FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Dual Citizens in Congress?

“You are not entitled to that information!” That’s what a staffer in Senator Markey’s office bluntly told me when I called to ask for help in identifying Members of Congress who hold dual citizenship.

Seems that’s a question no one wants to hear. The Internet sources are flaky, with only unreliable estimates for both House and Senate. So I telephoned the Washington, DC offices of my three Congressional representatives from Massachusetts to ask for their help in obtaining definitive data from the Congressional Research Service (CRS), which responds to Congressional offices, but not to the general public.

I might as well have asked the respondents for their social security numbers. While the responses the offices of Senator Warren and Congressman Keating were more polite than the one from Markey’s office, they were no more helpful. Two Warren office interns tried to assist, sending me some interesting but unrelated CRS reports. However, when their internships ended in August, I started all over again with a more permanent staffer. She promised to call back, but never did. I thought I had a promise from a Keating office aide to approach CRS, but she never responded to my several follow-up emails.

As a Harvard Kennedy School alum, I emailed the two professors recommended by a member of the fundraising office, but received no response.

Two prominent ethics in government NGOs manifested a similar lack of interest. Neither the Sunlight Foundation nor the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) saw fit to respond to my phone calls. Nor did my “tipline” submission to CREW spark a reply.

Meanwhile, I did obtain some useful information from the “Ask the Librarian” service of the Library of Congress. First, it referred me to links that reported Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s recent renunciation of her Swiss citizenship and Senator Ted Cruz’ renunciation of his Canadian citizenship. The librarian service also referred me to two government organizations, one of which provided me with a document listing Members born outside the United States and another more detailed CRS document entitled “Membership of the 113th Congress: A Profile,” dated August 26, 2014. The profile document includes cumulative Member data on party breakdown, age, occupations, education, Congressional service, religion, gender and ethnicity and military service, but nothing on dual citizenship. The provided reports came with a caveat: my source was not to be “quoted or cited.”

This week I filed a Freedom of Information Request to CRS asking for the names of Members of Congress who are dual citizens; or, if such data is not available, advice on where it can obtained. Given the omission of dual citizen topic in the Member profile cited above, I suspect that the relevant data is simply not being collected.

Until the Supreme Court decided otherwise in the 1967 case of Afroyim v. Rusk, a US citizen who voted in a political election in a foreign state would lose his US nationality. Afroyim opened the way for the acceptance of dual or multiple citizenship in US law.

Not all countries allow their citizens to obtain dual citizenship.   One country that does make it easy to become a dual national is Israel. Under its “Law of Return,” every Jew has the right to come to Israel as an oleh (a Jew immigrating to Israel) and become an Israeli citizen.

The recent experience of Lenny Lapon, a Jewish American citizen from Massachusetts, shows how automatic the conferral of Israeli citizenship can be. As Lapon described it when he publically renounced that citizenship last July, his flight to Israel in October 2010 resulted in the award of Israeli citizenship and an Israeli identification number. Thus it is likely that Jewish members of Congress became Israeli citizens if and when they visited Israel. We don’t yet know if this was the case for any or all of the visiting Jewish Members. Nor do we know if any such member has renounced Israeli citizenship.

Religion and ethnicity in such a diverse country as the US raise no serious conflict issues (1) because neither of those identifications takes precedence over citizen loyalty to the US and (2) because both religion and ethnicity of Members are transparent to the public.

Why is it important for citizens to know if their representatives in Congress are dual citizens? Because both real and apparent conflicts of interest erode the public trust. If there are dual citizens in Congress or in top levels of the Executive Branch, citizens may reasonably demand that all foreign citizenship be renounced as a condition of high political office.

At the level of individual members, transparency is essential. For example, a constituent should know whether or not another state loyalty is involved when his or her representative speaks out on a major issue, such as on military assistance to Israel or recognition of Palestine as a state. Only if we know who are the dual citizens in Congress and what are their second countries, can we intelligently assess the credibility of their policy statements and actions.

Responding to the Markey staffer, we are entitled to that information.

