March 7, 2013

The March 4 front-page article “On road to citizenship, many stop short” referred to various reasons why permanent residents do not apply for U.S. citizenship. The article emphasized that Washington’s latest interest in easing the path to citizenship should result in more green-card holders finalizing their citizenship applications.

As this apparent “easing” is taking place, it is curious to note that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has just concluded its comment period on a citizenship application form that more than doubles the size of the current one (from 10 to 21 pages). The proposed form asks additional questions about former spouses, which could unnecessarily increase the anxiety of applicants and therefore their reluctance to apply, and it retains some questionable, dated inquiries about the applicant’s past, such as affiliations with the Nazi Party from 1945 and before.

As we strive to ensure our newest citizens are individuals of good moral character, a better-safe-than-sorry approach may seem to make sense. But in light of many Democratic and Republican efforts to reduce the burdens of becoming permanent residents and citizens, the administration’s overseer of the process seems to be moving in the opposite direction.

Jim Kabel, Vienna

The Post’s article on citizenship noted that “In addition, more countries now allow dual nationality, so more people can become Americans without giving up rights in their country of birth.”

The first line of the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America that all immigrants take upon being granted U.S. citizenship is quite clear: “I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen.”

Citizenship is sacred and brings with it responsibilities as well as rights, some of which are specified further in the oath. For immigrants to maintain their citizen “rights in their country of birth” does seem to violate their oath to their new country. Fidelity to two countries is akin to bigamy. U.S. citizens should swear loyalty to only one country: the United States of America.

David F. Rogus, Vienna