The Nation Publishes Misinformation on Dual Nationality

May 28th, 2012 | By | Category: The Nation

An editorial in The Nation of 27th May includes misleading and sensationalistic claims about dual nationals. The piece titled ‘Foreign Nationality’ claims that “while the UK allows dual nationality, the USA does not” and “those naturalized as American citizens not only have to abjure any previous citizenship, but also have to take the American oath of allegiance, which involves an oath to defend the USA even to the extent of bearing arms”. This is incorrect.

Our research revealed that the US allows dual nationality and does not require anyone to rescind any previous citizenship. The following information is from US Department of State website:

A U.S. citizen may acquire foreign citizenship by marriage, or a person naturalized as a U.S. citizen may not lose the citizenship of the country of birth.U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one citizenship or another. Also, a person who is automatically granted another citizenship does not risk losing U.S. citizenship. However, a person who acquires a foreign citizenship by applying for it may lose U.S. citizenship. In order to lose U.S. citizenship, the law requires that the person must apply for the foreign citizenship voluntarily, by free choice, and with the intention to give up U.S. citizenship.

According to the US government, dual nationals owe allegiance to both countries, and their oath of citizenship to the US does not overrule their oath to the country of previous citizenship.

However, dual nationals owe allegiance to both the United States and the foreign country. They are required to obey the laws of both countries. Either country has the right to enforce its laws, particularly if the person later travels there. Most U.S. citizens, including dual nationals, must use a U.S. passport to enter and leave the United States. Dual nationals may also be required by the foreign country to use its passport to enter and leave that country. Use of the foreign passport does not endanger U.S. citizenship.

The US Supreme Court has also accepted dual citizens. In the case of Kawakita vs. US  the US Supreme Court decided that “a person may have and exercise rights of nationality in two countries and be subject to the responsibilities of both. The mere fact he asserts the rights of one citizenship does not without more mean that he renounces the other.” In the same case, the US Supreme Court stated that dual citizenship is a “status long recognized in the law.” Another US Supreme Court case, Schneider v. Rusk ordered that a US citizen who returns to his native country to participate as a citizen of that country remains a US citizen even if he never returns to America. Striking down a law that would strip dual citizens of their American citizenship if they returned to their home country, the US Supreme Court wrote that:

This statute proceeds on the impermissible assumption that naturalized citizens as a class are less reliable and bear less allegiance to this country than do the native born. This is an assumption that is impossible for us to make.

In other words, according to the US Supreme Court, simply because a person takes dual citizenship it does not provide any reasonable evidence that they are not loyal citizens of either their home or adopted country.

The reality of America’s policy towards dual citizens actually goes beyond mere acceptance, further research shows. Rep. Michelle Bachmann (Republican), a member of the United States Congress and recent candidate for President of the United States has held dual citizenship with US and Switzerland since 1978. The American Congresswoman told the media that her dual citizenship is “a non-story”.

“I automatically became a dual citizen of the United States and Switzerland in 1978 when I married my husband, Marcus. Marcus is a dual American and Swiss citizen because he is the son of Swiss immigrants. As a family, we just recently updated our documents,” the Minnesota Republican and former presidential candidate said in a statement. “This is a non-story.”

Even her political opponent Jim Graves (Democrat) termed the issue of Bachmann’s dual citizenship as “a distraction”.

“This is simply another distraction,” said a spokesperson for Democratic challenger Jim Graves on Wednesday. “The Graves family is not interested in dual citizenship and they are proud to be Americans.”

The Nation appears to have failed to conduct basic background research and fact-checking before publishing its editorial, causing it to include incorrect information. Worst is that the misinformation is presented in a sensationalist manner by suggesting that Pakistanis with dual citizenship will take up arms against their homeland. Such irresponsible writings not only mislead the public, but threaten to divide the people against each other based on false suspicions.

We look forward to a full correction by The Nation editors.

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