On Dual Citizenship

Much has happened in my country since I was born in 1942; not all of it for the better.

Once upon a time, a President spoke of what it meant to be “free.”  ”

Towards the end of World War II, in his 1944 State of the Union address, FDR declared that the original Bill of Rights had: “proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness” as the country had grown and the industrial economy expanded over the previous century:

“We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made. In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all — regardless of station, race, or creed.”

Roosevelt went on to list his economic bill of rights: the right to a “useful and remunerative job,” the right to “adequate medical care,” the right to “adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment,” the right to “a good education,” and the right to “earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation.”

This was a modern conception of freedom responding to the challenges of the 20th century — one that acknowledged America’s transformation over the previous 150 years from an agrarian nation of small, propertied farmers (that is, small capitalists) into an industrial and increasingly urban country of wage earners; wage earners who were completely at the mercy of unfettered capitalism.

“Since Roosevelt gave his “second Bill of Rights” speech more than 70 years ago, the language of liberty has been co-opted by those on the far right who have propounded their own narrow and negative definition of freedom — one that largely ignores the past 200 years of economic and social development. Essentially, Republicans are advocating a Gilded Age variety of freedom, one that grants freedom to the rich but serfdom for everybody else. If the Freedom Caucus were to put forward its own economic bill of rights today, it might include a corporation’s “freedom” to pollute and destroy the environment,  pay subsistence wages and to deny someone health care coverage, while poor and working-class Americans would be granted the freedom to starve or the freedom to die from untreated illness when they cannot afford medical care.”

Now these folks haven’t been exactly hiding out all of these years of my life.  I was 17 years old when I was approached by members of the John Birch Society in the bank where I worked, talking to me about joining their movement and handing me literature.  I read it closely, particularly those sections calling President Eisenhower an agent of the Communists (Ike gave the commies China don’t you know) and attacking black civil rights demonstrators as commies as well.  Seems everyone was a commie in their eyes.

Truman too, for relieving that American Caesar, Douglas MacArthur from command.  After all, he was ready to cross the Yalu and take on Mao’s commies.

The right HATED John Kennedy who was warned of the danger of going to Dallas.

So these folks have always been around; the difference is now they are in power, dripping with a disconcerting air of authoritarianism and  insipient fascism.  Who knows what the future holds.

And being an amateur student of history I am aware of those people who had no where else to go when things got really bad and of those who had the foresight to prepare for the worst and for the safety of themselves and their families.

And so I have been thinking of obtaining dual citizenship.

I am eligible to claim dual Italian citizenship under Italian law (and the E.U passport that comes with it)  “by blood.”  Not that it is easy or inexpensive to do – but I am eligible.

My paternal grandparents were both born in Toritto, Italy. married there and came to the United States in 1907. Neither ever became U.S. citizens which would have required renouncing their Italian citizenship.

My father was born in New York City in 1917.  He acquired American citizenship by birth and was not required to renounce Italian citizenship to do so.  When he was born both of his parents were Italian citizens living in the United States.

Because of this heritage and circumstance I am recognized by Italian law to claim dual Italian – U.S. citizenship – if I am willing to jump through the hoops required and spend the necessary funds for legal, documentation and translation services.

I happen to have lots of documents relating to our family. I have my grandparent’s birth certificates and marriage certificate issued in Italy.  I have my parent’s and my own.

None of these are any good for a dual citizenship project.  I think I knew this.  I confirmed my suspicions by talking to legal counsel in Chicago specializing in dual Italian-American citizenship issues this week.  These guys knew their stuff and have staff located in Italy.

First, my Italian documents are in the “short form.”  The birth certificates confirm the birth in Italian records of my grandparents but do not mention the names of their parents.  This information is available only on the “long form.”  The long form is necessary to confirm that their parents were Italian citizens.  Strike one.  These documents can be readily obtained by the Chicago firm quickly and efficiently – for $150 each.

All of my U.S issued documents, my grandfather’s death certificate, my parent’s birth, marriage and death certificates, my birth,  marriage and my wife’s death certificate all must bear the “apostile.”  They don’t.

The Hague Convention of the 1960s specifies the modalities through which a document issued in one of the signatory countries can be certified for legal purposes in all the other signatory states. Such a certification is called an apostile.  All of my American documents relating to my family must bear the apostile stamp attachment in order to be recognized as legal, true and certified documents in Italy.

