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The issue of dual citizenship in the US

By Nancy Salvato
web posted August 4, 2008

"[In a republic, according to Montesquieu in Spirit of the Laws, IV,ch.5,] 'virtue may be defined as the love of the laws and of our country. As such love requires a constant preference of public to private interest, it is the source of all private virtue; for they are nothing more than this very preference itself... Now a government is like everything else: to preserve it we must love it... Everything, therefore, depends on establishing this love in a republic; and to inspire it ought to be the principal business of education; but the surest way of instilling it into children is for parents to set them an example.'" --Thomas Jefferson: copied into his Commonplace Book

There is an issue, rarely discussed in the news, which has critical implications for our national security and political sovereignty. The United States is one of the most permissive countries in the world with regard to dual citizenship. Our government recognizes dual citizenship and tolerates multiple citizenships. How did it come to this?

According to the U.S. Constitution - Article 1 Section 8, it is the job of the legislative branch to establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization.  

Most people are familiar with, in one form or another, the oath of citizenship which must be taken by all immigrants who wish to become United States citizens. Following a pattern set in 1795, our naturalization law, spells out the oath to which a new citizen must swear.  

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

So how can an immigrant take such a citizenship oath and still maintain citizenship in a foreign country?

Back in the days of King George, when the United States first declared independence, English common law dictated that only the sovereign could release a citizen from allegiance to a country. As a result, England "impressed" naturalized American citizens during wartime and treated these folks as British, instead of American in a court of law. Congress, having had enough of this tradition, passed the Expatriation Act of 1868. This stated that the restriction of expatriation is inconsistent with the fundamental principles of this government. The president was expected to take steps, short of war, should one of our citizens be deprived of his liberty by a foreign sovereign. Soon, the United States found itself negotiating Bancroft treaties with European states to prevent them from conscripting our naturalized US citizens when they visited their native lands. Naturalization was considered an act which severed all prior citizenship ties.

The theory of perpetual allegiance died during the late 19th century, as distance travel became easier and the industrial revolution caused migration. The consensus was that dual citizenship would cause diplomatic problems between nations. Those wanting dual citizenship were seen as opportunists who would dodge or take advantage of their citizenship obligations when it suited their private interests. Citizens lost their right citizenship if they put our nation in conflict with another nation. To prevent dual nationality, a woman who married a foreigner would lose her US citizenship. While many European states considered right of blood as providing citizenship rights, the US considered it a birth right. Those who were dual citizens had to elect citizenship with one country over another. Teddy Roosevelt said that American citizens do not lose their status when visiting another country, that foreign laws about citizenship do not usurp our own.

A change in attitude began to first occur when women were given the right to vote in this country. They mobilized to force congress to repeal the law that stripped them of their citizenship should they marry a foreigner. In l952, the Supreme Court ruled that forcing a citizen to choose between nationalities had no statutory foundation. Another court case determined that it was cruel and unusual punishment to strip citizenship away for military desertion and that it couldn't be taken away for fighting in a foreign war. The grounds for expatriation were slowly eliminated by our judicial system. In l967, in Afroyim v Rusk, it was decided by the Supreme Court that voting in a foreign election could not cause Americans to lose their citizenship. Because the 14th Amendment says that all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States, it has been interpreted as meaning citizenship could not be taken away without a person's assent. But this has gone too far. Completely disregarding our naturalization law, the state department now informally advises those who aspire to American citizenship that do not really have to give up their foreign citizenship.

While to some folks the idea of dual citizenship might seem benign, it can greatly effect a person's emotional attachment and identification with this country. Emotional attachment and identification with a country contributes greatly to a person's willingness to make sacrifices and stand in harms way to defend our home, values, and ideals. Still, dual citizenship has become acceptable because instead of promoting assimilation, diversity has become the mantra of our public institutions, undermining what traditionally binds us together; the shared values and political beliefs that make us one people...This notion and the idea that there are no consequences for those whose allegiance to this country might be compromised.

