5.28.2008

Boris is American

I was not thrilled Boris Johnson was elected Mayor of London. I didn't like Ken - I just thought that we could find someone better, perhaps? Boris seems to have been thrilled to hold three jobs in the past, none of which he was competent at. Partly my dislike is due to meeting him, partly it's due to a really extremely stupid article he wrote for the Spectator about his US citizenship.

That’s it, Uncle Sam - The Spectator:
Boris Johnson says he is renouncing his US citizenship — acquired as a result of his being born in New York — because of the idiotic and aggressive behaviour of US immigration (continue reading)

I do understand that some people feel compelled to give up US citizenship - for example investment bankers in London, who want to go on and on about liberal causes, but not pay the taxes .... But an article in the Spectator, as august a publication as it is, is not the correct way to renounce citizenship. Boris is, in my humble opinion, a buffoon, and if he doesn't want to be American, I have no objection to him renouncing his citizenship - there are enough people in the world who do want to be US citizens, so I suspect we won't feel his loss.

Johnson wrote about being turned back from "boarding a flight to Mexico, via Houston, Texas" and this was the cause of his ire towards the US - they wouldn't bend a few federal laws for him. We are always clearly told that US citizens have to travel on an American passport to enter the United States, and airlines send email reminders. The main Immigration and Nationality Act, and all revisions, can be found on the web.

Johnson insisted in the article that "I am a loyal subject of Her Majesty, speak in an English accent, and for years I have travelled exclusively on a British passport. But my first passport was green" - old US passports were green.
So, he wrote: "I make this formal, public, and, I hope, legally valid renunciation" of US citizenship, "I hereby renounce my birthright. Strike me off the list."
Umm ... no. You need to properly fill in lots of forms, and go to the Embassy - with a lawyer, to make sure you're not doing this on a drunken whim (see (a) (5) here; and this).

I was however curious to know whether or not Johnson had in fact given up his US passport or not, so I put in a Freedom of Information request to the Mayor of London's office. My first request bounced back. So I rang, and was given another email to use.
The question was simple - is Boris still American, and if not, when and how did he renounce his citizenship?

I just received this reply: "In response to your question I can confirm that the Mayor is still a US citizen, along with being a British Citizen."

That's interesting. The IRS stuff we needn't worry about. The US and UK have an agreement to prevent dual taxing, and anyone who pleads poverty and cannot afford a house in their constituency, must surely fall within under the threshold.
Forget the tax question, Boris is a US citizen working for and lobbying on behalf of a 'foreign' government (Britain - unless he plans to claim that he's not working for the British people, which wouldn't surprise me coming from a politician ...). You see there are a variety of laws governing US dual citizenship, and although I've spoken to a few lawyers in DC, no-one is quite sure how this would affect Boris next time he sets foot on US soil. I suspect he's not aware of a few minor things called Laws ...

The 14th Amendment states that: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.
Boris Johnson MP was born in New York City, so he was born American ius soli - and he can in theory be President. Obviously he'd first need to complete the residency requirements (the Founding Fathers didn't want Alexander Hamilton to be president, so they came up with some funny rules). And hopefully Boris' megalomania doesn't extend that far ...

There are still many ways in which one can lose US citizenship if one wants to: for example Sec. 349. [8 U.S.C. 1481] (a) (2) : taking an oath or making an affirmation or other formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof, after having attained the age of eighteen years. I'm pretty sure this means that one couldn't stand for office in the UK and hold US citizenship? Doesn't one swear an oath on being elected Mayor?

Also important is: Sec. 349. [8 U.S.C. 1481] (a) (4)(A) accepting, serving in, or performing the duties of any office, post, or employment under the government of a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof, after attaining the age of eighteen years if he has or acquires the nationality of such foreign state.
Until recently curatorial posts were civil service positions within the British Museum, so one couldn't even apply for a job there.

Pub.L. 99-653 clarifies that loss of citizenship can only be enforced by the US government if the potentially expatriating acts are voluntary. Trying to get elected an MP, standing for election as Mayor of London ... was Boris forced to do these? For anyone who doesn't want to plough through the relevant laws, the US State Department has handy guides: Possible Loss of U.S. Citizenship and Dual Nationality; and Advice about possible loss of U.S. citizenship and seeking public office in a foreign country.

So, I guess I'm just wondering when Boris will be going to DC to report to Congress on his lobbying on behalf of a Foreign Government?

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