Citizenship Reform Torpedoes
Immigration Reform Bill
by John Gaver
December 9, 2005
A new immigration reform bill, the "Enforcement First Immigration Reform Act of 2005", has been getting a lot of support by those who understand that it is imperative that we secure our borders. But, what most who support that bill do not know or may not realize the importance of, is that down near the end (Title VII), it contains a section on "Citizenship Reform", most of which is a first step towards making it illegal for US citizens to hold more than one passport, if it is passed with most of the "Citizenship Reform" section intact.
As we so often see in legislation at all levels of government, by focusing on something that is seriously needed and has wide support, legislators try and often succeed in sneaking in legislation that could not possibly stand on its own or is an incremental step in restricting the rights of US citizens. The most blatant use of this underhanded scheme was the Patriot Act, which included a few very needed pieces of legislation, while more than half of the act had nothing to do with fighting terrorism. The Enforcement First immigration bill is another one of those otherwise important bills that contains such effectively hidden deleterious language. Not only is the offensive language embedded deep within a valuable bill, but it paints an incorrect picture of the situation.
In fact, if you don't stop to think about it, as you read Title VII of the Enforcement First immigration bill, it sounds almost patriotic. After all, what patriot could possibly oppose the elimination of dual allegiance, which is the focus of Title VII? By tying it in with the much needed Enforcement First Immigration bill, it encourages the reader to focus on the strictly immigration related aspects of that section and ignore the underlying threats of such legislation. Furthermore, even the detrimental parts of Title VII, is placed immediately behind a very valuable subsection that limits citizenship at birth to only children born to a US citizen. The bill's sponsors did everything possible to mask the threat of sections 702 through 704.
A law that sends the wrong message
Three of the four sections in "Title VII - Citizenship Reform" of the Enforcement First immigration bill seeks to prohibit or discourage what is commonly referred to as dual citizenship, among naturalized citizens, without placing any such restriction on natural born US citizens. Before we consider the discriminatory aspect of this proposed legislation, let's look at who it targets. In fact, the targets are not illegal aliens or those who are here on student or work visas or those who overstay those visas or even permanent residents. This legislation targets the people who have come here legally, applied for citizenship and who have gone through the complete naturalization process - in other words, people who followed all the rules to come here and become a citizen. The punishment for an infraction under these new proposed "reforms" is a $10,000 fine and/or a year in prison.
So what message does such legislation send? Let's see, I can sneak into the US or even overstay a visa and the worst that I risk is being deported to the country that I came from, so I will have to sneak back in or I can legally go the the US, apply for citizenship, go through years of naturalization and then risk a year in jail and/or a $10,000 fine, if I use my second passport or do any of several other things that are allowed of natural born citizens. Hmmm? That's a tough one.
Hello?! What's wrong with this picture? What can those people in Congress be thinking? This will actually discourage legal immigration and encourage illegal immigration.
Incrementalism in action
In fact, any student of how Congress often works to subvert the Constitution should be able to see the method in the madness. It's just another method of incrementalism. Pass a bad law today, that unfairly subverts the rights of only a few people and only few will complain. Then, wait for it to be overturned in the courts and claim that we have to immediately re-write the law to make it pass judicial scrutiny. The only problem is that in order to remove the discriminatory aspect of the law, Congress will always choose to take away some of your rights, rather than restore some of theirs.
In this case, the bad legislation is aimed only at foreign born citizens, which will certainly be seen as discriminatory, in the courts.
Sec. 702(a) In General- Subject to subsection (b), each of the following acts performed by a naturalized citizen of the United States is deemed a violation of the Oath of Renunciation and Allegiance that was taken voluntarily by the citizen and are subject to a fine of $10,000, imprisonment for one year, or both:
Because this proposed legislation applies only to naturalized citizens, it effectively creates two classes of citizens and invites a court challenge on the basis of discrimination against naturalized citizens. Such a challenge will certainly overturn that law, in court. When the court finally throws out the law, because it discriminates against one group of citizens, many in Congress will then make public statements, claiming that this is a terrible blow to our security and that we need to immediately rewrite the law, so that it doesn't discriminate. Of course, they will claim that the only way that they will be able to do that is to target natural born citizens, as well. The end goal is not to simply deny immigrants the right to dual citizenship, but to deny all US citizens the right to dual citizenship.
Why should eliminating dual citizenship for all US citizens matter to the average American? To understand where I'm coming from, you must look at two things. First, you must consider that unlike citizens of almost every other nation on Earth, US citizens are required to pay tax on all of their income, regardless of where in the world they reside or where in the world the income was earned or is domiciled. Second, you must look at who comes to the US (immigrates) and who leaves the US (emigrates).
It doesn't take a PhD statistician to realize that most of those who immigrate to the US are poor and most of those who emigrate from the US are at least somewhat wealthy, if not enormously wealthy. After all, the poor don't leave the US. They can't afford to leave. But they come here in droves, to improve their standard of living. The wealthy, on the other hand, who can easily afford to move offshore, are facing an increasingly intrusive government here at home, that seeks to control more and more of their financial and personal affairs. They are also facing frivolous lawsuits in record numbers. As a result, they are fleeing to more wealth-friendly jurisdictions at an increasing rate. Even so, most of those who emigrate to other countries and take citizenship there, retain their US citizenship. That means that they are still responsible for paying US taxes on their worldwide income.
