Tuesday, October 30, 2018

On birthright citizenship and dual nationality

I guess, even though I am a dual national, I don't have to worry about the birthright citizenship problem.  Both my parents were citizens when I was born.

My dad was incredibly lucky, really.  He got into the country on a student visa.  He got into the Manhattan Project.  He got an emergency naturalization in 1943, so that he could work on that project.

That feature of his passport proved troublesome on one occasion when he returned from Mexico, because the officials at the border didn't believe that an enemy alien could have been naturalized in 1943.  Fortunately, he knew people at the FBI who could vouch for him, because of his involvement with the Manhattan Project.

He was imprisoned in Ellis Island when he first arrived. The clerk in the US consulate who did his visa made an error in the date.  Fortunately, he had relatives here, one of whom came and got him out.

My dad wasn't Jewish himself.  He was raised Lutheran.  His father considered himself a Lutheran.  His mother considered herself a Catholic.

His ancestry was Jewish.  He had at least one grandparent who was born Jewish -- and probably all his grandparents were born Jewish or at least were of Jewish ancestry.

Somehow, despite being in Germany for a long time, they were still not considered fully citizens by many people -- and their citizenship was revoked.

I got my citizenship in Germany restored in 2010.  That's why I'm a dual national.

I was born in Madison, Wisconsin.  I haven't been to Germany except for a brief visit when I was 12. I don't speak more than a few words of German -- though I can do a great German accent.

Still, presumably on the census I'll be asked to disclose that I'm a dual national.

I feel threatened.

Throughout the world, lack of birthright citizenship has led to endless human rights violations.  Gypsies traveled through Europe for hundreds, maybe thousands, of years, without ever being able to settle, because they were considered foreigners.  Palestinians in Lebanon and Syria are never considered Lebanese or Syrian.  They are marginalized.  The list goes on and on.

People apparently fear that Mexicans and Central Americans who come here won't become good US citizens.

I live in a school district which is half Hispanic.  I've met these kids who were raised in the USA and went to public schools.  Probably many of their parents or grandparents were illegal.

These are delightful people.  They are fully fluent in English, easy to talk to, hard working -- definitely the sort of people who we want around here.  They run businesses.  They are smart.  I like them.

The idea that Hispanics won't assimilate is a myth.  Maybe Puerto Ricans have been reluctant to assimilate, because they want to retain their cultural identity -- but they are US citizens, not immigrants.

My experience with Chinese people who were raised here is similar.  Probably some of their ancestors were illegal, but, if they were born here and went to public schools, they are fine.

Removing these people would definitely damage our local economy

I am strongly opposed to the proposal that birthright citizenship should be brought into question.  I am strongly opposed to the idea that we should ask people whether they are dual nationals on the census.

 WaPo article on this topic

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