Sunday, October 17, 2010

Comment on Faust Wertz, Facebook |
Voting while not a citizen, and you may be a redneck

Facebook | Voting while not a citizen, and you may be a redneck

The only thing I will argue with here is your assumption, probably based on something a lawyer planted with the NY Times in order to build some kind of mitigating case, that the law is "not made clear to every immigrant." If someone comes in legally they have to go through many hoops and the very formality and complexity of the process means that they have to review their status and legal limits at multiple stages. It is simply inconceivable that any Lawful Permanent Resident could argue that they did not know. Not only can illegal voting get them deported but it is grounds for an automatic "permanent bar" on ever being permitted to reenter the United States.

By the way another ground for the "permanent bar" on reentry is moving abroad and renouncing your citizenship to avoid paying taxes. All those celebrities who announced that they were leaving the country and would refuse to pay to support Bush's war were blowing smoke and probably knew it. Their agents and lawyers had to explain to them that if they had gotten on that plane and then formally carried out their threat after making a dramatic statement it could have made them unemployable.

Practically the system makes it very difficult to renounce US citizenship. You have to go into the US Embassy in another country and fill out a formal document that leaves nothing to the imagination. Issuing a press release won't do it, and wont avoid a tax liability. If the IRS thinks that you moved for purposes of evasion then they can get ugly. If it was easy to prove someone had renounced their citizenship then expatriate critics like Gore Vidal would have trouble getting back in.

The American citizens who have joined al-Qaeda or the Taliban cannot claim that they renounced their citizenship when they left the country. If they were a US citizen when they got on the airplane at JFK to go to Pakistan then they committed treason when they took up arms against the United States or gave the enemy material aid and comfort. They are still entitled to the protection of the US Constitution even while they wage war against it. For that reason I do not believe that the President should have the right to order the assassination of these people. If they die on the battlefield in the normal course of war that is the risk the ran but a planned elimination of that person by use of a targeted Hellfire missile should be prohibited. Of course if we target everyone standing next to them and they get caught in the event, those are the fortunes of war.

There is a provision in the law for the Secretary of State to inform the the Attorney General that someone has taken an oath of allegiance to a foreign power, such as by joining the military or voting in a foreign election. That can result in a petition to the federal courts to have citizenship revoked. Taking an oath of loyalty to Osama bin-Laden or joining the Taliban could lead to that but it is the choice of the US government as to whether they pursue that option. It would be my preference that they do have that judicial process and then hunt these people with drones. Of course we would have to invite the person to surrender to US custody and come back to fight the case in court. That does not mean that I think that unlawful combatants held at GITMO should receive civilian trials. The proving of treason or the revocation of citizenship, it would be the government's choice which route to pursue, is a special case.

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