In January, Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo is expected to sign into law changes to his country's constitution that would allow Mexican nationals to retain their citizenship even if they become naturalized Americans.
Although the change could take at least a year, it has already prompted a debate in the United States about dual citizenship. In theory, new citizens renounce all previous allegiances when they are sworn in, but this is not required by law. Currently, Americans can retain dual citizenship as long as their former countries allow it.
However, at least one immigration reform group wants to see the federal government require new citizens to formally break their ties to their native country, negating the Mexican government's plans.
Should dual citizenship be allowed?
Julian Nava, Cal State Northridge history professor and former ambassador to Mexico
"My own view as a historian is that a development like this is inevitable and is indeed prompted in part by a rational assessment of the implications of NAFTA. . . . It would be one way of bringing resident aliens closer into American society where they are already raising children and paying taxes. . . . The motive is to encourage Mexicans living in the United States to send financial support to families in Mexico and also serves to encourage them to become American citizens and give their first loyalty to the United States. . . . Next to petroleum, the money sent back to Mexico by Mexican workers in the United States is the largest source of money in Mexico."
Ira Mehlman, California media director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform
"We have to start thinking about whether it is in our national interest to have people who maintain divided allegiances. . . . The Founding Fathers, when they first founded this nation, talked about pledging their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor . . . and that's really what a nation is about. . . . Do we really want people who want to make a commitment solely because there is a government benefit for them? . . . You can't be sort of American. You have to say at one point, 'This is who I am.' "
Ron Tasoff, Encino immigration lawyer
"People should have the right to vote and determine their political future in the land they are legally residing in. . . . These are people who have been here for a long time . . . and now they have chosen to become U.S. citizens. . . . I believe for anybody who lives in this country . . . if you're a good person, an honest person, and comply with the law, [you] should be U.S. citizens and not give a damn about what a foreign country does."
Glenn Spencer, president of Voice of Citizens Together of Sherman Oaks
"What we need to do is to halt the process of naturalization until this can be investigated. . . . It shows that No. 1, their primary allegiance would not be with the United States. . . . One must look at the action by the Mexican government as designed to defeat the attempt by Americans to protect its borders and prevent illegal immigration. In my judgment this is an act of war by Mexico."
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