By John Fonte, The Washington Times, March 22, 2005
When President Bush discusses immigration policy with Mexican President
Vicente Fox in Texas tomorrow, he should challenge the purpose and
legitimacy of Mexico’s promotion of dual citizenship. To understand the
significance of this issue, let us examine the case of Manual de la
Cruz. Mr. de la Cruz emigrated from Mexico in the early 1970s.
Eventually, he became an American citizen and took the Oath of
Allegiance in which he “absolutely and entirely renounced all
allegiance and fidelity” to any “foreign state.” Yet in 2004 Mr. de la
Cruz was elected to the Zacatecas state legislature and declared
loyalty to the Mexican Republic, violating the Oath of Allegiance that
he took to the United States. The point is not to pick on Mr. de la
Cruz, who seems to be a very gifted individual, but to examine the
relationship between dual citizenship and American democracy.
Unlike many other nations, American citizenship is not based on racial,
religious or ethnic identity. It is based, instead, on political
loyalty to American constitutional democracy. People from anywhere in
the world can become Americans. But if our great historical success in
assimilating millions of immigrants is going to continue, ultimately
newcomers must be loyal to the U.S. Constitution and not to any other
Mr. de la Cruz was elected as a member of the traditionally populist
anti-American, Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), whose Web site in
2003 had pictures not only of the currently fashionable Che Guevara,
but of V.I. Lenin.
The coming debate over immigration should not simply focus on
labor-market economics, while ignoring the integrity of U.S.
citizenship. When Congress and the Bush administration address changes
in immigration laws, they must address the threat that increasing dual
(and thus racial-ethnic) citizenship poses to the traditional American
concept that a naturalized citizen transfers political allegiance to
the United States.
In 1967, by a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned 200 years
of constitutional practice by prohibiting Congress from stripping U.S.
citizenship from naturalized citizens who vote in foreign elections.
Nevertheless, Congress has authority to enact legislation establishing
legal sanctions (such as heavy fines) against naturalized citizens who
clearly violate the Oath of Allegiance they freely took by voting in
foreign elections and being elected to foreign legislatures. These
sanctions would serve two purposes: (1) to discourage the practice, and
(2) to remind everyone (Americans and the rest of the world alike) we
are serious about the Oath of Allegiance and about our traditional
ideal of political rather than racial or ethnic citizenship. It is time
to add the idea of challenging and curbing dual citizenship to our
immigration reform discussion.