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Posts Tagged ‘dual and multi citizenship

Natural Born Citizen — Chapter 8: Dual and Multi Citizenship

Dual and multi citizenship and their relation to natural born citizenship

If a person who is born with dual or multi citizenship can also be a natural born citizen, how does that circumstance potentially jeopardize our Constitutional Republic?  First let’s address the issue of dual and multi citizenship.  In Chapter 7, we discovered that according to Barack Obama’s own campaign website Fight the Smears, Barack Obama possessed dual citizenship upon his birth.  As was noted, his Father was bound by the British Nationality Act of 1948, and as a result, Barack Obama was also bound by that Act as well.  So what does the British Nationality Act of 1948 state regarding the citizenship Barack Obama inherited at birth?  Part II, Section 5 of the British Nationality Act of 1948 states:

Subject to the provisions of this section, a person born after the commencement of this Act shall be a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by descent if his father is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies at the time of the birth.[i]

That would appear fairly straightforward and would thereby make Barack Obama a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies.  But the Act goes on to discuss provisions thereafter that affect the above quoted passage.  The provisions in this portion of the passage discuss ways in which citizenship would not be acquired under this section of the Act, but may be obtained in another Section within the Act.  In reviewing the provisions none would have excluded Barack Obama under Part II, Section 5.  It would appear that in accordance with Part II, Section 5 of the British Nationality Act of 1948, Barack Obama at the time of his birth did in fact hold citizenship in the United Kingdom.

In Part II, Section 19 of the Act, renunciation of citizenship is allowed as follows:

(1) If any citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies of full age and capacity who is also— 

(a) a citizen of any country mentioned in subsection (3) of section one of this Act or of Eire; or

(b) a national of a foreign country,

makes a declaration in the prescribed manner of renunciation of citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies, the Secretary of State shall cause the declaration to be registered; and, upon the registration, that person shall cease to be a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies:

Provided that the Secretary of State may withhold registration of any such declaration if it is made during any war in which His Majesty may be engaged by a person who is a national of a foreign country.[ii]

Do we have any evidence that Barack Obama renounced his British Citizenship?  In his FactCheck.org reference, he claimed his Kenyan citizenship had expired.  Why is there no mention of his British citizenship?  The answer may lie in the fact that in 1963, two years after Barack Obama’s birth, Kenya gained its independence from Great Britain.  At that time, both Barack Obama Sr. and Barack Obama became Kenyan citizens.  Their citizenship was defined in the 1963 Kenyan Constitution in Chapter 6, Section 87 as follows:

Persons who became citizens on 12th December, 1963

1. Every person who, having been born in Kenya, is on llth December. 1963 a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies or a British protected person shall become a citizen of Kenya on 12th December, 1963:

Provided that a person shall not become a citizen of Kenya by virtue of this subsection if neither of his parents was born in Kenya.

2. Every person who, having been born outside Kenya. is on llth December, 1963 a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies or a British protected person shall. if his father becomes. or would but for his death have become, a citizen of Kenya by virtue of subsection (1). become a citizen of Kenya on 12th December. 1963.[iii]

In accordance with Section 87, Subsection (1), Barack Obama Sr. became a Kenyan Citizen on December 12, 1963.  In accordance with Section 87, Subsection (2), Barack Obama became a Kenyan Citizen on December 12. 1963. 

At the time of gaining Kenyan citizenship, what became of the British citizenship of Barack Obama Sr. and Barack Obama?  The British Nationality Act has been updated numerous times since Kenya became a sovereign country in 1963.  In my research, I have not found anywhere in the Kenyan Constitution information regarding British citizenship.  Neither have I found in the subsequent Amendments to the British Nationality Act of 1948 any language discussing the loss of British citizenship by virtue of Kenya becoming a sovereign country.  On the face of it, I would assume the citizenship was transferred from British citizenship to Kenyan citizenship; therefore, Barack Obama was no longer a British citizen; however, I have no documentation to prove this assumption.  And it is also possible that Barack Obama’s British citizenship remains intact today, and if that is case, such a condition would seem to be a significant issue for a man currently occupying the White House.

For the purposes of our discussion, although it is important what became of Barack Obama’s British citizenship, what is more important is that at the time of his birth he held dual citizenship as both a U.S. citizen and a British citizen.  In our discussion, it is important what the founders when writing the Constitution would have thought about this dual citizenship with respect to the natural born citizen clause of Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution.  My first impression is that the founders would unequivocally have a problem with multi citizenship at birth.  I say that because it seems unfathomable to me that a person whom holds citizenship in another country based on that country’s laws possesses sole allegiance to the nation where he was born.  As such, I can’t imagine how that same person could be considered a natural born citizen and eligible to the Presidency.  In the next chapter, we will look at what the founders may have thought of this condition when we discuss allegiance.


[i] The British Nationality Act of 1948 — http://www.uniset.ca/naty/BNA1948.htm

[ii] British Nationality Act of 1948 — http://www.uniset.ca/naty/BNA1948.htm

[iii] Kenyan Constitution Chapter 6, Section 87 — http://kenya.rcbowen.com/constitution/chap6.html#87

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Written by KJ Kaufman

August 26, 2009 at 7:22 pm