Saturday, June 02, 2007

Dual Citizenship: Boon Or Bane?

This loaded question is obviously directed at the USA, which traditionally has been regarded as “a nation of immigrants”. And which continues to be so to this day. Currently, as many as 10% of the present US population are foreign-born, that translates to almost 30 million residents.

There are presently 93 countries in the world that allow some form of dual citizenship or multiple citizenship. This includes the US, and such countries as Canada, France, and Switzerland.

Of the top countries sending immigrants to the US, most of them allow dual or multiple citizenship; and very prominent of this would be the southern next-door neighbor Mexico, which also accounts for the large numbers of illegal immigrants, which numbers have been extrapolated from a low of 12 million to a high of 20 million.

So what?

Nothing, if not for a score of troubling developments that are now menacingly staring at and threatening the very identity of the nation.

Maybe never in its short but colorful history has the US been faced with very complex and divisive issues that are challenging the very fabric that has been holding together this very diverse amalgamation of people from all over the world. Thorny issues that strike at the polity’s core psychological, cultural, social, and political traits that taken together identify one as an American.

The very large issue of illegal immigration is one such issue that appears to have no short-term resolution that will placate enough of the populace. The present proposal being hotly discussed does not even merit the unanimous approval of those groups representing the illegals, yet clearly it favors this huge group; and some even speak about disguised amnesty being earmarked somewhere.

And there are other equally loud signals that to a thinking person demand some attention and analysis. We can discern them from the daily news. One comes to mind which is the pervasive anti-America feelings and attitudes espouse by those we voluntarily came searching for a better life which they had determined to be elusive in their home countries. And in a country that has been so tolerantly embracing of diversity in its many manifestations, it comes as a great surprise to learn of such negative and ungrateful attitudes.

Yet the particular issue of dual citizenship or multiple citizenship as a probable or possible exacerbating factor in the current cultural and political problems has I believe not been openly and publicly discussed. Even the political hierarchy in the US may be judged to be complicit.

Thus, there is no US provision formally recognizing dual citizenship among its own, but neither is there any prohibition of it, much less any penalties imposed for acquiring dual citizenship. An American will not lose his citizenship if he acquires additional citizenship, like from his old home country. And even if that country may be looked upon as a hostile one, or one harboring inimical positions against the US. The very tolerant attitude of the US is I believe key to this. One senses that the reason may be because collectively the US has guilt feelings not only about what it has done in the past, but also it finds itself required to be sufficiently sensitized about how the rest of the world regard it. This behemoth of a superpower, the lone one at that, instead of flexing its ample muscles appears to favor the “kid’s gloves” treatment, including on its publicly avowed enemies.

But much like the burgeoning illegal immigration problem, coupled with the myriad of global issues the US is invariably entangled, the default position appears to be that it is best that the US assumes more passive and reactive stances so as not to antagonize further the already simmering ill-will many parts of the world have already shown.

Just the same, the issues highlighted above and many more related ones need to be publicly aired and resolved if we are to assure that Americans, both native-born and new immigrants, may be able to distinctly know and define what it means to be American.

Because it appears that at present most everybody is conflicted, not really able to translate to plausible realities what the stratospheric abstract ideas about being American really mean.

One senses for example that in the current milieu citizenship appears to be some kind of undeserved and string-less gift, rather than as panoply of rights and responsibilities that each recipient should be made to know, understand, and practice. Mostly take and no give.


Update:
From an article written by a first-generation immigrant from Hungary, Mr. Peter W. Schramm.
Because America is more than just a place, being an American citizen is different than being the citizen of any other country on earth. We Americans do not look to the ties of common blood and history for connection as people the way the citizens of other countries do. Rather, our common bond is a shared principle. This is what Lincoln meant when he referred to the "electric cord" in the Declaration of Independence that links all of us together, as though we were "blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh, of the men who wrote that Declaration."

BTW, Hungary is one of the 93 countries that recognizes dual citizenship.

Read the entire article.

5 comments:

  1. In order to denounce Russian citizenship, you have to pay them $2200 and all accrued fines for the expired passport (I heard the later part was going to be lifted though). There are also other requirements, so sometimes you have to travel there to settle matters. I am sure many people just give up on it and become a sort of dual citizens by default.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is quite a revelation.

    According to my list of the 93 nations that allow dual citizenship Russia is one of them.

    So from your statements above, one has to proactively seek renunciation of Russian citizenship and pay a very substantial fee.

    What was also true in the Philippines before was that one had to pay back taxes, specifically income taxes on income earned abroad, before passports could be renewed. This had been rescinded.

    Now, dual citizens pay only on income earned in the Philippines.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm picking up some strange vibes from you regarding dual citizenship, as well as the tangential topic of illegals in the USA. I can see how for you those two subjects would interrelate, especially since you and yours got your American passports the hard way, by earning them legally. Surely, you must feel some resentment to the interlopers streaming in from the south screaming demands at us as they do. How does that make you feel? And you are in a place where its happening right in front of you and not just on the TV news.

    Here's an interesting bit: Dual citizenship for an American might not be illegal, but if an American military retiree decides to declare as a new citizen for another country and then turns in his US passport, he has just made himself ineligible to continue to receive his retirement pay. It happened to a veteran living in Australia not aware of this provision. Imagine his consternation when finding out he had just cut himself off from his pension. Sometimes I think they don't tell us these things purposely...