L. Michael Hager is a retired lawyer and diplomat whose work has been published in the Washington Post, LA Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, The Hill, International Herald Tribune, London Independent, Jordan Times, and Truthout. He was the executive director of Conflict Management Group in Cambridge, MA, president of the Education For Employment Foundation in Washington, DC., and co-founder of the International Development Law Organization in Rome. He now resides inMassachusetts.

More articles by:

L. Michael Hager is cofounder and former Director General, International Development Law Organization, Rome.

August 15, 2018
Jason Hirthler
Russiagate and the Men with Glass Eyes
Paul Street
Omaorosa’s Book Tour vs. Forty More Murdered Yemeni Children
Charles Pierson
Is Bankruptcy in Your Future?
George Ochenski
The Absolute Futility of ‘Global Dominance’ in the 21st Century
Gary Olson
Are We Governed by Secondary Psychopaths
Fred Guerin
On News, Fake News and Donald Trump
Arshad Khan
A Rip Van Winkle President Sleeps as Proof of Man’s Hand in Climate Change Multiplies and Disasters Strike
P. Sainath
The Unsung Heroism of Hausabai
Georgina Downs
Landmark Glyphosate Cancer Ruling Sets a Precedent for All Those Affected by Crop Poisons
Rev. William Alberts
United We Kneel, Divided We Stand
Chris Gilbert
How to Reactivate Chavismo
Kim C. Domenico
A Coffeehouse Hallucination: The Anti-American Dream Dream
August 14, 2018
Daniel Falcone
On Taking on the Mobilized Capitalist Class in Elections: an Interview With Noam Chomsky
Karl Grossman
Turning Space Into a War Zone
Jonah Raskin
“Fuck Wine Grapes, Fuck Wines”: the Coming Napafication of the World
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change Bites Big Business
Alberto Zuppi - Cesar Chelala
Argentina at a Crossroads
Chris Wright
On “Bullshit Jobs”
Rosita A. Sweetman
Dear Jorge: On the Pope’s Visit to Ireland
Binoy Kampmark
Authoritarian Revocations: Australia, Terrorism and Citizenship
Sara Johnson
The Incredible Benefits of Sagebrush and Juniper in the West
Martin Billheimer
White & Red Aunts, Capital Gains and Anarchy
Walter Clemens
Enough Already! Donald J. Trump Resignation Speech
August 13, 2018
Michael Colby
Migrant Injustice: Ben & Jerry’s Farmworker Exploitation
John Davis
California: Waging War on Wildfire
Alex Strauss
Chasing Shadows: Socialism Won’t Go Away Because It is Capitalism’s Antithesis 
Kathy Kelly
U.S. is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen
Fran Shor
The Distemper of White Spite
Chad Hanson
We Know How to Protect Homes From Wildfires. Logging Isn’t the Way to Do It
Faisal Khan
Nawaz Sharif: Has Pakistan’s Houdini Finally Met his End?
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Versus Journalism: the Travails of Fourth Estate
Wim Laven
Honestly Looking at Family Values
Fred Gardner
Exploiting Styron’s Ghost
Dean Baker
Fact-Checking the Fact-Checker on Medicare-for-All
Weekend Edition
August 10, 2018
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Militarizing Space: Starship Troopers, Same As It Ever Was
Andrew Levine
No Attack on Iran, Yet
Melvin Goodman
The CIA’s Double Standard Revisited
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The Grifter’s Lament
Aidan O'Brien
In Italy, There are 12,000 American Soldiers and 500,000 African Refugees: Connect the Dots 
Robert Fantina
Pity the Democrats and Republicans
Ishmael Reed
Am I More Nordic Than Members of the Alt Right?
Kristine Mattis
Dying of Consumption While Guzzling Snake Oil: a Realist’s Perspective on the Environmental Crisis
James Munson
The Upside of Defeat
Brian Cloughley
Pentagon Spending Funds the Politicians
Pavel Kozhevnikov
Cold War in the Sauna: Notes From a Russian American
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail