Dual Citizenship Is Dangerous

For the United States to allow naturalized citizens also to hold citizenship or nationality in a foreign country is against the law. The time has come when America needs to enforce this law.

The number of countries that recognize and even promote dual status is rising. And the fact those nations and their nationals flaunt it in our country's face affronts America's distinguished heritage.

Mexico has become the latest country to allow dual nationality. But Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Poland, France, Ecuador, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Brazil are among the countries recognizing dual nationality.

With Mexican consulates around the country already processing thousands of applications for dual nationality, literally millions of naturalized US citizens from Mexico will feel less apprehensive about taking on this conflicted status. That is, unless America enforces the law against it.

Why should the Mexican dual nationality law spur us to action? One woman applying under the new Mexican law expressed it exactly. She told The New York Times: "We were born in Mexico. This is all about going back to a reality, the reality that we are Mexicans."

If the reality is that naturalized US citizens from Mexico "are Mexicans," then the reality is also that they are breaking the oath they swore to become US citizens.

Dual nationality or citizenship in any other country fails the smell test. It stinks because when it comes to core loyalties, dual nationals and dual citizens don't place them with America, as promised.

Your country may call upon you to go to war for it, and the possibility exists that your country of origin may be aligned with the enemy, or even be the enemy. Where would the dual national be? Would that person do his duty? Would that person commit treason against his new country?

The country that winks at dual status plays a dangerous game of Russian roulette.

American law doesn't ask those who seek naturalization to hate their former country. They are required, however, to renounce allegiance to it. And those holding a title of nobility in a foreign state are required to renounce it as part of the public ceremony along with the oath of citizenship.

Deplorably, more and more naturalized American citizens today are seeking public office in foreign governments.

Nobody holds a gun to the head of anyone who seeks to naturalize as a US citizen. In fact, a backlog exists.

The US should again get serious about citizenship. To hold American citizenship is a privilege. And it carries a serious obligation.

Those who swear the oath of citizenship to the US shouldn't enter into it lightly. They each should fully understand exactly what they are pledging. If they have any mental reservation against what is required and expected of them as American citizens, they should be denied the privilege of naturalizing if they don't have the integrity to withdraw from the process.

If it still means something to be an American citizen, we need to start enforcing the law. We should revoke the citizenship of those who break their oath, and holding dual nationality or dual citizenship in another country manifestly proves their insincerity. Dual nationality or citizenship status should result in deportation. The application process should fully explore an individual's understanding and true intentions regarding US citizenship.

It is time to reclaim American citizenship. It is time to enforce the law.

* James R. Edwards Jr., a former Republican congressional aide, is coauthor of the forthcoming 'The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform' (Allyn & Bacon).

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