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!
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.