    I have my own feelings regarding citizenship. I posted twice on it: Serve for Citizenship and Serve for Citizenship, a Response Robert Heinlein was one smart cookie. KILL the Bugs!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Phil:

    First, due to time constraints and the numbing complexity of the issue I was trying to tackle, I thought presenting it in bite-size portions would be easier. Thus, of itself the entry does not really reveal much. This ensuing discussion could help unravel some of the intertwining factors involved.

    Also, I thought that to invite attention and comment I had to phrase my thoughts in such a way as to come out non-judgmental, or non-committal, or maybe just call it, like straddling in the middle like some high-strung impartial judge.

    But I do have very definite ideas about most of the critical factors involved, though still open enough to hear and try to understand other sides. And if one goes out there, there are many of those (experts included) that would argue for dual or multiple citizenship and the benefits it brings.

    I appreciated the couple of referenced links in your comments. And having read them, declare thus that I agree with the philosophical positions you have taken on the issue, such as service to country, fairness and equity, etc. And this would include the issue of illegal immigration. Thus, if one breaks the law one cannot then argue that because of one’s social or economic importance, or because of the gravity of the situation (12-20 million illegals), or due to some abstract ideals such as compassion for the poor, one should get special treatment. A willful lawbreaker is any lawbreaker and under the rule of law should be dealt with accordingly.

    Even in theology if one commits a grievous sin that impacts negatively on another, aside from just punishment some form of restitution is also required to completely seek complete justification or erase the sin and its consequences , or “to even the score”.

    Was surprised to read in the local ethnic (non-Hispanic) papers the loud and strong opposition to allowing legalization of these illegal immigrants under the currently discussed proposal from groups that decidedly are for minority rights and causes. But they do so from an obviously and patently self-serving and self-interested position. From the FilAm perspective, because the Family Reunification act, which has been the one vehicle allowing FilAms to petition an array of other members of the family into the US, has somehow been sacrificed at the altar of the current proposal to resolve illegal immigration. Thus, the great outcry.

    Re your proposal that service be the only path to full citizenship, it does sound commendable, but is it feasible under the current milieu we live? Given that we try as much as possible and able to give as much leverage and opportunities for people, minorities included, to participate in public service. Even educational requirements for public office have been pretty much watered down to open up the field for more people. Just learned the other night that the late Pres. Truman, who figured quite prominently in two wars, never had any college education.

    And sounds to me that if service is a requisite for full citizenship such as public office, then isn’t this another form of draft or conscription for everybody? And thus, the very free and noble virtue of willingness to serve patriotically in the armed services becomes secondary to service itself?

    Also, how widely or narrowly should we define service or defense of country? In your retirement speech, you declared that your mom also bravely “served” by taking care of the children when soldier dad was away.

    Lastly, I am reminded of Julius Caesar, from memories of ages past when we were studying Latin. Caesar, essentially a soldier and a very good tactical general at that, always harbored a loathing, or maybe just low regard, or maybe worst, contempt, of the patrician class, essentially those composing the bloated numbers in the Roman Senate; though he too was arguably a member of that caste. That loathing sprung from the fact that he was doing all the dirty work defending and expanding the growing empire and yet he was being unduly dictated by this flabby group who stayed safe and secure in their comfortable places. I suppose the point I am with difficulty trying to expose is that this tension between the rich and the other castes in society will always be there to continually grate and grind on the social consciousness of a society.

    Any solutions on how these “privileged” classes can be made to be more fair and magnanimous not only financially but more importantly in physically-active and life-threatening service to country? Short of coercion or inevitability? I still do not know.

    Any ideas?

    ReplyDelete
  5. "...nonjudgmental and noncommittal..." very avoidance oriented and very Filipino. I like that. Still, if you feel strongly about something and if you can express it without vulgarity and stridency, then let it hang out buddy...

    If you get a chance, read "Starship Troopers" or more carefully read my posts. Heinlein argues for two "levels" of citizenship. Did you catch that? I guess you did. And the years of service wouldn't necessarily have to be as a soldier. Too many Americans take their rights and freedom for granted, like spoiled children.

    Nope, no conscription involved. If you want to go straight into business and enjoy the fruits of the sweat and blood of those who serve, that would be up to you. The very rich and privileged have no clue of the sacrifices that people like your sons and me go (went) through so that the Paris Hiltons of the country can enjoy the wonders of the USA.

    Truman, Lincoln, Bonifacio, Washington, none of them had any college. I've met some marvelous leaders in the military who learned their leadership in the ranks. Ever watched Animal House or MTV Spring Break? What exactly is it about college, based on the idiots you see on those venues, that makes them more eligible to be our leaders? I'd rather vote for a 20 year sergeant who KNOWS what "service before self" means. Kapiche?

    Caesar was justified to feel contempt for his fellow privileged patricians who never put their pampered butts on the line. Honestly, I feel the same contempt. From what I can see, most Americans are about making money and maintaining their creature comforts, and many of them seem to think that anyone "stupid" enough to enlist MUST have done so because they had no other option. Rosie O'Donnell thinks that way. SHE and her kind are the people I truly loathe.

    ReplyDelete

Welcome. Your comments are appreciated.