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Author's Citizenship

March 02, 1986

The Times carried an article on Jan. 29 about Margaret Randall, the lady who relinquished her citizenship almost two decades ago, and is now suing to get it back ("Author Is a 'Woman Without a Country' " by Elizabeth Mehren). Randall has support from such respected writers as Norman Mailer and Arthur Miller, as well as other colleagues and students at the University of New Mexico, where she teaches.

Hogwash. Margaret Randall was 31 years old when she made the deliberate decision to relinquish her American citizenship. The business about identifying her with a beatnik generation and anti-government sentiment of that era is a pure smoke screen. She deliberately chose Mexican citizenship over that of the United States.

The Times quoted an Immigration and Naturalization Service representative as saying: "The thing people have a hard time understanding is that nobody took her citizenship away from her. She gave it up." That is the key. Her actions were voluntary and those of a mature individual.

The United States does not need, or deserve, fair-weather friends who care so little that they change their nationality to suit their own convenience. There are plenty of fine individuals who would make almost any sacrifice to gain entry to this country, with the right to earn their citizenship.

We do not need people who care so little for their own society that they will put their citizenship away when it does not suit a trend in fashion, then want it back again when the fashions change.

Randall made her decision. Let her live with it. Give a more deserving person--and that could be almost anyone--the chance that she threw away.


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