Friends I've reconnected with after years of no communication (thanks, facebook!) often ask, once they discover my status as a Mexican resident, whether I'll be pursuing Mexican citizenship.
To which I quickly say, "No way, Jose!"
The perception seems to be that anyone who would immigrate to another country must certainly be immigrating with the end goal of citizenship. After all, don't all immigrants to the US want to be US citizens?
Many do, but far from all.
My husband, for instance. If we were ever to move to the US, which IS acutally part of our grand plan, he has no desire to become a US citizen. He likes the US, would assimilate beautifully to US culture (even here, sometimes I think he makes a better gringo than Mexican), and would no doubt make many positive contributions to US society. But a permanent resident visa is good enough for him.
And, being almost halfway to my permanent resident status in Mexico, that's good enough for me, too. I love living in Mexico. Despite its flaws, I think it's a great place. And while I'm here, I do my best to provide positive contributions to this society. But the US is my country. And it always will be. I have no desire to change that.
However, a number of friends of mine are considering, and some actively pursuing, dual citizenship. I hope this works out well for them. These are people that I like and respect and admire. I'm sure that they've put as much thought (or more) into pursuing dual Mexican/US citizenship as I have with my reasons for being content with residency.
But the idea scares the crap out of me.
I've had it drilled into my head (I'm guessing from George McKinney, my HS government teacher, but it's possible I picked this up elsewhere) that dual citizens are born, not made. My kids are dual citizens. I know a number of adults who are, thanks to having parents from two different countries, or from being born in a country while having parents who are citizens of another. That all makes sense. And I say, "Cheers to you!"
However, an impressive number of adult friends of mine are confident it can work out. A good friend of mine, who is hoping to become a dual citizen, explained that the government, "doesn't like it, but they'll do it [honor dual citizens]." For her sake, I hope that's true. I just can't get over page 7 of my US passport that states, "under certain circumstances, you may lose your US citizenship by performing, voluntarily . . . any of the following acts: 1) being naturalized in a foreign state . . . ". Far too many people die each year in an attempt to reach the United States, with the end goal of becoming a US citizen. Why would I do anything to jeopardize my citizenship that is bought so dearly by so many others?
Furthermore, Clause 14 in my passport does explain this quirk of dual citizens, warning them that "dual nationality may hamper efforts to provide US consular protection to dual citizens in the foreign country of their other nationality." All understandable. When I mentioned this to my friend, she didn't miss a beat, because of course she doesn't plan on ever breaking the law.
Of course not. But what if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time? Growing up in the US, we're used to a legal system that declares all accused of being "innocent until proven guilty." However, in Mexico, those accused of crimes are guilty until proven innocent. And, if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time, that could be real difficult to do. Clearly, neither the US nor Mexico have flawless legal systems. But, after living here for awhile, I'm fairly confident that Mexico's legal system is a bit more corrupt than the US's. Call me crazy--just don't throw me in jail here over it, or I'll probably never get out.
Were that to happen, being in the wrong place at the wrong time and being accused of a crime, I do think it would be some comfort to have just a bit of the massive power that is the United States of America behind me. But if I were a dual citizen, the US wouldn't be able to do much for me. And that scares the bejeebies out of me.
To those pursuing dual citizenship, I wish you the best of luck, and from the bottom of my heart I hope it works out for all of you.
For my part, I'm content with mere residency. Here's hoping that in another 3 years I'll be finally finished with my yearly trips to the Immigration Office, handing over a hefty wad of cash in exchange for the chance to live here for another year. In 3 years, I'll have paid my dues, get my permanent resident card, and (provided that I don't spend more than 6 months abroad) be good to go.
While I think she's great, I can't say that I'll miss the World's Cutest Immigration Officer too terribly much. Or, who knows? After 3 more yearly dates with her, maybe we'll be on such terms that we'll go out and celebrate my permanent residency with a beer once she gets off of work.