Should all Americans have the right to vote in Mexico?
In Iran and Iraq?
How about Venezuela, Cuba, Canada, and China?
The issue of dual citizenship in America, surfacing in the kerfuffle over Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s rejection of his Canadian citizenship (his mother was from Delaware, his father from Cuba, and Cruz was born in Calgary), raises a long ignored question.
Should American citizens be permitted to hold dual citizenship? One American -- and the other in the country of their birth or ethnic origin? Or for that matter, any second country regardless of the reason?
Mexico allows its citizens to retain Mexican citizenship even if they become naturalized American citizens. Mexico isn’t alone either. It is among some 60-plus countries -- like the Canada of Cruz’s birth -- that do the same.
Isn’t it time to abolish the antiquated notion of dual citizenship? A reality that by definition requires a dual loyalty -- to America and another Country X?
And if not, then shouldn’t Americans -- citizens of the only country in the world built not on an ethnic identity but an idea -- have the right to vote in every other country on the globe?
After all, well aside from the fact that America gives billions in foreign and military aid to all manner of countries around the globe, the fact is that America’s entire population -- all of it -- is made up of immigrants or the descendants of immigrants from every country in the world.
The President of the United States is famously the son of a Kenyan.
The Vice President’s ancestors are from Ireland.
New York alone is said to have more Jews than Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. The entire immigration controversy of the moment arises because a chunk of the Mexican population is pouring over the U.S. Border.
The real “United Nations” is not the handful of people with titles crowded into that glass building on the banks of the East River in Manhattan.
The real United Nations is in fact the United States of America. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of July 1, 2013, America is the third most populous country in the world, with over 316 million people in its resident population. That population is made up entirely -- 100% -- of human beings from every other country on Planet Earth.
Only America is composed of Iraqis and Iranians, Russians and Poles, Muslims, Jews and Christians, Mexicans and Brazilians, the Irish and the Italians and the Germans and the Japanese and Koreans, Chinese, Cubans, Indians, Pakistanis, and so on and on endlessly. Notably, this conglomeration of races and ethnicities results in the inevitable intermarriages. Among the less commented issues in the brouhaha over Anthony Weiner and wife Huma Abedin is that the couple, whatever else their situation, is in fact very, very American. Weiner is a New York Jew, Abedin a Muslim raised in Saudi Arabia. Which makes them utterly American.
In a very real sense, America is a nation of mutts. With every race and ethnicity, not to mention religion, marrying every other race, ethnicity and religion. It is extremely common for an average American to have several national identities flowing through his or her bloodstream.
Ronald Reagan once rhapsodized that one could live in England and never be an Englishman. One could move to France and never be a Frenchman.
Because England and France… and every other country on the globe… is based on nationality.
Except America. America alone is based on an idea.
This being the case, the issue should be quite simple. If you wish to be an American -- and you are here legally -- then be one. Not an American with dual citizenship -- but an American alone.
There is a considerable argument to be made that retaining the formal citizenship of another country once a naturalized American makes for an “American” of divided loyalties, with the individual in question less likely to identify as an American. For those coming to America from non-English speaking countries the problem can exacerbate the ability learn English or even consider America as “home” -- in spite of the fact of living here.
But it also raises the very interesting and un-discussed issue of whether it is time for America -- the real United Nations -- to demand votes for its citizens in other countries where dual citizenship is allowed. And perhaps in countries even where it isn’t. Which raises the question: If there was a movement that began turning the tables on the demands from other countries -- the immigration issue with Mexico being but one -- how would it work?
Let’s start with Mexico.
A central issue in the immigration issue is that there are said to be 11-12 million “illegals” already in the U.S., with more pouring over the border every day. These people are not just coming from Mexico, either, although obviously they are crossing the Mexican-U.S. border to get here. They come from Mexico -- but also from other Central and South American countries as well.
The demand is at a fever pitch on the American Left and within the Washington Republican Establishment to give these people from other countries, none of whom are American citizens, everything from a driver’s license to health care and a free education. A “path to citizenship” as the phrase goes. A path that many see as including -- yes -- the right to vote.
What would happen if, as mentioned, the tables were turned?
In the 2012 presidential election, some 126 million-plus American citizens cast votes for either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. And that doesn’t count the votes for assorted third party candidates -- Libertarians, Greens, Constitutionalists, etc. etc.