All of my U.S. documents were issued by the Department of Health in New York City.  The apostile is added by the Secretary of State of the state of New York.  This requires that all documents be re-issued by New York City and sent to Albany for the addition of the apostile, which cannot be added to documents already in my possession.  Strike two.  My Chicago lawyers can, of course, do all this for me and do it a lot faster than I could do it.

Also required by Italian authorities is evidence that my grandfather never became a U.S. citizen; that is that he never renounced his Italian citizenship and that he was still a citizen of Italy when my father was born.

Immigration and Naturalization Services used to perform a naturalization search to determine whether or not someone ever became a citizen.  Now it is done by Homeland Security.  I started this search once but never got a “No Record” letter; I gave up when I received an initial determination of “no record” but gave up when I was asked for my grandfather’s death certificate.  I became rude and pointed out to the bureaucrat at the other end that my grandfather would have been 124 years old at the time and that the government could safely assume he was dead.

Of course the “No Record” letter must also bear the apostile of the State Department of the United States.

Proving a negative is of course difficult.  In support of grandpa’s status as an Italian, certain Consulates want a census report from say 1930 or 1940 indicating alien status rather than the dreaded “NA” – naturalized.  Ancestry.com is a source for this one.

Finally the application to the Italian authorities needs to be prepared and here translation services are required; it will all be in Italian.  Here again, Chicago can do all of this.

After the application is finalized in proper form I am to make an appointment with the Italian Consulate in Miami, which could take months.  I am to appear in person and present my documentation and aplication.  Six months later I will be advised whether or not I have been registered as an Italian citizen.  There is no need for me to take any pledge or renounce my American citizenship.

Then I can apply for a passport.  I would imagine the whole process would take between one and two years.  On the other hand one must live a minimum of ten years in Italy in order to be considered for naturalization.

I will probably prepare a complete list of what I understand needs to be done, present it to Counsel and ask for a price quote – and a schedule for payments.

Oh Toritto you’re being hysterical!

Maybe not.

Too many people during my lifetime had no where else to go but the camps when the knock came on the door.  This is probably the last thing of value I can leave my family – a place to go if the going ever becomes necessary.



About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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7 Responses to On Dual Citizenship

  1. Lara/Trace says:

    I feel your need, Frank. I have a fake birth certificate at my age – someday it could hurt me – I had no choice in the matter when I was born to be handed to strangers. I hope you get this dual citizenship. I really do. Wish it didn’t cost so much time and money.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. beetleypete says:

    I am speculating (maybe erroneously) that you have the funds, and the time, to make this happen, Frank
    If so, I would urge you to go through with it. You are undoubtedly unhappy as an ‘American’ at the moment. Maybe a quiet retirement in Toritto would suit you nicely. The kids can holiday there on the cheap, and you would be away from many stresses. (Though subject to new ones of course.)
    I have no such option. I am more or less happy to be English, and will continue to state my case in troubled times. For you, it might be time for Limoncello, Grappa and cigars. reflection, and contentment. I will come and see you there, for sure. Easy flight from the UK.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. toritto says:

    Hi Pete – It’s not for me I am thinking about this. I’m too old to move to Italy. Besides I would miss everyone. It’s for children and Clark. If I take Italian citizenship my daughters would have no trouble doing the same – without the hoops I have to jump through. Who knows what will be when Clark is 20?

    PS = will my EU passport be grandfathered if I get it before Brexit??


    Best from Florida

    Liked by 1 person

  4. DesertAbba says:

    Like Pete, I am more or less happy to be American, but still I do wish I had an option.That my only daughter married into and has been accepted without demur by the family of her Italian/American (3rd generation) husband and my grandchildren are living in the 100 Acre Wood under the name of SCHIAVONE probably won’t get me into the Italian consulate, so I’ll just hang on here and hope by the time I want to use it, my American passport is recognized by civilized Nations certifying my nationality as legitimately from a similarly civilized Nation. Since I don’t have the funds anyhow for a dual citizenship venture, I’ll hang onto the hope that we won’t remain so uncivilized for longer than it took to find Nixon the crook that he was and our 45th POTUS will similarly board a plane like Nixon and be gone.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. wfdec says:

    I don’t think it is necessary to be unhappy with being an American to want to take up Italian Citizenship. To me it sounds like a wonderful way of celebrating some of the things about America that deserve celebration. As an Australian with Danish heritage I think it would be good to be able to claim one without having to renounce the other.

    Liked by 1 person

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