Individuals have strategies for making decisions about either the citizenship they already have or the ones they would like to obtain. This is, of course, of deep interest to them personally but it is also of great interest to nation-states. Does it matter that Americans abroad are taking on other citizenships (or renouncing) or that naturalizations in the U.S. are very low? Of course it does. Just as it matters very much when a high-profile figure like Monsieur Depardieu publicly accepts a passport from another state and says, "I am a citizen of the world." It's not something that people are neutral about and it is quite naturally of deep concern to governments. It changes how people view a citizenship in particular (or the idea of citizenship overall) and it impacts how states behave at home and abroad. Dual citizenship can be complicated for an individual with all those intersecting rights and responsibilities - it is even more complex for states that must then make policy in response to it.
Why? Because for one thing it has an important impact on the raison d'être of the state: national security.
I came across this Master's thesis the other day when I was researching something else. It's called Denationalized Citizenship Theory: What is the role of citizenship theory in Homeland Security? by
Cherie A. Lombardi (Naval Postgraduate School in Monterrey, California, December 2011). I don't have a link for it but it is available on-line as a PDF and you can Google it. It's an interesting read not only for its synopsis of various formal theories of citizenship (and good links and books) but because the author gives some practical examples of how states struggle domestically and internationally with dual citizenship in a globalized world. The author also had some recommendations for the U.S. security community based on her research one of which was a pleasant surprise for me as an American abroad.
Ho does citizenship theory and policy play out domestically? One scenario Lombardi explores is the case of a dual Pakistani-American citizen who wants to work for the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation - you could call them the national police force in the U.S.) "But, before he is told what day he will start his new job, he is presented with one last form to complete and sign, a loyalty oath for dual citizens attesting that the United States of America will receive his primary loyalty while he works for the U.S. government." So the FBI's policy here (formulated in response to de facto acceptance in the US of dual citizenship) is that duals may serve but they must declare themselves as being loyal to (and only to) the United States of America. If Americans weren't allowed to be duals then such a thing would be superfluous. Right?
Even more interesting is that, while the FBI has made such a policy, other U.S. government agencies don't necessarily have the same requirement. Her research revealed:
Open source information shows that the same secondary loyalty oath (this is the FBI) (“secondary” due to the fact that it is an oath to be signed in addition to the required oath of any U.S. civil servant when starting the job) is required by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) whenever a dual citizen wants to join the organizations but, a call to the human resources section of the National Security Agency (NSA) revealed no such loyalty oath is required of dual citizens seeking employment in that organization.
What this says is that the U.S. government doesn't have one particular policy that applies to dual citizens in the U.S.who wish to work for the Federal government. Instead this appears to be managed agency by agency and apparently some choose to not have any formal policy (though you cannot tell me that they are indifferent to the citizenship(s) of their employees.)
"This situation symbolizes the lack of any formal consensus regarding dual citizenship, even among federal agencies, let alone the entire homeland security community."
Moving from the domestic to the international Lombardi talks about the changing context which is in part about the growing acceptance by so many countries in the world of dual citizenship. Latin America, for example, changed its citizenship laws to allow it and that had a huge impact on the ability of immigrants to the U.S. to retain their prior nationality even after becoming naturalized U.S. citizens.
But the other part which is equally significant is the ability of those duals, thanks to advanced communication technologies, to maintain a strong link with their other country of citizenship. As an migrant myself from the U.S. I have been personally rather grateful for these things because they have enabled me to maintain some contact with my home country and even, if I choose to do so, to be occasionally active in political life there. I am willing to admit, however, that there are some situations where this could be problematic.
Let's imagine, for example, a situation where one country was undergoing some sort of internal strife and duals used the host country as a base to support one side or another - even to the extent of trying to get the host country or other country of citizenship to do something about it. Lombardi points out that such a situation has in fact existed for years in the U.S. Cuban-Americans have been very active in U.S. politics and have tried to influence how the U.S. manages its relationship with Cuba. In France during the recent election some French politicians tried to win votes with the French-Armenian population by supporting some of their claims.
What is legitimate here and what isn't can be a tough call. Duals are still citizens of both countries and have a voice and the right to use that voice in both. Where is the line?
The question is more than just academic for all parties. Immigrants and duals can get into real trouble here with one or the other government. For immigrants and duals in the U.S. Lombardi cautions them because:
Currently, under the PATRIOT Act and the Immigration and Nationality Act, many of the activities that many immigrants would consider only to be assisting the political opposition, or freedom fighters, back home fall into the legal category of providing material support to terrorists, which renders them ineligible for most immigration benefits and status in the United States.
That's a policy that effectively limits what a dual can do in support of the home country (or elements within it). Aside from the law I think there is a kind of moral contract operating here as well. When it comes to the political activities, there are lines most of us do not cross and things that we do not do as a dual (or as a legal resident in another country far from home) because one suspects trouble - either potential legal problems (even if you are unsure of the exact policy of the state in question) or the moral outrage of the citizens of one or the other country.
I would argue that states do have a legitimate interest in those activities but Lombardi is right - it is not always so clear for the individual. Another example (just for fun): Let's say someone is a French-American dual citizen and sends money and offers open public support to organizations in the U.S. to maintain the death penalty? What if this person had some contacts in the French government and tried to lobby politicians and bureaucrats to either support the U.S. internationally or turn a blind to its activities? I'm sure that death penalty supporters in the U.S. would be thrilled. But would the French nation have a legitimate problem with that kind of behaviour? I am not sure what the French government (or the EU) would say but I'm pretty sure the French people I know would be furious.
Lombardi completes her analysis with some recommendations. I won't go over all of them here (gives you an incentive to read the paper) but I was surprised by this paragraph buried in the final pages of the thesis:
"The other lesson to be learned from all the discussion about how sending nations are trying to use their immigrant populations to affect U.S. policy is that the United States also has its own migrant population living in other nations around the world, and they too may serve as America’s voice in foreign lands. While it is beyond the scope of this thesis to recommend the use of Americans overseas to influence the policies of other nations, this is a call for the homeland security community to recognize and consider U.S. citizens living abroad as a resource for information collection and dissemination as well as contacts within other nations. Though the international aspect of homeland security is mentioned in both the National Security Strategy and the National Strategy for Homeland Security the role of U.S. citizens living abroad appears under-recognized and under-utilized by the homeland security community."May I humbly suggest that propositions of this nature must await the resolution of the American Diaspora Tax War of 2012/2013? Frankly, I don't think we are in the mood right now. :-)
Still, it might be a basis for negotiation and it sure was nice to get a nod.