Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Dual-Citizenship Talk

Years ago, while in the military, I worked with a guy who was getting out of the Air Force in a year or two, and he had these business ideas....mostly involving work in Europe.  For some odd reason, he settled on the idea of needing another passport....another citizenship....without giving up the US citizenship.

At the time, I told him that this was pretty stupid and that the US didn't allow dual-citizenship.  He argued the point that what they didn't know....would make this all pretty simple.  On that point, I noted he was correct.  Unless you walk up to some border point and try to present both passports, that's about the only way that the idiots would know about your dual-citizenship scheme.

The country he was choosing?  Well, that was an odd thing too....Albania.  Naturally, I voiced concern that it was a former communist country....but he noted that the word "former"  was in my comment.  By the late 1990s....Albania was this weird hybrid country that was a mix of everything.  Today?  I'd go as far as saying it's 100-percent different from the 1980s image of some 3rd-world country, and actually becoming a weird vacation spot for Europeans.

So I asked how this would work, and he noted that he'd talked to some Albanian lawyer guy who would set up complete fake residence, and use some insider info to obtain residence/citizenship.  Cost?  Oh, well....that was in the $20,000 range.  I doubt if the country tax revenue folks got more than half of that, and the lawyer was getting a fair sum of the money.  The thing was....you'd have to pay a bit to the country each year as some fee.  It reminded me of some mafia tax situation.

My associate did leave the service a year or so later, and did get into the private business situation within Europe.  I assume he still holds both the Albanian and US passports today.

I'm not much of a supporter of the dual-citizenship thing.  There's always some angle to it.  You do it for business reasons or ease-of-entry reasons typically.

I noticed in German news today, which got hyped up.....that from the Trump-seven countries on the current ban list....some ARD journalists had done some minor research and gotten the government to note that there are 130,000 German dual-citizens from Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Suden, and Syria.  The bulk?  Mostly from Iran for some odd reason.

The ARD slant on this?  Well, these are German Bundestag members, political figures, cultural types, journalists, etc.  Then they went on to say they'd contacted the US embassy in Berlin and wanted to discuss this.  Well....the embassy said no....mostly because they don't have any information to really work with and no one from the State Department in the US had given enough data to bring facts to the table.  Besides, as they noted from the embassy....the ban ends in 90 days.

Oddly, the article by the same ARD folks....did not mention that such bans occurred during the Obama period.

The thing is, if you really dig down into this....you can have dual, tri, quad, quinque (5), sexa (6), septi (7), octo (8), novem (9), and decem (10) citizenship.  A multi-multi-multi citizen?  Yes.

You could be a US-Canadian-Cuban-Albanian-Finn-Scot-German.  Why you'd want these various other citizenships?  It's beyond me.  In most cases, you wouldn't even have to speak the native language (you no longer have to speak English in America for example).

How to make this possible....that we could all have these neat multiple identity situations?  Well, it's not really a simple process.

It should be like my associate and his entry into Albania....you pay some fee under the table, and get a residence-citizen card.  Germany should make this simple and have a 3,000 Euro fee (year by year of course) and hand out its citizenship to anyone who wants it.  Same for France, and the US.  Just charge people some yearly fee to be a multi-citizen.  One form, a quick background check, and cash....make it that simple.

How many Germans hold dual citizenship, period (to include Russia, Greece, Turkey, etc)?  Unknown.  It's a relatively new topic, since it was approved officially in 2014.  Before that?  You might have carried the second citizenship on the side and just not said anything.  Folks now kinda proudly admit their second citizenship....as some special part of their life or culture.  I would take a guess that roughly two million Germans now have some form of citizenship that goes past the German citizenship.

The history side of this?  Well, this is kinda of interesting.  If you remember this 200-odd piece Germanic land that existed in 1800....most folks held citizenship in their particular region.  A guy in the Wiesbaden area would have been a Nassau-Hessen citizen.  A guy from Bavaria, would have been a Bavarian....not necessarily a Prussian, as you would think.

All this came to a dramatic end in 1913.  In the summer of 1913....almost exactly a year prior to WW I.....the Bundestag came to an agreement that German citizenship would exist, and these different nationalities from the states would come to a lesser stage (existing but just a informal stage).  They simply blessed everyone off, and they quietly became Germans.

It was NOT until 1934, that these state citizenships were entirely disassembled by the Berlin authority (the Nazis).  So for 21 years....some functions of Bavarian and Nassau-Hessen citizenship continued on.

The odd part of this whole story?  Hitler.  You see....from birth to 1932....Hitler was an Austrian.  To move up and become Chancellor....he needed German citizenship.  So this Bavarian state rule existed (for many decades prior to Hitler). If you held a police position (even for one day) in Bavaria as a foreign citizen, then you could be brought in and made a Bavarian citizen....thus automatically getting German citizenship.  Oddly, it took less than two years after Hitler citizenship moment occurred to close off this Hitler-Bavaria doorway.     No one ever tells the story of how or why the doorway closed, which might be an interesting history story.

The odds of some present-day dual citizen in Germany arriving and becoming Chancellor in the next twenty years?  Three years ago, I would have laughed and said zero chance.  Today, I'd say it's more likely to be a twenty-percent chance of occurring.  It's very possible in twenty years to see some Turk-German, Iranian-German, or perhaps even some Austrian-German (going along that Hitler path of 1932) as Chancellor.  Some might even say that's it's a positive thing....a multi-German in a multi-world.

If you told this entire story to the typical working-class German, they'd probably grind their teeth a bit and ask for a second beer.

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