viernes, 1 de abril de 2011

Residency vs. Citizenship

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.


11 comentarios :

Rebecca dijo...

I have no desire to ever pursue citizenship in MX for the exact reasons you stated.

Karen Gomez dijo...
Este comentario ha sido eliminado por el autor.
Karen Gomez dijo...

Wow, that definitely made me think. I was considering getting citizenship but then stopped after I saw Presunto Culpable. I asked myself if I really wanted to belong to a country with that sort of legal system. I am very opinionated about politics and vocal and I thought maybe with dual citizenship I could finally participate...but then I thought about that and decided that my vote wouldn't make an ounce of difference anyway. The only thing Im wondering about now is if something were to happen to my husband would I have problems because I'm not a citizen. I am on my 2nd prorroga with the FM2. I am thinking I'll just wait it out too. I am glad to have seen your post and the issues that could be raised with becoming naturalized.

Karen Gomez dijo...

Oh and I have been sitting on a post about this for over a month now so I guess I you have motivated me to finish it and post it. Not trying to be a copy-cat :)

Anónimo dijo...

We're under the impression that Mexicans who become naturalized citizens in the USA don't neccesarily lose their Mexican citizenship. As there is no apparent Mexican restrictions for Mexicans who become US citizens, theoretically Mexicans naturalized in the US could maintain a Mexican passport and the priveledges thereto attached without question, and if that's the case, who's to know?
There are advantages for Mexicans who wish to retain their Mexican status, and some renounce it as a matter of formality, not patriotically.
Perhaps you or one of your readers could clarify.

Jill dijo...

Anonimo--I've heard that assumption, too, and I've not no evidence to the contrary (that Mexico could revoke one's Mexican citizenship after one becomes a US citizen).

However, I can't say that I really know anyone who's been in that situation, so I basically have no evidence either way. And it is an interesting situation.

And really, for US citizens seeking dual citizenship in Mexico, I don't actually know anyone who has completed the process, either. However, the US being the US (and their wonderful immigration policies) has me a lot more nervous that they'd be much quicker to revoke someone's US citizenship were that citizen to become a naturalized Mexican citizen.

But again, I no of no one who's been in that position, so maybe my fears are baseless.

Karen--yup, I understand that, too. I'm hoping (and fairly confident) that if anything were to happen to my husband my in-laws would be an enormous help in settling any legal what-not that may arise. Furthermore, if my husband were to leave this world, we'd be packing up and heading to the US to be closer to my family. And I'd hate to run the risk of losing my US citizenship (and my right to enter the US) by being naturalized here, in case that situation were to happen. Terrifying.

Rebecca--yup, yup, yup. And point #3 would be the one that Karen brought up, that any Mexican vote I'd be able to cast would just be so futile . . . sometimes it feels that way in the US, but then I hear my husband talking about Mexican politics, I realize that my US vote really does have so much more weight (and could possibly affect Mexico and Mexicans just as much as any vote I could cast as a Mexican . . . Oh, the US and your insane amounts of influence!).

Amanda dijo...

Hey there, you obviously have brought up some very good points. I am one of the ones who plans persue my duel. First I want to say I do know someone who has and when she was investigating the fact of loosing her citizenship the point was brought in that Mexico never shares their citizen info with other countries. So basically the states would not be notified or anything and as long as you hold a current passport your welcome int he consulates and across the border.
The main reason I want mine is not for voting but more because I plan to live here the rest of my life including after I retire. Seeing as I am no longer gaining benefits in the US I want to be gaining them here. Same as in the US the aid given retires isn't much but its something and anything helps. Also I will be allowed the healthcare if ever I'm working and my husband is not for example.
I can totally see why you have chosen as you have and I love that you put that you respect the opinions of those who have chosen citizenship.
This was a great post and a topic I look forward to reading other comments about.

Amanda dijo...

Well I forgot to check to follow via e-mail so here is the comment that will let me do that. ;)

Jill dijo...

Amanda--ooo--the retirement thing is a good point! And what a relief to know that they don't share naturalization information!

Your reasons for pursuing dual citizenship always sounded solid. Good luck with that, and I'm curious to hear how that goes for you!

Jackie dijo...

Jill, great post! After living here for 19 years, I still have my FM3...I don't even want the FM2 because of how they count the days when you leave Mexico and you can't own a car with plates from the States. I know that once a year I need to renew my papers and it's no big deal. My husband always comes with me, so I don't mind.

Stephanie G dijo...

I was considering going for my citizenship here but, now no. Like you said about being guilty until proven innocent is true, I heard on TV the other night from a Police Chief that here in Mexico they don't seek actual justice by finding who did the crime but, they find who is the easiest to blame.