Today I have heard of two stories regarding citizenship which lie outside the normal naturalization process (at least in terms of establishing permanent residence first, for a specified number of years, etc). Both involve a type of selling if you will. The first is a deal between two governments with the people gaining only marginal status and benefits (which they already should be entitled to). The second is more like a straightforward business deal between individuals and business, brokered through a government.
Peter Spiros, at at Opinio Juris says:
Citizenship for sale schemes have become an increasingly common phenomenon as the rich from non-Western states look to upgrade their travel privileges. The likes of Malta, Cyprus, and St. Kitts have had some success selling citizenship to plutocrats from Russia, China and other non-visa waiver countries. The revenues supply a nice fiscal bump at low marginal cost to these small states. The price is fairly steep (more than a million Euros in the case of Schengen-advantaged Malta) but the number of buyers has been relatively small. That’s cash-for-passports on a retail basis. We now have reports of the first wholesale purchase.
(Interesting that he does not mention the sale of those citizenships are also to those wishing to escape from tax evasion prosecution).
The “wholesale purchase” is a deal between the governments of Kuwait and the Comoros Islands (off the African coast). More than 100,000 Kuwait residents are legally stateless, and the country refuses to recognize them as its own, saying they entered the country illegally.
Comoros will issue passports in exchange for direct Kuwaiti investment into the building of schools and charities. With Comoros citizenship (though remaining in Kuwait), the illegal status will end allowing for some health and education benefits. I am not quite sure just what it is the Kuwait government actually gains from this agreement. It sounds like the benefits to its “resident aliens” will be minimal.
Atossa Araxia Abrahamian, a name early Brockers will recognize, has also weighed in on the plight of the Bidoon.
The Comoros-Gulf alliance presents a new model for governments trying to deal with stateless people in their countries without giving them the rights that come with full political and civic membership.
The citizenship could also put them at risk of deportation. While stateless people are difficult for countries to get rid of — their lack of documentation actually protects them from being sent away — foreign citizens can be kicked out at a moment’s notice. Jarrah said Kuwait did not have plans to deport the Bidoon wholesale, but that those who commit certain crimes could be liable for deportation.
International rights groups have also lambasted the scheme. The Islamic Human Rights Commission called Kuwait’s strategy “an affront to human dignity and justice” and “a cynical ploy to relieve itself of its own obligations to the Bidoon.
On the other end of the spectrum one finds the U.S. EB-5 investor program. Created in the 1990′s, it was intended to stimulate the economy through the creation of jobs via foreign investment. In return for putting up the funds, immigrants receive visas to live in the U.S.
EB-5 investors must satisfy a number of government requirements such as creating at least 10 jobs and risking a certain amount of money, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The program reached capacity for the first time in August 2014 when the State Department stopped issuing EB-5 visas until the beginning of the next fiscal year, October 2014.
A small town in Texas may be the next large project:
Akers said 30 Chinese EB-5 investors are investing $500,000 each—a total of $15 million—to help construct two 60,000 square foot office towers at 130 Commerce Center.The $15 million would be held in escrow while the federal government does security checks to ensure the funds are legitimate, legal and can be used in America, said Honts, a former Travis County commissioner.
Each EB-5 investor must risk $1 million, or if the investment is being used in a “targeted employment area,” the investment can be $500,000. A TEA is a rural or high-unemployment area, according to the USCIS. Akers said the 130 Commerce Center has been designated a TEA, and the PCDC will be working to expand Pflugerville’s TEA along SH 130. If all goes to plan, Pflugerville could get two new class-A office buildings, the PCDC could get a financial windfall and more than two dozen Chinese investors and their immediate families could receive green cards, PCDC Executive Director Floyd Akers said.
The Kuwait situation brings to mind a sort of human trafficking .These people are prisoners within their own countries; disowned by their own governments and denied basic human necessities. Somebody is paying money to issue a meaningless piece of paper which for some reason allows them a few, but not equal rights. Deportation is an issue. Bill C-24 anyone?
On first sight, the situation in the US looks to be completely different. That is until one considers the issue of the greencard. One is now a “US Person” and quite possibly stuck in the American tax system for life. To the best of my knowledge, there is no information to suggest that new immigrants are being advised of the necessity to report accounts remaining in the homeland and of the need to formally give up their status via a specific process (I-407).
And then you have us; Americans/”US Persons” abroad. While there is no comparison to the lack of quality of life for the Bidoon, we are reduced to a monetary value. Forced to buy our way out of the system – $2350 to the State Dept to process citizenship status and a large majority forced to deal with the ludicrous requirement to become tax compliant at great expense and possible risk of onerous penalty assessments.The longer one thinks about it, it seems impossible to come to any conclusion other than citizens are considered to be property of their respective governments. Peter Spiros says “States have near-complete discretion with respect to the extension of citizenship.” A rather chilling statement. Add to this the addition of the control elements via FATCA, NSA programs, et al, the concept of freedom seems to be fading away.
With thanks to Brockers Tim and Ann.