Citizenship Status Domestically and Internationally – illustrated

To illustrate the principle, let’s supply some fictitious specifics…

Case 1

A person is born in foreign country GooGooGaGaLand to US citizen parents. The US and GooGooGaGaLand have a treaty reciprocally recognizing (or “harmonizing”, if you will) their naturalization laws.

A few years later the family returns to the US. US law recognizes the foreign born child as a “citizen”. Many years later as an adult, the child travels to GooGooGaGaLand. GooGooGaGaLand recognizes this person as a US citizen and he is unmolested.

Case 2

A person is born in foreign country GooGooGaGaLand to US citizen parents. The US and GooGooGaGaLand do not have a treaty.

A few years later the family returns to the US. US law recognizes the foreign born child as a “citizen”. Many years later as an adult, the child travels to GooGooGaGaLand. GooGooGaGaLand recognizes this person as a GooGooGaGaLand citizen and impresses him into military service.

Now substitute Great Britain for GooGooGaGaLand.

Or Canada for GooGooGaGaLand.


Suppose the child was fourteen years old when the family returned to the US.

In Case 1 where the US and GooGooGaGaLand have a treaty the child, now adult, visits his childhood friends any number of times without incident. He maintains friendships and associations with the foreign country.

In Case 2 where the US and GooGooGaGaLand do not have a treaty the child, now adult, visits his childhood friends any number of times without incident. He maintains friendships and associations with the foreign country.

Scenario A

The child, now adult – let’s call him “X” from here on – is elected to the US Legislature. A dispute of some sort arises between the US and GooGooGaGaLand. As a Representative or Senator the direct influence, the power, the vote, of X is diluted by his membership in a multimember body. His desire not to harm his friends is understandable, it’s entirely human. The effect of any partiality is mitigated.

Scenario B

X is elected US President. A dispute of some sort arises between the US and GooGooGaGaLand. Congress passes a bill detrimental to GooGooGaGaLand. His desire not to harm his friends is understandable, it’s entirely human. X vetoes the bill. The effect of any partiality is still mitigated, his veto could be overridden, but the power of the individual is diluted to a much smaller degree than in the Legislature, it will take the joined power of many individuals to overcome the veto – the partiality – of this one individual.

Scenario C

There is a war and the Commander in Chief rules out bombing of a strategic GooGooGaGaLand city – the home of his childhood and his friends.

.

Now let’s introduce Case 3 – a child born within the US to US citizen parents. Let’s call him “Y”.

The existence or not of a treaty between the US and GooGooGaGaLand is of no consequence, Y can travel between the two countries without incident (short of the foreign country being beligerent/warlike).

While it is certainty true that Y may be a GooGooGaGaLand-phile, or that after the child’s birth the family may have relocated to GooGooGaGaLand, or that perhaps Y harbors some imagined ties or vestigial partiality due to familial heritage, in the vast majority of instances the likelihood of any real tie to GooGooGaGaLand is remote. How would this play out?

Scenario D

As in Scenario A, Y is elected to the US Legislature. A dispute of some sort arises between the US and GooGooGaGaLand. His desire not to harm his friends is understandable, it’s entirely human. It is very much more likely than not that his friendships are US. Like X in Case A, Y’s power is diluted, but it is likely of no unusual consequence: his interests are US interests.

Scenario E

As in Scenario B, Y is elected US President. A dispute of some sort arises between the US and GooGooGaGaLand. Congress passes a bill detrimental to GooGooGaGaLand. Y’s desire not to harm his friends is understandable, it’s entirely human. It is very much more likely than not that his friendships are US. As President he signs the bill into law.

Scenario F

As in Scenario C, there is a war. Y, the Commander in Chief orders the bombing of a strategic GooGooGaGaLand city. The home of his childhood and his friends is US.

.

Is the US more secure with a Legislator who is US born person of US parentage? Yes. And if the person is not the consequences are mitigated.

Is the US more secure with a President who is US born person of US parentage? Yes. And if the person is not the consequences could be severe.

The question posed, can a person who’s international status is dependent upon law or treaty be said to be a “natural born citizen”, is answered negatively. A status dependent upon law or treaty exposes an indelible tincture of foreign partiality, no matter how latent, and is a determining factor if not the single determining factor.

Are there exceptions? Certainly. Is it imperfect? Yes. It is not infallible. However, as a principle it is the strongest check practicably devisable.

It is Jay’s “strong check” while avoiding “illiberality” in the admission of foreigners.

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