Moving Back to Jamaica

A blog about my Move Back to Jamaica after 20+ years of living in the US. Most of the articles focus on the period from 2005-2009 when the transition was new, and at it's most challenging.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Change of Mind on Dual Citizenship

I have been carefully reading the comments made to my "Bad Mind?" post and in a conversation with Kim-Marie Spence who heads up CAPRI - the Caribbean Policy Research Institute -- a light-bulb went off.

She gave me a realistic example that stopped me in my tracks.

"What would Daryl Vaz do if he had to visit Cuba on state business?"

"Oh-Oh, I said. That would be a problem."

By serving Jamaica's best interests he could be forced to choose between breaking US law, and doing what's right for us, Jamaicans.

Oh dear.

He actually could face arrest if he visited the USA as a private citizen.

Also, right at this moment, he could get a call from the US about his taxes, and the IRS could decide to launch an audit of his finances at any time.

Hmmm... while the odds of him being called up to fight in Iraq are slim to nothing, IRS audits and other government organizations are been used to harass Americans who the government have found to be
out of favour.

Also, what would happen if took up the charge to champion Cuba-Jamaican relationships, only to receive a nice call one day from the U.S. Ambassador asking to meet with him. She might have nothing in mind other than a courtesy call, but he might attend the meeting with the thought that the recent letter from the IRS might be a response to his Cuban activities, and that she is here to "help make the point."

Poor Daryl. Or more to the point, poor Jamaica.

Some think that a compromise is in order, and that dual citizens should not be in cabinet, and can serve as MP's. (Why the Governor General is exempt from these requirements is beyond me... the post of Director of Elections certainly seems to be one that would actually benefit from having someone who is a foreigner, but that's another matter.)

I do stand by my belief that Jamaica would benefit greatly from those who have a foreign perspective, but in today's geo-politicalworld, they just cannot effectively occupy the pivotal, decision-making roles. Instead, they can serve in other positions, and this should be made clear to all Jamaicans in the diaspora.

"No," you cannot be Prime Minister, MP, Senator, etc. without renouncing other citizenship, but "Yes," you can be any of the following positions.... <>

The upcoming Diaspora Conference in June is sure to address some of these issue, for those who are interested.

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At 5/19/2008 7:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just some food for thought: In the 1970s my husband and I were recruited by the Jamaican Government. My husband became the Personal Assistant to the Min. of Health and accompanied the Minister to Cuba. From Cuba my husband sent postcards to his relatives in the U.S.A. Within days, the Secret Service paid a vist to all recipients of those postcards. When the CIA was satisfied that there was no threat to National Security, no further action was taken. When I inquired about it, the U.S. govt advised me that it was just a precautionary measure & since my husband was on "official business" for the Jamaican Govt, there was no further concern. He also returned to the U.S. with no problem. In fact, he lives in Florida today. Think about how many U.S citizens are living/working outside of the USA.
Remember also, that anyone born of another Country can run for any political office in the U.S. EXCEPT for the Presidency (must be a Natural born citizen). (uumm! Does this mean that Eddie Seaga can run for the Presidency of the United States?) Many Jamaicans, having dual citizenship, are in polictical office in America. My current husband, an American asked me this confounded question: "So, now that Jamaica has forced Mr. Vaz to renounce his U.S. citizenship, now what?" "Is Jamaica any better off or is it in the same position before Vaz was a dual citizen?" Renouncing is purely a "symbolic gesture" and for all intents and purposes, means not one doggone thing. IN FACT, WOULDN'T ANY JAMAICAN POLITICIAN BE IN A BETTER POSITION TO RUN LEF' JAMAICA THAN THE COMMON MAN IF EVER ANARCHY OR COMMUNISM TAKES HOLD OF THE ISLAND?
I am attaching the positon that the U.S. Govt has taken in regard to Dual Citizenship and "renouncing" allegiance to another Country. Taken from the U.S. Citizen Library:
Most citizenship oaths [to other countries] are historical and have little legal power. The US State Department's position is: The Department has a uniform administrative standard of evidence based on the premise that US citizens intend to retain United States citizenship when they obtain naturalization in a foreign state, subscribe to routine declarations of allegiance to a foreign state, or accept non-policy level employment with a foreign government. [And even with this last statement], here is the U.S. policy:
Many other countries do not recognize the act of renouncing their citizenship as part of US naturalization, so a new US citizen may very likely still be considered a citizen by his old country. This is apparently a big reason why the State Department decided (in 1990) not to go after people any more, as a rule, when they continue to let their old country treat them as a citizen despite US naturalization.
Re: taxation:
In practice, such situations are often smoothed over via tax treaties and the like, but conflicts could (and sometimes do) occur. Also, be aware that most countries (the US is the main exception) base liability for income tax on residence (where one lives) and/or source of income, not solely on citizenship; thus, dual citizenship usually does not automatically translate into double taxation.


At 5/20/2008 5:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I cannot understand is this. Is the law not clear to these people? Also anonymous: Your husband wasn't the minister. He was merely a government employee! BIG DIFFERENCE! I don't know what there is this everlasting debate about "the constitution should be broken for the sake of convenience". If people want to lobby for change then fine....but as I read somewhere on another blog....was part of the deal of migration and returning a guaranteed position in Government? I mean seriously, there are other ways to serve your country and becoming an MP is just ONE of them.

Every now and again the Japanese government offers an opportunity for Jamaicans to go to Japan and teach English. If there age range requirement is 25-35 and I am 40, should I now start a campaign against them to say they are damn stupid and I am only 5 years older so they could fit me in? Come on! I don't know what it is about Jamaicans who live or who have lived abroad that makes them feel more superior to Jamaicans. Or what is it about you people that makes you feel that you are way more qualified than us who live here....not to mention this sense of feel that you MUST get a job as a senior government offical! Give me and the rest of the country a break!


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