Dual Citizenship--why do we allow it?

I am perplexed by the US policy that permits individuals who are citizens of other countries to hold extremely sensitive and important positions in the US government. This includes the NSA, CIA, State Department, etc.

The reason often given is that the US does not RECOGNIZE dual citizenship and, therefore an individual’s sworn allegiance to another country apparently just isn’t an issue because we, somehow, are able to pretend it doesn’t exist–contrary to the individual’s own choices.

If the State Department were filled with individuals with Dual Russian citizenship, I would think the potential problems would be obvious.

From a policy perspective why do we allow this? Individuals with a sworn allegiance to another country will not, by definition, be independent in evaluating America’s best interests when making policy decisions.

I’m not asserting that these individuals are ‘spies’ or are not ‘acting in good faith’. Regardless, they serve two masters. We don’t even let American lawyers do this.

Why do we allow policy makers to serve with this conflict of interest?

Well first of all, I think you’re probably overestimating the number of Americans, in general that have dual citizenship, and secondly, the number in government. I think when it comes to a job like that, there is probably zero consideration on what citizenship is. If I were born to a European and American parents I would have both. Now, did I at any point swear an allegiance? Never. I’d imagine that most Americans, living in America with dual citizenship have come to America later and thus only swore to stick with the US.

Don’t you think that the US Government takes it seriously? There are people who betrayed the US to the USSR without ever having been a citizen. Loyalty in that sense is pretty much subjective and you can only trust your opinion of the person, not where he was born.

I really see no problem with it.

I think you’re also ignore the laws of other countries. Some countries do not recognize the right of their citizens to relinquish citizenship. That means that regardless of their intent and their declaration upon naturalization in the US, the other country still considers them to be a citizen of that country.

A standard part of getting the required security clearances is renunciation of non-US citizenship, in my experience.

Also, the concern isn’t necessarily that dual-citizens are double agents, so much as foreign governments granting travel visas that the US government would deny based on the risk of kidnapping to the individual.

Ah, but there’s the rub. HAS that individual **sworn allegiance ** to that other nation?

Or is rather it just that said individual may have been assigned one or more legal nationalities at birth, by either jus solis (law of place) or *jus sanguinis * (law of bloodline, i.e. inherited), and have NEVER “sworn allegiance” to any applicable country, except probably the US if he or she is a naturalized citizen?

I was born a US citizen and raised in US territory. Yet it was almost 24 years before for the first time ever I was sworn to uphold the constitution and laws of the USA (no, in my school we never pledged the flag). (BTW you can join the US military without being a citizen, just a green card will do).

As an earlier poster mentioned, the security clearance process usually takes care of this* if the clearance level requires it*. In any case, the holding of a position of trust and authority in our government requires the holder to swear to defend and bear true faith to the Constitution and Laws of the USA against all enemies foreign or domestic. That some other country insists in claiming you as a citizen or national by accident of birth does not relieve you of this.

You can join the US military with a green card only as an enlisted soldier, officers must hold US citizenship, from what I heard.

gatorman, I believe the first sentence in my fourth paragraph covers that indirectly (officers need higher clearances).

BTW had I never enlisted, then probably my first-ever instance of “sworn allegiance” to the US would not have happened until I was in my 30s and held my first government post.

You may want to read up on the Dual Citizenship FAQ: Dual Nationality and United States Law.

An enlisted soldier who cannot be promoted to a position of any officership at that, including that of a non-commissioned officer. That means he/she wouldn’t be able to go above the level of an E-3 (something that takes most guys, what, only 1.5 - 2 years to achieve?).

Quinbus, how are you going to stop some other country from saying that their citizens can’t renounce citizenship?

How are you going to stop some other country from saying that it’s OK to gain their citizenship without renouncing previous citizenship?

What do you propose to do, forbid people in the first case from becoming US citizens and disown those in the second?

I too am puzzled by my supposed ‘sworn allegiance’ to two ‘masters’ (neither being the US).

Citizenship is about a state’s recognition of an individual, not the other way around. This is the fundamental premise on which the OP founders.

But isn’t serving in the US military a recognised way of gaining citizenship?

Wrong. A foreign national in the Armed Forces of the United States may advance to the paygrade of E8 without becoming a United States citizen. With approval of the service Secretary, they may advance to paygrade of E9. Non-Commissioned Officers (known as Petty Officers in the Navy and Coast Guard) are in the paygrades of E4 through E9 with the exception of US Army Specialists (E4) and (IIRC, I’m willing to be corrected) US Air Force Senior Airman (E4).

Serving in the US Armed Forces is a way of expediting the naturalization process. Current Immigration law requires the foreign national to first immigrate and then, as a Resident Alien, they may enlist into the Armed Forces. One may no longer enter the US for the sole purpose of enlisting as was done in the past.

Indeed, it’s very comon for people to be dual citizens by birth. My younger brother is one: he was born in the UK, so he’s a UK citizen; and our father was an Australian-born British subject, so my brother became an Australian citizen when he set foot in Australia at the age of 7.

(Note: when I use the word “was” about my father, I don’t mean that he’s dead – just that he’s no longer a British subject, since that status no longer exists under Australian law.)

the US tolerates dual citizenship, and embassies abroad can actively discourage it. there’s a pit thread or two on the subject from my personal experience as a father of dual nationals.

If you can be a non-U.S. citizen in the military, why not in other government occupations, Quinbus? I don’t see you railing against non-citizens in the military, and that’s a much more common scenario than dual citizenship.

I was born on U.S. soil, but also am citizen of another country by birth - I never “swore allegiance” to either country. I didn’t even know I was a citizen of the the other country until I was an adult. If another country considers you its citizen, there’s not a whole lot you can do about it without going through a lot of trouble.

I think “swearing allegiance” (whatever that is) is overrated: if you’re the type of character who would betray the trust of your employer, or are the type that tends to break promises, or is easily corruptible, then “swearing allegiance” isn’t going to stop you from doing bad things.

It seems to me that the U.S. government’s problem is really the other way around. When I was growing up, a lot of my parents’ friends and acquaintances were green card holders who held federal jobs in all kinds of departments, including as civilian employees of the U.S. Air Force. These days, nearly all federal jobs, even the most removed from national security, require citizenship. It seems to be overboard and an unnecessary hardship on green card holders.

Are you saying that lawyers are not permitted to be dual citizens. I don’t know about other branches of government but when my son graduated from college, he interviewed with a recruiter for NSA, who told him that in order to work there, he would have to renounce his Canadian citizenship.

FYI, here’s what NSA’s web site (www.nsa.gov/) says about dual citizenship and employment:

Interestingly enough, a friend of mine just had a baby and the baby has three citizenships.

She is a US Citizen, her husband is a British subject and they live in Israel. The child will have all three citizenships.

Zev Steinhardt