Wednesday, November 30, 2016

when is a citizen not a citizen?

Some odd things cross my desk. Some even cause me to start re-assessing my plans.

Yesterday, I received an email from my blogger pal Felipe over at
the unseen moon. He wanted to know if I had seen the latest post on surviving yucatan: "New Rules for Naturalized Mexican Citizens with US Passport Renewals."

I hadn't. But I have now.

Even though the author of 
surviving yucatan writes from a Merida-centric perspective, his posts are always insightful. And, because this particular post deals with an issue facing all naturalized Mexican citizens who renew their US passports, I thought I would pass along what he has to say.

Whenever I mention that I am considering becoming a Mexican citizen, the first question I am asked is: "Why do you want to give up your American citizenship?" Well, I don't.

At one time, it was very difficult for American citizens to retain more than one citizenship. That all changed with a Supreme Court case in 1967. It is now possible to collect citizenships as if they were Hummel figures -- or Humvees.

So, I thought that issue was long dead. But it appears to have raised its head in the guise of passport renewals.

The new American passport renewal forms contain an affirmation that begins: "I have not, since acquiring United States citizenship/nationality, been naturalized as a citizen of a foreign state; taken an oath or made an affirmation or other formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign state ... ." Of course, Mexican naturalized citizens have done just that: acquired citizenship in a foreign state AND sworn an oath to that state."

I will let you read on
surviving yucatan all about the almost Kafkaesque lengths the consular service goes through doing the Potomac two-step to avoid applying the affirmation. Why the form itself does not deal with the issue of dual citizenship is beyond me. But, then, why do The States have one of the most complicated personal and corporate tax systems in the world?

What the form does not do is place a naturalized Mexican citizen's American citizenship in jeopardy. The law is quite clear that if an American citizen wishes to renounce her citizenship, she can do it only through a very specific procedure that requires a positive renunciation. The problem with the form is not that it subtly causes citizenship problems, but that its affirmation is at odd with the fact of naturalization.

This little bit of news just underlines my cooling ardor for seeking Mexican citizenship. If you have not noticed, my passion for the idea has been reduced to a bit of ash and embers.

I wanted citizenship for two reasons. First, to vote, If I am going to live here, I would like a civic voice in the country I call my home.

Second, if I sell the house, I would like to take advantage of the personal residence exemption from capital gains tax. My understanding is that the government is currently limiting it to Mexican citizens only. (Of course, that could change at any time almost without notice.)

That is not really a consideration, though, because I have no plans of selling the house. When I die, it will be my brother's to deal with.

For the moment, I am keeping my powder dry. I do not need to renew my passport for another two years. Maybe then I will pull out the billows to re-light the citizenship fire.

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