Dual Allegiance: A Challenge to Immigration Reform and Patriotic Assimilation
Publication Date: November 2005
Publisher(s): Hudson Institute
Author(s): John Fonte
• When immigrants become American citizens they take a solemn oath to “absolutely and entirely renounce” all previous political allegiances. They transfer their loyalty from the “old country” to the United States. Dual allegiance violates this oath.
• Dual allegiance is incompatible with the moral basis of American constitutional democracy because 1) Dual allegiance challenges our core foundation as a civic nation (built on political loyalty) by promoting an ethnic and racial basis for allegiance and, thus, subverts our “nation of (assimilated) immigrants” ethic; and 2) Dual allegiance violates the core American principle of equality of citizenship.
• The Founders, along with Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Louis Brandeis, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Felix Frankfurter, and Newt Gingrich, among others, have all affirmed that undivided political loyalty to the United States should be an absolute condition for citizenship.
• Mexican government policies today directly challenge the patriotic assimilation of immigrants, just as Italian government policies did in the past. What is different is that, in the past, the American government and elites opposed dual allegiance and insisted upon patriotic assimilation. Today, they are mute.
• In 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court in Afroyim v. Rusk, by a vote of 5-4, overturned 200 years of traditional American practice toward dual allegiance. Nevertheless, there is plenty of effective action that Congress could take within current Supreme Court interpretations.
• Given that almost all immigrants come from countries that permit dual citizenship, and given that Congress is currently examining immigration proposals that would result in a massive increase in the number of potential dual citizens, it is time to ask: Do we continue to permit the rapid increase in dual allegiance, which will happen by default if no Congressional action is taken, or do we begin to act to reject dual allegiance in principle and restrict it in practice?
• Congress should exercise its undisputed authority in this arena and prohibit certain acts (e.g., voting in a foreign election) that indicate dual allegiance. The purpose of such legislation would not be to punish people who have acted in good faith in the past, but to establish clear rules for the future in order to discourage and restrict dual allegiance. Such legislation would affirm the principles and norms that underlie our constitutional heritage and proud tradition of patriotically assimilating immigrants.