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American citizenship a privilege, not right, says Clinton

American citizenship a privilege, not right, says Clinton
PTI
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First Published: Fri, May 07 2010. 12 37 PM IST
Updated: Fri, May 07 2010. 12 37 PM IST
Washington: US secretary of state Hillary Clinton on Friday indicated that the State Department would look into the possibilities of revoking Times Square bomb suspect Faisal Shahzad’s citizenship under existing laws.
“I understand the desire behind the recommendation from some members of Congress. Clearly, United States citizenship is a privilege. It is not a right,” Clinton said in response about the legislation proposing to revoke the citizenship of US nationals who were members of foreign terrorist organizations.
“People who enter into such citizenship through naturalisation swear to uphold their duties to our Constitution. And people who are serving foreign powers - or in this case, foreign terrorists - are clearly in violation, in my personal opinion, of that oath which they swore when they became citizens. So we’re going to take a hard look at this,” Clinton said.
“With respect to the question about whether or not the citizenship of someone who is involved in terrorism should be revoked, the department has what’s called expatriation authority under statute,” she said.
Clinton said that the State Department would certainly take a “hard look” at the legislation which was earlier exercised in the past.
The proposed legislation, even if it becomes a law, could not be implemented on Shasta as the incident had happened before the law would come into effect.
The US Congress in 1940 had adopted a law to create several categories that the State Department could use to revoke an American citizenship.
As the statute, which has been amended several times, currently stands, it contains seven categories of expatriating acts.
One of those is the, quote, “entering or serving in the armed forces of a foreign state if such armed forces are engaged in hostilities against the United States.”
The existing law, which is 18 USC Section 1481, was upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1980 in a case called Vance vs Terrazzos, Senator Joe Lieberman said at a separate news conference.
“During World War II, this law would have applied to an American citizen who voluntarily joined the German or Japanese armies to fight against our troops in Europe or the Pacific. I believe it would have been evident to all that an American citizen who took up arms against the US during World War II had no interest in being a citizen of our country any longer, and should not be,” he said.
The “unconventional” war against enemies, like foreign terrorist organisations such as Al Qaeda or the Taliban, needed such act as these elements were committed to attack America, the Senator added.
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First Published: Fri, May 07 2010. 12 37 PM IST