Dual nationality insults faithful citizens

In a presidential election year like this, you expect to see candidates tripping over themselves pursuing voters. But now, thanks to Mexico's recent experiment with dual nationality, Mexican presidential candidates are stumping in the United States for the votes of Mexican-Americans.

National Action Party candidate Vicente Fox and his opponent, the Democratic Revolution Party's Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, made campaign swings in California in May for the July 2 Mexican presidential election. Mr. Fox even delivered a campaign speech before the California state Senate. We may soon see the spectacle of as many as 10 million Mexican-Americans who live in the US voting for candidates for posts in the Mexican government. Future Mexican presidential elections may bring Mexican candidates holding campaign rallies, running ads, and debating - campaigning all-out - in this country.

This new phenomenon of absentee voting is made possible by Mexico's creation and promotion of dual nationality status for its expatriates. While other countries offer dual citizenship to expatriots, Mexico represents a plurality of the foreign born residing in the US from any single country. Nationality is a lesser status than citizenship, but nationals of a country still owe that nation allegiance. But Mexico's extension of voting to expatriates goes far beyond participation by a diplomat or soldier stationed overseas, a student or business executive temporarily residing abroad.

Rather, Mexico is granting voting rights to legal permanent residents of the US. Among the 10 million potential expatriate voters are naturalized US citizens and the offspring of Mexican immigrants who gained US citizenship by birth. While retaining US citizenship, these people may acquire Mexican nationality. What's next? Naturalized US citizens voting one day in an American election and another day in a Mexican election?

Mexico's experiment in the enfranchisement of dual nationals undermines the very nature of citizenship. Both dual nationality and dual citizenship threaten the integrity of nations. And dual status puts individuals in precarious situations. It uproots the civic commitment necessary to preserve a nation and runs counter to fundamental American civic ideals. The existence of a nation rests on the mutual commitment of all citizens to the common good. Citizens rely upon their nation's government to safeguard the interests of the whole. In turn, the nation counts on its citizens to promote the national interest - serving in the military, obeying the law, holding public office, voting, and being faithful.

If America continues to allow dual status, the nation-state cannot last. We either have nations or we end up with a global governing body. And no globalist bureaucrat will ever have the incentive to protect the rights and liberties of an individual across the world as does the local mayor or a state legislator, who lives in the same community and shares the same civic needs.

Holders of dual nationality cheat the faithful citizens of what they ought to be able to expect from their fellow citizens: mutual fidelity. Those who hold dual nationality or dual citizenship owe allegiance to more than one nation. What do they do when the two countries differ on foreign policy or go to war?

Dual status and its promoters insult every faithful American citizen, native-born and naturalized alike. One naturalized US citizen who regained Mexican nationality asked, "Why shouldn't we be able to vote for the president of Mexico?" Because you now are an American. You now make your life here and swore "true faith and allegiance" and renounced "absolutely and entirely" your former allegiance to Mexico. Because we fellow Americans took you at your word in good faith.

House Speaker Tip O'Neill once said, "All politics is local." How those who love liberty should wish that were true.

*James R. Edwards Jr., co-author of 'The Congressional Politics of Immigration Reform,' is an adjunct fellow of the Hudson Institute.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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