The Problem of Dual Citizenship

Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times, December 26, 2014

Before becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen, immigrants must take an oath that says, in part, “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 language seems to firmly establish a principle of “one person, one country.” But even though it sounds unequivocal, it is not. In fact, it is entirely possible for naturalized U.S. citizens to retain citizenship in another country, or for a native-born American to claim citizenship in a second country. On the face of it, this is an odd arrangement that challenges the notion that citizenship is an expression of national loyalty. How can a person be equally loyal to two countries?

Yet dual citizenship has been specifically sanctioned by the United States Supreme Court. In 1967, the court ruled that the State Department had violated the Constitution when it refused to issue a new U.S. passport to a U.S. citizen who had voted in an election in Israel. The decision overturned a law saying that “a person, who is a national of the United States, whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by voting in a political election in a foreign state.”

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But the concept of dual citizenship is problematic both symbolically and practically, and could become divisive if more immigrants decide to avail themselves of the privileges of U.S. citizens–as we believe they ought to do. U.S citizens with strong ties to their ancestral countries have been accused of divided loyalties in the past even when they didn’t possess citizenship in those countries–witness the internment of 110,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans during World War II. But when a U.S. citizen is also a citizen of another country, the accusation is even easier to make.

In previous editorials, we have argued that U.S. citizenship ought to be the norm for people who have decided to live and work permanently in this country. And there’s a case to be made that immigrants are more likely to seek U.S. citizenship if they are able to retain their previous nationality. Why wouldn’t it? They wouldn’t have to give anything up. Indeed, when it became possible to have dual Mexican and U.S. nationality in 1998, there was a surge in the number of Mexican immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship.

But it’s also true that dual citizenship undermines the common bond that unites U.S. citizens regardless of their ethnicity, religion or place of birth. Dual citizenship places a sort of asterisk next to the names of some U.S. citizens but not others.

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The complexities and complications raised by dual citizenship are not enough to justify amending the Constitution to overrule the Supreme Court. But we agree with the State Department that U.S. citizens should think twice about professing allegiance to another country. Moreover, by reinforcing the doubts that some hold about the loyalty of immigrants–some U.S. citizens, for instance, fume when Mexican Americans display the Mexican flag at Cinco de Mayo rallies–the persistence of dual citizenship may make it politically more difficult to secure a path to citizenship for immigrants who came here illegally.

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  • Easy solution: Don’t give citizenship to non-white immigrants and Israelis.

    • Raydonn

      QD for president, 2016

      • Fr. John+

        Raydonn, I couldn’t say it any better… or clearer.
        Deo Volente!

  • Easyrhino

    “How can a person be equally loyal to two countries?”

    They can’t, as demonstrated by Jewish Neocons who hijacked US foreign policy under Bush so the USA could waste trillions of US tax-dollars and thousands of US lives to fight wars that are not in our interests but that benefit our dear and loyal “ally”.

    • Bryce Armstrong

      Why didn’t these “Jew Neocons” hijack US foreign policy so that we could use nuclear weapons for once and wipe out BOTH are enemies without loosing a single US life?

      • bilderbuster

        Who are “BOTH are enemies”?

        • Bryce Armstrong

          The Religion of Piece.

    • archer

      As the saying goes, ” you can’t serve two masters”.

  • MekongDelta69

    I never trust the Los Angeles Times as far as I can throw them. Just read the rest of their garbage.

  • Sick of it

    “In 1967”

    That pretty well sums it up. Contrary to what liberals declare, random laws and positions concocted by liberal judges and representatives since the 1960s are not more important than the Constitution.

  • TomIron361

    When the sh*t hits the fan in this country, these moronic “dual citizen” types will try that BS, we’re not Americans and this isn’t our affair stuff, but they will find they’re up the creek without a paddle. There will be no fence sitting allowed. They will find themselves with no friends at all, only enemies because it will be [if you not for us, your against us type situation].

  • DaveMed

    What the elites, professional victims, etc. (seemingly) fail to understand is that the issue of dual loyalties is far more profound than something as superficial as legal citizenship.

    Foreigners will naturally maintain emotional ties with their home countries, and never attain the same attachment to their new country as that held by natives.

    It’s funny that the LA Times denounces dual citizenship, because I doubt that they will ever denounce the idea of members of the coalition of the colored maintaining their racial identities. Which leads to exactly the same results.

