Petros asks, What if a prominent dual citizen was required by his second nationality to serve his nation. What then?
Since the recent escalation of the war against rebels in East Timor, the Indonesian government has decided to conscript their most prominent dual citizen, President Barack Obama, into their armed forces. Furthermore, they have demanded that Barack Obama employ the full military might of the United States to aid them in their fight against the rebels.
Barack Obama’s Indonesian step-father moved him and his mother to the country when he was six years old. Obama also has a sister who is an Indonesian citizen. His citizen name in Indonesia was “Barry Soetoro”. The official reply from Barack Obama is that he only lived there as a small child and never really intended on keeping Indonesian citizenship. He has therefore declined to fulfill his military obligation. The Indonesians declared that if he wished to relinquish his citizenship, he had to do so at one of their consulates between the ages of eighteen years and eighteen years and six months. Since he never took this step, the Indonesians maintain their right to press him into military service. They have now taken the further step of trying him in a national court in abstentia. The court found him guilty of failure to fulfil his military duty. The conviction has resulted in a $100,000 fine per year of recalcitrance and a five-year mandatory prison sentence.
International law experts say that this conviction has no merit whatsoever. Furthermore, they claim that if President Obama never again visits Indonesia, he would not have to pay the fine nor serve his prison sentence. Secretary of the State Hilary Clinton said, “It is absolutely ridiculous that the Indonesians believe that they have any claim over President Obama. He left the country when he was nine years old and has only ever been back there one time. He only has a child’s knowledge of their language, and he was never really a citizen in the first place.” The Indonesians claim, however, that his father registered him as a citizen in a local school, and that makes him a citizen for life. They are not budging from their stance.
President Obama’s chief of staff said in a press conference, when reporters asked about Obama’s conviction and prison sentence, “Get a life. Next question?”
Question for Don Pomodoro; When Germany requires that foreigners becoming German citizens, is that a simple affirmation in their cititizenship oath that they “renounce any and all loyalties” to their former country, or does Germany require that such persons present a certificate of renunciation issued by their former country? The US requires a similar affirmation, but does not requre that the new citizen present a certificate of renunciation from their former country. The US recognizes that foreign persons who become naturalized US citizens, when they go back to visit their former country they will likely be considered by that country to still be its citizen.
The result is that the former country, depending on its own citizenship laws, will likely not recognize that kind of renunciation as a true renunciation, so if that person goes back where he came from he will be treated as still a citizen. Some countries, like Cuba and Argentina, do not allow their citizens to renounce. They are citizens for life no matter what affirmations they may make to a foreign power.
Germany certainly does not require persons born in Germany to a foreign parent to renounce their other citizenship in order to have German citizenship by birth. I know two persons born there to US parents. They are German citizens, but the US also considers them as US citizens since they have never formally renounced US citizenship before a US consular offical outside of the US. And I have a German friend who has a daughter born in the US when he was deployed here by a German company for several years. He is now retired in Germany. His daughter has both US and German passports since born outside of Germay to German parents she is a German citizen by birth. In view of all that is going in in the US with FATCA, etc., I know her renuciation of US citizenship, which when she was born was considered an asset is being considered as a nastly liability which she might well renouce while she has few assets. The US exit tax can be confiscatory if you have assets that meet a certain threshold value when you formally renounce US citizenship.
@geeeew – Don is absolutely right. The U.S. actually has a very low rate of naturalizations compared to other countries. Peter Spiro talks about this – the rates have been dropping for over 20 years. It used to be about 60% and is now about 37% The US is also NOT the number one destination for immigrants – Europe is. See the Migration Policy Institute World Migrant Map here for some numbers: http://www.migrationinformation.org/datahub/wmm.cfm
As for people going to the US for social welfare benefits, that’s just funny. The US has one of the worst social benefits systems around and that’s pretty well-known. Most migrants to the US understand that you are on your own when it comes to healthcare and other things that in other countries are provided by the state. That in and of itself does not seem to deter people. However, the state of the infrastructure does. I had an illuminating conversation with an Indian physicist on an airplane and he made some very intelligent observations about how if he moved to the US he would, for example, have to send his children to private schools. Lower taxes, yes, he said, but fewer services on the other. Someone with chlldren he thought would be much better off in Europe or Canada. I think he’s right.
You’re right – I have a friend who was born in Germany to US and German parents and he was allowed to keep both. If someone from outside of the EU naturalises in Germany though they do actually expect proof that the previous citizenship has been renounced before they will approve an application for German nationality. They even issue certificates of “guarantee of acceptance into the German nationality” that applicants show to, say, the US consulate as proof that they will have a nationality after they renounce. This conversely is also why you hear of many Germans who never naturalise whilst abroad, since if they live anywhere outside of the EU they will lose their citizenship by doing so. I have even heard that German consulates outside of the EU sometimes require passport applicants to provide a letter from the naturalisation services of their country of residence which states that they have not applied for citizenship there.
Don Pomodoro and others,
I have done further searching on the Internet and, as a result must post some corrections with regard my earlier postings with respect to the un-renounceablity of both Argentine and Cuban citizenship..
Under its current law, Argentina apparently does permit its citizens to renonce their citizenship. However it can only be done in person in Buernos Aries. This would appear, from a practical poing of view, from the information in your most recent post, to make it impossible for an Argentine citizen to become a Naturalized German citizen, since Germany requires proof of renunciation recognized or issued by the country of current citizenship in order to become a German citizen. If the Argentine citizen desiring to become a German citizen has to travel back to Argentina in order to renounce his citizenship and turn in his Argentine passport, he would be neither able to depart from Argentina nor be allowed to enter Germany without a passport since he would no longer have one, (unless there is a procedure in Germany that allows persons with no nationality to enter that country.)
Cuban Nationality law provides that Cubans who become citizens of another country automatically are deprived of their Cuban citizenship, with one exception: That exception is that nationality is not lost if the person becomes a citizen of the United States. The result is that chidren born outside of Cuba to Cubans who have become naturalized citizens of the US are Cuban citizens at and by birth. Another interesting facet of this is that Cubans resident in the United States must obtain Cuban visas in order to visit Cuba. US citizens who visit Cuba are required to have Cuban visas as well, but if they arrive in Cuba without a visa they can obtain a tourist visa at the airport on arrival, for a price.
The lack of any sort of similarity and the radical difference between the nationality and citizenship laws of the different countries of the world can indeed lead to sometimes very confusing situations.
@Roger, hahaha, exeption US. I actually know a Cuban who naturalized in the US many years ago. I bet the Cubans had that stance because many Cubans had to “forceably” give up Cuban citizenship many years ago. After the mid-eighties, all that went out the door and the US allowed dual-citizenship.
This person also told me that when he was in Venezuela, he got rounded up in a military checkpoint. When they saw his US passport and place of birth, they said “You are Cuban!” so go over there. The rest of the people were handled differently. I think it kind of “interesting” how sometimes the birth place is just as important as the colour of the passport.
So I think that when I finally get my CLN, I will definitely carry it with me on trips 🙂
Not sure if this is the right place for it, but ran across this today that I thought was fairly interesting. Didn’t check it out for accuracy..
CHICAGO – Did the parents of former Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers help finance Barack Obama’s Harvard education? Did Ayers’ mother believe Obama was a foreign student? And was the young Obama convinced at the time – long before he even entered politics – that he was going to become president of the United States? A retired U.S. Postal Service carrier who delivered mail to Tom and Mary Ayers in a Chicago suburb in the late 1980s and early 1990s and claims to have met Obama in front of the Ayers home emphatically says yes to all three questions.
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The citizenship certificate has been restored: