The State Department Has “Always” Recognized And Abided By Foreign Laws Concerning US Citizens Born With Dual Nationality.
Those who argue that the United States has no obligation to recognize and respect dual nationality – as to American citizens – have been unequivocally proved wrong by official correspondence between former Secretary of State Robert Lansing (who served from 1905-1920) and former Senator Henry Cabot Lodge.
The opinion of the State department was published in The American Journal of International Law, Volume 9. We shall begin with the factual background to this official inquiry:
“MY DEAR SENATOR LODGE: I have received your letter of June 5, 1915, in reply to my letter of June 2, concerning the detention in Italy for military service of Ugo Da Prato, who was born in Boston, August 25, 1895, and went to Italy in 1912 to study architecture, and whose father, Antonio Da Prato, a native of Italy, obtained naturalization, as a citizen of this country in the District Court of the United States at Boston, March 19, 1892; that is, before the son’s birth…
As Ugo Da Prato was born in this country after his father had obtained naturalization as a citizen of the United States, it does not appear that he can be considered an Italian subject under Italian law, and I have no doubt he will be released.”
Please take notice of two crucial facts. First, the State Department was particularly concerned that the father had naturalized before the son was born. Second, the State Department also took official notice of the nationality laws of Italy as a determining factor. Such recognition is necessary for many reasons, the least of which is the avoidance of diplomatic conflicts.
The correspondence between Lansing and Lodge provides a textbook example perfectly tailored to educate our nation on this issue.
In that correspondence (which I encourage you to read in full), Lansing refers to Article 11 of the Italian Civil Code. Article 11 stated that Italian subjects who naturalize in a foreign nation forfeit Italian citizenship.
Lansing’s correspondence also considers Article 12 which demanded that all former Italian citizens – who forfeited citizenship under Article 11 – were still required to serve in the Italian military.
As to Article 12, Lansing informed Lodge it would not be applicable to the son, since the son had been born after the father had naturalized in America. Therefore, according to Italian law, the son had never been an Italian citizen, so Italy could not claim him.
Lansing stressed that the son had been born after the father naturalized as a US citizen. Had the son been born before the father was naturalized, Italian law would have required the son to serve in the military. But since the son was born to a US Citizen in the US, Lansing assured Lodge of the son’s eventual release from custody.
Lansing’s confidence that the son would be released from custody is based upon his undeniable status as a natural born citizen of the US, whereas persons born to alien fathers in the US are susceptible to such custody by foreign nations. In my opinion, which I believe to be the same as the framers, no person deemed by the US State Department to owe direct allegiance to another nation should ever be eligible to the office of President.
As Secretary Lansing’s letter clearly indicates, had the son been born before his father naturalized, Italy could require him to serve in the military (and bear arms against the US). And there would have been nothing the US could do about it. This is a perfect example of why the US Commander In Chief should never have possessed dual allegiance. Such a state of affairs is completely unnatural to allegiance and to the oath of office.
Chester Arthur’s father was naturalized fourteen years after Chester was born. Therefore, Arthur would have been officially recognized as a British subject by the State Department had they known of this fact.
Obama’s father never became, or even applied for, US citizenship. Furthermore, Obama has admitted that his birth status was “governed by” the laws of the United Kingdom. Therefore, both Obama and Arthur, at the time of their births, according to the State Department, owed dual allegiance to the US and to the British monarch.