As of July, 2013 Mexico has a total population -- not a voting population, a total population -- of some 116-plus million Mexicans. Ten million less than the number of Americans who, alone, voted for Obama or Romney. Which is another way of saying: if Americans demanded of Mexico the same thing Mexicans and supporters of illegal immigration are demanding of America -- Mexico would quickly become an American province. Essentially the 51st state -- minus U.S. Senators and Congressmen to represent them.
The move would be on to rewrite the Mexican constitution.
What’s in the Mexican constitution that American voters might have an interest in voting to change? A number of things.
Over at the Institute for World Politics there is an excellent analysis of the Mexican constitution -- appropriately titled Mexico’s Glass House. It makes this ground breaking point:
….since Mexican political leaders from the ruling party and the opposition have been demanding that the United States ignore, alter or abolish its own immigration laws, they have opened their own internal affairs to American scrutiny. The time has come to examine Mexico's own glass house.
It says, in part, that the Mexican constitution:
… expressly forbids non-citizens to participate in the country's political life. Non-citizens are forbidden to participate in demonstrations or express opinions in public about domestic politics. Article 9 states, "only citizens of the Republic may do so to take part in the political affairs of the country." Article 33 is unambiguous: "Foreigners may not in any way participate in the political affairs of the country.”
- Immigrants and foreign visitors are banned from public political discourse.
- Immigrants and foreigners are denied certain basic property rights.
- Immigrants are denied equal employment rights.
- Immigrants and naturalized citizens will never be treated as real Mexican citizens.
- Immigrants and naturalized citizens are not to be trusted in public service.
- Immigrants and naturalized citizens may never become members of the clergy.
- Private citizens may make citizens arrests of lawbreakers (i.e., illegal immigrants) and hand them to the authorities.
- Immigrants may be expelled from Mexico for any reason and without due process.
If Mexico were to wake up one fine morning and find that America is demanding of Mexico what is being demanded of America -- 100% participation in American society and politics by illegals on a par with American citizens -- it would give the immigration issue a very interesting turn indeed.
But why focus just on Mexico? Just because Mexico sits on the U.S. southern border is no reason to single it out.
From “A” for “Albania” to “U” for United Kingdom” some 60 countries play the game the U.S. allows of dual citizenship. This includes countries in Central and South America like El Salvador and Colombia, whose citizens are among those counted in the stream of illegals pouring over the Mexican border. It includes countries friendly -- Israel, Britain, France, Switzerland -- and countries who are a foe. The most prominent on that list Iran, a place that the U.S. has had poisoned relations with since Jimmy Carter was president.
Then there are those countries -- friend and foe alike -- that forbid dual citizenship: Japan, North Korea, China, Saudi Arabia among them. It is particularly striking that on this list are countries who maintain some version of ethnic or religious purity in their populations.
As mentioned, the real United Nations in this world isn’t in that building on the East River. The real United Nations is America itself. There is, in reality, no such thing as “Native Americans” much less a “native American.” Whether you were born last year in Pittsburgh or are descended from somebody who trudged over an Alaskan land bridge thousands of years ago, once upon a time “America” was empty of human beings. From the moment “Native Americans” began pouring into this empty North American continent thousands of years ago, America has been the magnet for the world’s immigrants.
Like Ted Cruz’s father, who brought his son and American wife to Texas, to raise his family in that most American of states, everybody here is from someplace “over there” or “down there” or “up there.”
Which brings us back to where we began.
Senator Cruz’s rejection of his Canadian citizenship was forthright:
Because I was a U.S. citizen at birth, because I left Calgary when I was 4 and have lived my entire life since then in the U.S., and because I have never taken affirmative steps to claim Canadian citizenship, I assumed that was the end of the matter,” he added. “Now The Dallas Morning News says that I may technically have dual citizenship. 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.
Good for Senator Cruz.
But the Cruz example shouldn’t stop with Senator Cruz.
No one in America should be allowed to hold dual citizenship -- anywhwere.
If you want to come to America -- come. Legally.
And when your hand goes up to take the oath of American citizenship -- hand in the passport of your country of origin.
If this isn’t to be the case, then perhaps Americans need to reconsider the immigration issue in another way altogether.
Giving 316 million Americans automatic Mexican citizenship -- with the right to vote -- might be the place to start the discussion.
Not to mention begin the discussion of Mexico’s lack of racial diversity.