The United States should end its folly of tolerating dual citizenship for persons who vote, serve in office, or otherwise demonstrate allegiance to a foreign government.
As the New Testament sermonizes, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other.” The United States Constitution thus prohibits any federal officeholder, without the consent of Congress, from accepting “any present, emolument, office, or title of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.
Most would be stunned to learn, however, that under U.S. law (8 U.S. Code, section 1481), a person may retain citizenship despite enrolling in the armed forces of a foreign nation at war with the United States, serving as president of a foreign state, or even committing treason. Raffi Hovannisian on becoming Armenia’s foreign minister, declared, “I certainly do not renounce my American citizenship.” Muhamed Sacirbey, foreign minister of Bosnia in 1995-1996, did not lose his U.S. citizenship. The chief of the Estonian army from 1991-1995, Aleksander Einseln, likewise enjoyed dual citizenship. As Thomas M. Franck has chronicled, several Americans have represented their other country of citizenship as ambassadors to the United Nations.
Last month, the Mexican Chamber of Deputies passed legislation endowing 10 million Mexican and Mexican-Americans with the opportunity to cast absentee ballots from the United States in the 2006 Mexican presidential elections. The Central Mexican state of Zacatecas embraces Mexican migrants as candidates for electoral office. Andres Bermudez, a wealthy California grower christened the “Tomato King,” captured a mayoralty. Two other immigrants garnered seats in the state legislature. Mexican candidates routinely motorcade in the U.S. seeking political support from Mexican-Americans.
Dual citizens who demonstrate political attachments to a foreign government, in contrast, will be less resolute in celebrating and advancing the interests of the United States. They will be less inclined to sacrifice to make the nation like a sparkling “city that is set on an hill,” in the manner that Augustus Caesar “found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble.” Furthermore, if dual citizenship is indulged with official nonchalance, the lofty ideals associated with American citizenship will be dimmed.