  • LHathaway

    “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”.

    What the language demonstrates is an exercise in being obtuse. Anyone with any intelligence would therefore choose to ignore it. A man should stand on principles. This directive should be ignored if not outright countermanded.

  • MannyR

    Oh no dual citizenship, not for those Mexicans but A ok for those Tribesman! And we at Amren will delete your posts if you bring it up

    • mael

      Amen, brother. They sure do protect those that cannot be named. Forget a frank talk about race. How about a frank discussion about jews.

  • IstvanIN

    How does the Supreme Court get to decide that dual citizenship is OK? How do they “read” these things in the constitution?

    Dual citizenship is bad for a simple reason: no man can serve two masters.

  • Bo_Sears

    “…witness the internment of 110,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans during World War II.”
    The fact is that there were nationals of three countries caught up in these matter in two systems. First were the German, Italian, and Japanese citizens of their home countries and without US citizenship who declined to leave a narrow strip of the Pacific Coast. They were placed in relocation camps but always had the freedom to depart for more eastern cities and counties in which to reside. These were not concentration camps. More Japanese permanent residents than German or Italian permanent residents declined to cooperate with the war effort and move away from the coast for the duration of WW II. Italians in particular lost millions of dollars in fishing equipment they were forced to leave on the beaches as they headed east.
    This refusal to cooperate required the US military to divert enough military resources to hinder defense operations in the Philippines, causing many more fatalities in that country than we readily recognize.
    Second were those Germans, Italians, Japanese, and numerous Latin Americans who were arrested by the US government as enemy aliens and imprisoned after a full hearing for an indefinite period of time well after WW II ended. Far more German Americans and Italian American citizens were interned than Japanese and Japanese Americans.
    The historical misreading that covers up identical treatment of Germans and Japanese under the two systems is a hoax that badly needs exposure. Apparently the energy to suppress the numbers involved and focus solely on the Japanese was powered by the political campaign fueled in part by the anti-atomic bomb narrative and the desire of the Communist Party to seek to have the USA turn its nuclear supplies over to an international agency.
    In addition, Japanese Americans themselves formed committees in each state to seek to take V-J day off state commemoration calendars and succeeded in every state but one north-east state. Their argument was that evil white Americans would seek to harm the Japanese Americans unless the commemorations were suppressed. And in fact it is doubtful that any reader (familiar with V-E commemorations) has ever seen a V-J event. When the film “Pearl Harbor” was presented in the West Coast theaters, there were frequent and hysterical calls for its suppression because it would anger white Americans into rages and riots against Asians. There were no such incidents, and the Japanese American groups that promoted that hate hoax have never apologized.
    The same kind of hoax is perpetuated in connection with the March On Skokie. Just a few days ago the San Francisco Chronicle referred to the march in the Seventies as one lead by National Socialists, which is strange because the leader was born a Cohen whose dad hobnobbed with the Jack Benny and hoofer culture in New York City. There are a lot of historical hoaxes, not all of which can be addressed just because there are so many scattered through our literature, entertainment, media, and academy.

  • TheCogitator

    This is why there is the requirement (or at least it was until the Obama exception) that the President of the US be a “natural born” citizen. This was a person whose parents were both US citizens at the time of his birth. Obama never met this standard. On the outside chance that Obama was actually born in the US, he is not a “natural born” citizen.

  • John

    “…dual citizenship has been specifically sanctioned by the United States
    Supreme Court. In 1967, the court ruled that the State Department had
    violated the Constitution when it refused to issue a new U.S. passport
    to a U.S. citizen who had voted in an election in Israel.” This shouldn’t surprise anyone that reads between the lines and connects the dots. And gee, what a coincidence. The majority of our espionage problems involve Israel and dual citizens. This provision should be struck from the books. Historian Thomas Woods referred to Theodore Roosevelt as the “first Imperial president” but at least T.R. got one thing right when he said there should be no such thing as “hyphenated” Americans.

  • Raydonn

    Gosh, how many of these ‘dual citizens’ are there in ‘our’ government and media?

  • Usually Much Calmer

    And heroes. But a raw deal for those in between, yes.

  • Jeff Traube

    Those who are aliens can apply for residence without being Citizens – which means they don’t vote, serve on juries or hold office. Probably should exclude them from the media as well.

  • ANAXEMANN

    I don’t care if they have citizenship, but they will not be allowed to hold office of any kind in government.