Recently, the topic of dual citizenship became a thing in Australia: [emphasis added to quotes]
First two Australian senators resigned on learning they held citizenship of New Zealand and Canada.
Then a third stood down from his cabinet post on discovering that although he had never even been there, he was a citizen of Italy.
The past two weeks have been a minefield of frenzied activity from elected Australian politicians as they check if they hold dual nationality. It’s all been done under the suddenly menacing shadow of the 116-year-old Section 44 of the nation’s constitution, which forbids anyone holding citizenship of another country from running for parliament.
It’s an issue which says much about Australia as an immigrant nation, as federal MPs who were born overseas – 25 of them in total – have raced to check which country, or countries, count them as citizens.
Imagine having to check whether or not you hold multiple citizenships.
The Australian constitution requires that anyone who holds dual citizenship must formally, proactively renounce their foreign citizenship in order to run for elected office. Dual allegiance is not tolerated. Understandably so.
These three former Australian office holders were apparently unaware that they held foreign citizenship: Two were born in other countries and brought to Australia as children, where they were naturalized as citizens; but they failed to renounce their previous citizenship before running for office. The other was born in Australia, but his mother had, unbeknownst to him, registered him as an Italian citizen, too, because of Italian ancestry.
All three dual citizens did the honorable thing and resigned, upon learning that they were not eligible under their constitution to hold elective office.
Recently, it was reported that a man who naturalized as a U.S. citizen was mistakenly sent a congratulatory letter signed by the former president instead of by President Donald J. Trump. The welcome letter–whether a mistake or deliberate “petty retaliation” by an office worker who disliked the new administration–is not of interest to this post. Rather, it’s the man’s citizenship. His wife explained:
For the past 17 years, I’ve asked my husband to give up his British citizenship and become an American.
After all, he has lived here nearly his entire life, arriving when he was just 6 weeks old. Both his parents, now deceased, were Americans. He and two siblings were born while his father, a physician, completed medical training in London.is mother was an American by birth whose family roots in the Midwest went back many generations. His father was a naturalized citizen.
All his siblings eventually filed the paperwork to become American citizens, but he was a holdout.
Despite marrying a native-born American and having our children here, he held on to the notion that it might come in handy one day to have a U.K. passport. He had been a permanent legal resident in the U.S. his entire life, and the only thing he couldn’t do was vote or serve on a jury.
What’s interesting about this narrative is that the man was still considered a British citizen, not an American citizen, not even a dual citizen, but solely a British citizen. How is this possible?
He is married to a native-born U.S. citizen. His mother, seemingly, was a natural born U.S. citizen at the time of his birth in England. Did he not receive derivative U.S. citizenship through her?
At some point, his father naturalized as a U.S. citizen. When this was, the article does not say, but one can easily infer that it happened after his father completed medical training in London and moved with his wife and family to the USA. Did his son not receive derivative U.S. citizenship when the father naturalized?
The new citizen’s wife is a newspaper columnist, who appears to be in her late 30s, early 40s. If her husband is of an age with her, perhaps a little older, then he was probably born sometime in the late 1970s or early to mid-1980s. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 may or may not apply in his case, depending upon whether his date of birth is 2/27/1983 or later and he met other criteria for automatic derivative citizenship.
Immigration laws change over time, of course. There was a time in our history when simply marrying a U.S. citizen conferred citizenship upon the spouse (usually the wife), but that’s not the case anymore. Conversely, several times in our country’s history, female U.S. citizens who married foreign citizens could lose their U.S. citizenship.
Similarly, the laws for automatic derivative citizenship changed over time. It’s quite a complicated feat to determine whether or not a person born abroad automatically derived citizenship from one U.S. citizen parent.
My first thought upon reading about this case was to wonder why this man wasn’t already a U.S. citizen, either by derivation from his mother’s natural born citizenship status or from his father’s own naturalization (depending, of course, upon the father’s date of naturalization and the age of the man when his father naturalized). It seems likely that this man was a dual citizen all along.
This case goes to shows how seemingly minor details (birth date, marital status of parents, citizenship of parents, place of birth, whether or not the parents registered the birth if it occurred abroad, etc.) can have a great impact upon someone’s citizenship and his or her future in politics.
Interestingly enough, the case of Senator Ted Cruz very closely parallels the case of the columnist’s husband, the “new” citizen who believed he had to naturalize in order to vote.
Rafael Edward Cruz –was born in Canada in 1970 because his father was working for the oil industry there. The senator’s recently released birth certificate shows his mother was born in Delaware and his father was born in Cuba. [His father did not naturalize until 2005.] The Cruz family left Canada a few years later. Cruz grew up in Texas and graduated from high school there, later attending Princeton University and Harvard Law School.