So let's look at the financial effect of this migration pattern. Since immigrants are primarily in the bottom half of income earners, their effect upon the overall economy is minimal, even when they come here in large numbers. After all, in 2003, the taxes of the bottom half of income earners only amounted to 3.46% of the total taxes collected that year. On the other hand, since emigrants from the US tend to be in the higher income brackets, their effect is much more significant. In 2003, those who made just $94,891, were in the top 10% of income earners and paid roughly two-thirds of the total taxes collected that year. I use that number because it represents a tax threshold that is near the income level that would make it difficult for someone who earned less, to move offshore.
The problem with eliminating dual citizenship, is that it doesn't take into effect, just how many US citizens currently reside abroad. A July 1999 report titled, "Private American Citizens Residing Abroad", compiled by the US Bureau of Consular Affairs, showed that just those US citizens who reside abroad that the bureau knows about numbers almost four million.
We aren't talking about Americans, living on some tax haven island in the Caribbean, either. According to that report, about 200,000 US citizens live in London, alone. Between Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary, that number is well over half a million and that doesn't consider the rest of Canada.
There is no way of knowing just how many of those US citizens living abroad hold dual passports. However, most of those people are long term residents of the country where they now live and as such, would likely have obtained citizenship there, if only to have the additional benefits of citizenship.
These are people who, if forced to choose, would probably renounce their US citizenship, in favor of that of the country where they now live. This of course, would make this group of mostly wealthy people no longer subject to US taxes on their worldwide income. Oops!
Do you begin to see where this is leading?
The part of the Enforcement First Immigration bill that deals with dual citizenship pretends to target just poor foreigners coming into the US. But, the mere fact that it is designed so that it will certainly be overturned upon the first court challenge, indicates that this is nothing but a stepping stone to their goal. In the end, it will also affect the millions of US citizens, who currently live abroad and who, for good reason, hold dual or even multiple citizenships. If we force them to choose, it's not hard to guess what that choice will be. Such an ill-conceived law would result in a significant reduction in our tax base, leaving US citizens, here at home, to pick up the slack, in the form of higher taxes.
"Citizenship Reform" section misrepresents the facts
The wording of Section 702 of the Enforcement First immigration bill is designed to intentionally mislead people into thinking that current law does not already provide for loss of citizenship if any US citizen serves in the armed forces of a foreign nation or takes employment from a foreign government. Here are the acts that are listed in that section that are considered a violation of allegiance:
- Voting in an election of the foreign state in which the persons were previously a subject or citizen.
- Running for elective office of the foreign state in which the persons were previously a subject or citizen.
- Serving in any government body (executive, legislative, or judicial, national, provincial, or local) of the foreign state in which the persons were previously a subject or citizen.
- Using the passport of the foreign state in which the persons were previously a subject or citizen.
- Taking an oath of allegiance to the foreign state in which the persons were previously a subject or citizen.
- Serving in the armed forces of the foreign state in which the persons were previously a subject or citizen.
Notice that number three, among those sanctioned acts, suggests by its very presence that there must not already be any provision in US law, to regulate US citizens who serve in a foreign government. But, just open any passport (a document to which I'm sure every congressman has ready access) to page 4 and read it for yourself. Under the heading, "LOSS OF CITIZENSHIP", number four of the five ways listed, whereby you can lose your US citizenship, is "accepting employment with a foreign government". That's even broader than the statement, "Serving in any government body of the foreign state in which the persons were previously a subject or citizen." That covers any type of employment, with any foreign government. This is already cause for any US citizen to lose his US citizenship.
Number six, among those sanctions, similarly suggests that there is no law in place that would regulate the serving in a foreign military, of a US citizen. Once again, I refer you to your passport. Number three of the five ways, whereby you can lose your US citizenship is "serving in the armed forces of a foreign state". It's already a part of US law and since it is plainly stated in every US passport, every congressman should already know that.
The only reason that such wording was included in the dual citizenship section was to give the false impression that such provisions do not already exist, so as to make the situation look bad, as a way of distracting the reader's attention from the all too real problems with that section.
Remove "Dual Citizenship" sanctions from the immigration bill
We urge you to call or write your Congressman, especially if he is on one of the committees listed below, and tell him/her that regardless of how good the "Enforcement First Immigration Reform Act of 2005" may otherwise be, it must not be passed with the citizenship sanctions in Title VII, Sections 702-704, as a part of it. If the citizenship sanctions are not removed, then this otherwise valuable bill must be voted down. Once the bill's authors realize that they can't push this one by the people, they will introduce a similar bill, without such stealthy attacks upon our freedoms included.
Rather than targeting people who have gone through all of the steps to LEGALLY become a citizen of the US, the bill should target those who are here illegally or at the very least are not US citizens. This isn't about protecting our borders or stopping illegal immigration. It is exclusively about gaining additional control over US citizens and for no good reason. This assault upon our freedoms must be stopped, before it becomes yet another brick in the rhetorical Berlin Wall that the US government has been slowly erecting, to force US citizens to stay in the US with their money.
At this time, the "Enforcement First Immigration Reform Act of 2005" must pass through the following House Committees:
- House Judiciary Committee
- House Armed Services Committee
- Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities
- House Ways and Means Committee
- House Financial Services Committee
- House Homeland Security Committee
- House Government Reform Committee
If the "Citizenship Reform" section is not removed from this bill, in committee, it will be very difficult to gather enough votes to get the bill voted down on the floor. Furthermore, the "Enforcement First Immigration Reform Act of 2005" is otherwise, a very valuable bill and we don't want to have to delay it by having to vote it down in its first version and wait for it to be reintroduced, without the offending text. That's why it is so important that each of us act now.
Call your congressman at the telephone number listed in the Congressional Phone Directory.
Email your congressman, using the "writerep" form on the House web site.
Do it now! Time is running out.
Copyright 2005 John Gaver
All rights reserved