THE DISEASE OF DUAL ALLEGIANCE
Both Obama and Arthur owed allegiance to the British monarchy at the time of their births. Recognition and respect for that allegiance has always been the official policy of the US State Department. But Senator Lodge was not aware of that policy. He was in a misguided state of disbelief that any person could have dual nationality. Here is what Lodge wrote to Secretary Lansing:
“I note what you say in regard to the Italian law which obviously does not apply to young Da Prato, but, speaking generally I can not assent for a moment to the proposition that such a thing as dual citizenship is possible. As you well know, we constituted ourselves as champions against the doctrine of indefeasible allegiance and have succeeded in compelling the acceptance of our view by all the nations with the exception, I think, of Russia and Turkey. The abandonment of indefeasible allegiance is in itself the establishment of the principle that there can be no such thing as dual citizenship, either in whole or in part, and to attempt to retain the right over a boy, born in this country of parents not naturalized– which is not the case with Da Prato– for military service in the country of origin of the parents is absurd on its face and is something to which we should never assent for a moment…
Italy * * * has no possible claim on the children of Italian parents, not naturalized, born in this country, especially if they have exercised all the rights of citizenship as they are entitled to do under the 14th amendment to the Constitution. Such a child has never been an Italian subject for one minute. Italy has no more claim on him than she has on one of my children or one of yours…”
Secretary Lansing then clearly and cogently explained that Senator Lodge’s thoughts were legally misguided:
“As this general subject has been the cause of considerable comment I venture to discuss the matter at some length.
Dual nationality is not a theory or doctrine promulgated by the Department, but is the unavoidable result of the conflicting laws of different countries… The status of a person who is born a citizen of one country under the jus soli and a citizen of another country under the jus sanguinis is commonly termed dual nationality. Whether or not this term is considered apt, the fact remains that many persons are born citizens or subjects of two countries under their respective laws…
…Also, a person born in the United States of Italian parents is born a citizen of the United States under the law of this country, and a subject of Italy under the law of Italy. The fact of dual nationality has been recognized by the Department for many years. Secretary of State Fish in a report to the President dated August 25, 1875, said:
‘…Such children are born to a double character. The citizenship of the father is that of the child so far as the laws of the country of which the father is a citizen are concerned and within the jurisdiction of that country; but the child, from the circumstances of his birth, may acquire rights and owes another fealty besides that which attaches to the father. (Moore’s International Law Digest, Volume III, page 520.)’
…I desire further to call your attention to the following statement in the report of the citizenship board which was appointed during the administration of President Roosevelt… which report was forwarded to the Speaker of the House of Representatives by Secretary of State Elihu Root, with a letter of approval and commendation dated December 18 1906:
‘Inasmuch as our Government declares that all persons born in the United States are citizens of the United States, and also recognizes, as well as adopts, on its own part, the rule that children of citizens resident abroad are citizens of the country to which the parents owe allegiance there arises as will be seen a conflict of citizenship spoken of usually as dual allegiance. House Document No. 326, 59th Congress, 2d session, page 74.’ “
Lansing slams the point home – which is agreed upon by the three former Secretaries of State – that the true problem is dual allegiance (aka “dual fealty”).
For such a condition to exist as to the Commander In Chief of the US Armed Forces is total blasphemy to the oath of office required of the President. Such a condition is certainly not natural to the concept of allegiance.
But most important in quashing the favored argument of Obama ineligibility denialists is the statement by Secretary Root which confirms that – not only does the US recognize dual nationality – we have “adopted” it as the law of our own country.
Furthermore, Lansing felt it necessary to stress again the crucial importance of whether the child was born after naturalization of the father:
“For the reasons mentioned above, it is obviously important for the Department in dealing with the case of a person who was born in this country and had a father of Italian birth, to ascertain whether his father had previously acquired naturalization as a citizen of the United States. This is especially important when it is a case, such as that which you have presented, of a person who has not yet reached his majority.”
Because the United States has adopted the position that we shall abide by foreign nationality laws as to persons born with dual allegiance, such a person may be apprehended in a foreign country and forced to bear arms against the US. And there is nothing the US can do, from a diplomatic stand point, to force that person’s release.
Furthermore, no such person should ever desire to be President, especially if that person is a Constitutional scholar. It should be obvious to such a person that they would be submitting the nation to a Constitutional crisis. A true statesman would spare the nation such a debacle and perhaps be happy to serve his country as a Senator.
In conclusion, I shall reiterate that the US State Department has “always” recognized dual allegiance and has “adopted” it under law. Anyone who argues otherwise is either ignorant or lying.
by Leo Donofrio, Esq. (…with a big hat tip to my research team on this one.)
Pidgeon & Donofrio GP