Kamala Harris after it was announced that she had been selected as Joe Biden’s running made

Trump has stirred up another 'birther' theory similar to the one faced by Barack Obama (Photo: Shutterstock)
Trump has stirred up another 'birther' theory similar to the one faced by Barack Obama (Photo: Shutterstock)

In a historic moment in US politics, Kamala Harris has been named as Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate.

This would see Harris serve as vice president should Biden win the election, making her the first black, first Asian-American and first female VP.

But now President Donald Trump has stirred up a ‘birther’ theory - much like the one Barack Obama faced during his presidency - which calls into question her eligibility to serve as vice president.

This is everything you need to know.

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What is a ‘birther’ theory?

There are three baseline requirements for a person to be eligible to serve as the vice president of the US.

These are:

- To be a natural born citizen of the US

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- To be at least 35 years old

- To be a resident of the US for at least 14 years

The birther theory calls into question a person's eligibility to service as president or vice president of the United States based on where they were born.

It first became widely talked about during Barack Obama’s presidency.

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In 2011, Trump first began enabling right wing theories that Obama had been born in Kenya, and was therefore ineligible to serve as president.

Even when Obama, who was born in Hawaii, produced a birth certificate, Trump claimed that it was a “fraud”.

Trump tweeted that he had an “extremely credible source” who told him that Obama’s birth certificate was fake.

However, what birther conspiracy theorists fail to take into account is that if a person has a parent who was a “natural born citizen” of the United States, then that person is also considered to be a natural born citizen by the US government.

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So, hypothetically, if Obama had been born outside of the US, he would still have been eligible to serve as president due to the fact that his mother was born in Kansas.

What did Trump say about Kamala Harris?

Now, Kamala Harris has been named as Joe Biden's running mate, she would serve as vice president if Biden were to win the election in November.

Amidst calling Harris “phony” and “nasty”, President Donald Trump has said that he has “heard” that Harris “doesn’t qualify” to serve as vice president.

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Harris was born in the US in Oakland, California, on 20 October 1964, however, some have taken issue with her parents’ immigration status.

Her mother and father both immigrated to the United states from India and Jamaica respectively, to pursue doctorate degrees at the University of California.

After a conservative law professor questioned Harris’ eligibility to serve as VP based on her parents’ immigration status at the time of her birth, Trump was asked about it at a press conference on Thursday.

He said: “I just heard it today that she doesn’t meet the requirements and by the way the lawyer that wrote that piece is a very highly qualified, very talented lawyer.

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“I have no idea if that’s right. I would have assumed the Democrats would have checked that out before she gets chosen to run for vice president.

“But that’s very serious, you’re saying that, they’re saying that she doesn’t qualify because she wasn’t born in this country.”

The reporter who asked the question clarified that there was no question that Harris was born in the US, simply that her parents might not have been permanent US residents at the time she was born.

In terms of whether Harris is eligible to serve as vice president, Juliet Sorensen, a law professor at Northwestern University, told the Associated Press (AP) news agency: “Kamala Harris, she has to be a natural-born citizen, at least 35 years old, and a resident in the United States for at least 14 years. She is. That's really the end of the inquiry."