Between 1994 and 2002, over 90 percent of the immigrants to this country were dual citizens. When an immigrant to this country becomes a citizen yet continues to actively participate politically in the home country, this clearly represents a conflict of interest. Yet, the United States does not regulate whether dual citizens vote, serve, or fight for a foreign government. As a result, countries like Mexico encourage its nationals living in the United States to vote absentee in their elections. As a matter of fact, candidates for office in Mexico actually campaign in the United States as if these nationals still lived in their country. Certain Israeli political parties (Orthodox-Haredi mainly) regularly airlift their followers to Israel to vote. Dominicans actually voted at polling booths set up in New York. This list goes on. It is well known that political participation fosters and reflects an emotional bond with a country. How can an immigrant express patriotism and vote in our elections through an American frame of reference when there is no expectation of true allegiance to the home team?

There are even more compelling examples of how dual citizens exhibit conflict of interest.

When a Columbian and elected official in New Jersey, Jesus Galvis, ran for office in the Columbian senate, he stated to reporters that it was no different than a US Congressman having a district office and a Washington office. He was simply, "representing the Colombians in the United States." How about those that weren't Columbian?

Worse, "three Mexicans living in the United States are running for seats in Mexico's Congress. If they win – and chances are good for at least two of them, one in Chicago and one in Los Angeles – they will live in the United States and represent Mexicans here."

As an advisor to Mexican President Vicente Fox, American Juan Hernandez's job was to mobilize Mexican Americans to think Mexico First.

Since 9/11, it has come to the attention of western governments that there is a problem of loyalty in immigrant populations. There are some folks living in western nations that have sympathy for hostile powers. As their numbers grow larger, this becomes more and more unmanageable. We are now in the midst of a security crisis. According to the Northeast Intelligence Network, "...there are more than 50 Islamic terrorist cells and nearly one thousand individuals identified as operable threats suspected to be presently inside the United States. (Most of the 1000 or so individuals are directly associated with the cells identified)."

In 2006, because the infrastructure in Lebanon was used to transport weapons and support to the terrorist organization Hezbollah, Israel bombed the airport, the port and the bridges to Syria. Israel bombed south Lebanon, the Bekaa, and southern Beirut, where Hezbollah had been training Al-Qaeda terrorists who travel via Syria into Iraq and Afghanistan. Terrorists trained in Lebanon were developing roadside bombs used on our marines and soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. These terrorists have cells in America and stand ready to unleash suicide bombing here in America.

During Hezbollah's war against Israel, US tax dollars were used to transport 15,000 Shi'ite Muslim Lebanese U.S. citizens back to the US. This occurred despite the fact that many of these dual citizens are terrorist sympathizers, a large percentage living in Dearborn, Michigan. Many have been indicted and/or convicted of laundering money to Hezbollah, a group that on numerous occasions announced their intention to attack Americans on U.S. soil. Hezbollah has murdered over 300 U.S. Marines and civilians, some through torture.

General Naturalization Requirements state that any applicant for naturalization must demonstrate good moral character, a belief in the principles of the United States Constitution, and favor the good order and happiness of the United States. Furthermore, citizenship shall not be granted to anyone who opposes organized government, is a member of the Communist Party or advocates the doctrines of world communism, advocates the overthrow by force of the US government, or advocates for totalitarian rule.

Conflict of interest is undermining this country's sovereignty. Immigrants to the United States are actively maintaining ties to their home country and their home countries are encouraging this. Furthermore, there are people living in the United States who do not feel loyalty to our country, who put foreign ideals above our own, and who are willing to put our people in harms way to further their personal beliefs. According to the Constitution, it is the legislative branch that is in charge of naturalization laws. It is up to the people to vote in legislators who will fix this mess! ESR

Nancy Salvato is the President and Director of Education and the Constitutional Literacy Program for Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan 501 (C) (3) research and educational project whose mission is to re-introduce the American public to the basic elements of our constitutional heritage while providing non-partisan, fact-based information on relevant socio-political issues important to our country, specifically the threats of aggressive Islamofascism and the American Fifth Column. She as a Senior Editor for The New Media Journal. She is also a staff writer, for the New Media Alliance, Inc., a non-profit (501c3) coalition of writers and grass-roots media outlets, and a frequent contributing writer to The World & I educational magazine.




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