Senator Cruz never did naturalize as a citizen of the USA, believing that it was not necessary. When Cruz “learned” about his Canadian citizenship in 2013, he said he would formally renounce it.
“The Dallas Morning News says that I may technically have dual citizenship,” Cruz, a freshman Republican from Texas, said in a statement. “Assuming that is true, then sure, I will renounce any Canadian citizenship. Nothing against Canada, but I’m an American by birth and as a U.S. senator, I believe I should be only an American.”
The News reported Monday that the circumstances of Cruz’s birth — in Canada but to an American mother — made him a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada. …
Because my mother was a U.S. citizen, born in Delaware, I was a U.S. citizen by birth,” Cruz said. “When I was a kid, my mom told me that I could choose to claim Canadian citizenship if I wanted. I got my U.S. passport in high school.” …
Most U.S. legal experts agree that Cruz qualifies as a “natural born” American because he had citizenship from the moment of birth. Under the Constitution, only a “natural born” American can become president.
If that is true, why then did the newspaper columnist’s husband have to naturalize? Why was he also not a natural born citizen from birth, with dual U.S./British citizenship?
There is a question whether or not a female U.S. citizen can confer citizenship upon children born abroad, when the father is a foreign citizen.
As late as 1961, the Supreme Court ruled that the 1802 Naturalization Act only made a child born abroad a citizen if the father was a citizen. So the idea that a mother had the same right as a father did to grant citizenship to her child is simply not true. The citizenship of Ted Cruz’s Delaware-born mother means less than the candidate wants to believe.
Anyone who has followed this blog over the past 8 years knows our interest in natural born citizenship. The Constitution of the United States requires a person to be a natural born citizen of this country in order to hold the office of the presidency.
To this day, we still do not know, without doubt, that Barack Obama was ever qualified to run for the presidency. We do not know, without doubt, his place of birth, the citizenship status of his parents, the marital status of his parents, his date of birth, and many other seemingly minor details (including the possibility that he was adopted, as his half-sister once implied).
If we take Obama’s word, we do know that he was at one point a British subject and also later a Kenyan citizen. We also know, based upon elementary school records, that he was also an Indonesian citizen. Indonesian laws of citizenship are also quite confusing, and depend upon many seemingly minor details. If he ever did have U.S. citizenship, he may have lost it when he became an Indonesian citizen.
Did Obama formally renounce any of his three foreign citizenships? Can a person be a dual citizen and at the same time be a natural born citizen of the U.S.?
Apparently, Australia’s constitution is much more straightforward on the topic of dual citizenship than is ours. There should be little doubt, however, that the composers of the Constitution, the Founders of our nation, were concerned about divided loyalties. Who more likely to have divided allegiance than those who hold dual (or even treble or quadruple) citizenship?
As in Australia, some in the U.S. are concerned about politicians with divided allegiance:
Yet dual citizenship in the United States poses a hitherto unappreciated issue for policy-level members of the legislative, executive and judicial branches. The divided national loyalties of dual citizens can create real or apparent conflicts of interest when such legislators, judges or senior officials make or speak out on policies that relate to their second country.
The potential damage to our democracy is the greater when such potential conflicts of interest are concealed in undisclosed dual citizenship. …
Without reliable data, however, Americans can only speculate on which senators and representatives [or presidential candidates] may have divided national loyalties.
The lack of transparency regarding citizenship erodes trust in government, raising credibility doubts where there should be none, and allowing some apparent conflicts of interest to continue undetected. …
Since they don’t involve national loyalty, religion and ethnicity seldom raise conflict issues. Moreover, they are generally matters of public record.
By contrast, dual citizenship creates conflict of interest through divided loyalties. Thus it would seem reasonable to require that dual citizen members of Congress, the judiciary and the executive be required to renounce citizenship in another country as a condition of public service. …
Shouldn’t members of Congress (and federal judges and executive branch officials) at least be required to disclose their citizenship in another country? …
“Reliable data.” Something that’s certainly necessary for citizens to make informed decisions about who sits in the Oval Office.
Someday, perhaps, we’ll learn the truth about Obama’s eligibility, or lack thereof. Most likely, the latter.
No person, no political party, no complicit mainstream media go to the lengths they all did to conceal Obama’s true background, unless there’s something there to hide.
Would that, like the honorable and patriotic politicians in Australia, Obama had owned up to the truth and done the right thing from the beginning.