American Republican party presidential nomination candidate Donald Trump says that if he were elected president, he would repeal the guarantee of American citizenship for anyone who is born in our country. Even the right has mixed opinions about this, and certainly the left is opposed–citizenship for anyone born here is a national absolute, enshrined in the Constitution. Dual citizenship is a bit more complicated; becoming an American citizen involves renouncing allegiance to any other country, but the United Kingdom does not recognize this as a way to lose UK citizenship. You can lose your American citizenship for committing certain acts involving allegiance to another government, but they have to be committed with the intention to relinquish US nationality–see the link in the caption to the screen shot from the State Department web page on the subject. American Republican party presidential nomination candidate Ted Cruz held dual Canadian-American citizenship until 2014, even while serving in the Senate.
Related issues have come up in France since the 13 November attacks. Of course, this brings Zipf’s Law into our lives. The word of the day in France is déchéance. It was all over the news this morning, and is going crazy on Twitter. This word has a number of meanings, but the one that’s relevant here is “loss” or “forfeiture,” as in déchéance de nationalité, or loss of citizenship. Three days after the murder of 130 people by Islamic State terrorists, Hollande announced that terrorists or people acting contrary to French values with dual citizenship would be stripped of their French citizenship, even if they were born here. It’s back in the news because Hollande has backed off on the idea–it quickly became clear that there would be no agreement about this abrogation of rights (which would require a change to the French constitution), and it was seen as an “ideological gift” to the far-right National Front party. In the name of national unity, the idea has been officially dropped.
Here is WordReference.com’s discussion of the word:
- la déchéance: (physical or moral) decline, degredation, degeneration.
- la déchéance: (loss of rights) loss, forfeiture.
Interestingly, the concept also brings Zipf’s Law into our lives with respect to English, unless your vocabulary is a hell of a lot better than mine. In particular, we meet the verb to expatriate, which Merriam-Webster defines as “banish, exile” (transitive); “to withdraw (oneself) from residence in or allegiance to one’s native country” (transitive); “to leave one’s native country to live elsewhere; also : to renounce allegiance to one’s native country” (intransitive).