Marine Le Pen To End Dual Citizenship.
Most French voters on Sunday will take a decision that they ignore could actually impact French bi-nationals all over the world: the end of dual citizenship if Marine Le Pen is elected President of France.
Explaining Dual Citizenship.
What is dual citizenship anyway? A bi-national is an individual who either lives in France or abroad and has both the French citizenship (French passport) and another citizenship (another passport).
How did they manage to get two passports? They were either born in France, born abroad with at least one French parent, born abroad from foreign parents but lived in France for a number of years and so qualified to become French, they got married with a French national and applied for French citizenship, or got married with a foreign national and applied for their spouse’s citizenship.
An Old Idea Based On An Antisemitic Rhetoric.
Marine Le Pen’s ban on dual citizenship is based on her father’s antisemitic rhetoric. In a TV debate in 1989, Jean-Marie Le Pen was already talking about putting an end to dual citizenship. And when facing a government minister who he knew was of Jewish confession, he asked him whether he was a bi-national. The minister answered that he was not. Epic failure for Le Pen who wanted to make his point on ending dual citizenship based on the fact the minister in front of him would have held both French and Israeli passports. He thought he would have been able to prove that having bi-nationals within the French government was a worrying feature and ultimately putting the national interest at risk.
This old idea has since developed into something more articulated and more cynical along the years. On the justification of patriotism, bi-nationals should be told they have to make a choice: You are either French, or you are not.
Jean-Marie Le Pen, LCI, 2016 (compares dual citizenship to bigamy):
Marine Le Pen’s Far-Right party, Front National, has always called for the ban. Below is a typical example with a leaflet, found on their website, that shows how strong the nationalists feel about the issue.
“Dual citizenship must end!
The boom in the number of bi-nationals creates problems today that the French are increasingly aware of. The belonging to multiple nations contributes today, and more and more worryingly, to our fellow citizens’ weak acceptance of a common destiny, and therefore to undermining the foundations of the action of the State.”
“In the interest of France and of other nations, it is necessary to take a genuinely republican approach by putting an end to dual citizenship and to ask each of our compatriots in this situation to choose their allegiance: France or another country.”
After Brexit, A New Cause For Concerns…
Many dual nationals in France and abroad are now worried that a President Marine Le Pen actually means they will be forced to give up one citizenship for good, which could then lead to a lot of troubles in their daily life, regarding visas, employment, housing and schooling for their little ones.
Take the example of Jean-Baptiste, a French national who has been living in Britain with his family for 7 years. His wife is Argentinian and French. Their five children are all both Argentinian and French. He has chosen long ago to be only French. Because of the current situation with Brexit, he is attempting to secure permanent residence and British citizenship for his entire family, even though the UK government currently tells all EU citizens living in Britain: “You don’t need to do anything as a result of Article 50 being triggered. There will be no change to the rights and status of EU nationals living in the UK while the UK remains in the EU.” The procedure to get permanent residence and British citizenship is long and costly.
If Marine Le Pen becomes President of France, how will Jean-Baptiste and his family be affected? Because Argentina does not allow for Argentine citizenship to be renounced, if she is given the choice between keeping the French or Argentinian passport, his wife (both a French and a non-EU national) will not be able to remain as a French citizen, not by choice but because the law in her country of birth won’t allow her to. Same for the children. They will all have to lose their French citizenship. This means that unless Jean-Baptiste secures the British citizenship for his entire family soon, they will all be subject to be removed from Britain the moment new President Marine Le Pen enacts the ban on dual citizenship. As if Brexit was not already enough to deal with.
How many other French families will be affected, not just in Britain, but across the world? Thousands, hundreds of thousands? A real nightmare scenario.
EU Bi-Nationals Are Fine… For Now.
If Ms Le Pen has been extremely careful to tell voters that her policy would only impact non-EU countries (+ Russia!), she did not guaranty that all other EU citizenship wouldn’t be affected in a longer term. With the candidate anti-Europe that she is, you bet they would.
“I am against dual nationality outside Europe, so I ask to choose their nationality, that does not mean that if they do not choose French nationality, they will have to leave France,” Marine Le Pen said on France 2, last February.
About 3 million bi-nationals are estimated to be living in France and many more are living abroad with their families too. Their children have the French citizenship, their spouses have it, and so have their friends. We all know one of them or know someone who knows one of them.
The End Of Mass Immigration And Unemployment?
With about 10% unemployment in France, Ms Le Pen argues that banning dual citizenship would mean prioritising French citizens over ‘foreigners’, and putting an end to both mass immigration and unemployment.
Let’s look at the facts, shall we? According to the French Institute for Demographic Studies, a public research institute specialised in population studies:
“Dual nationals account for 5% of the population of metropolitan France aged 18 to 50 years; 90% of them are immigrants or descendants of immigrants. Nearly half of immigrants who have acquired French nationality have also kept their original one. While there are very few bi-nationals among persons originally from Southeast Asia (less than 10%), more than two-thirds of North African immigrants, 55% of Turkish immigrants and 43% of Portuguese immigrants combine French nationality with that of their countries of origin. Unlike Spanish or Italian immigrants, those from other EU27 countries mainly hold on to their original nationalities when they become French.”
The obvious targets of Marine Le Pen’s project of banning the dual citizenship are the immigrants and children of immigrants in France, everyone else (like Jean-Baptist and his family, for example) will be seen as an “acceptable loss”, a “collateral damage”.
Do Dual Citizens “Feel Less French”?
In her repeated attempts to convince the general public that dual citizenship is evil, Marine Le Pen also likes to claim that being a bi-national means you “feel less French”. Again, let’s fact-check with the French Institute for Demographic Studies:
“Being a dual national has little impact on feeling French. Bi-national immigrants feel just as French as those who gave up their original nationality: 82% in both cases. The feeling of national (French) belonging among bi-national children of immigrants is slightly weaker (87%) than among immigrants’ children with only French citizenship (94%). However, dual nationality is significantly associated with stronger feelings of belonging to the country of origin (one’s own or one’s parents’). In other words, having dual citizenship is a sign of attachment to origins, but this is not contradictory with having a strong French identity. It is important today to recognise and respect identity plurality rather than conceiving of identity in the singular and assuming that it involves an exclusive allegiance.”
At the moment, bi-nationals can only be stripped of their French citizenship if they have harmed the interests of the nation, or if they have been convicted of a terrorist offence. Marine Le Pen wants to change all that with a ban.
Marine Le Pen’s ban has only one name: it’s called racism. Banning dual citizenship so that French citizens turn into foreigners is not just a lunatic measure, but it is a xenophobic measure.
The Importance Of Sunday’s Vote.
On Sunday 7 May, every French voter has a duty.
I am not talking about the duty of a citizen who goes to the polling station to express an opinion by voting blank or null.
I am not talking about the duty of a citizen who wants to stay at home to protest against two candidates they didn’t want to see in the second round of the election.
I am not even talking about the duty of a citizen who goes to vote to defend a certain idea that they might have of the Republican Front.
No. I am talking about the duty every French voter will have to vote against Marine Le Pen to protect their fellow bi-national citizens in France and in the world.
I am talking about protecting Sarah, 7, and her parents (French-British), Julie, 11, and her mum (French-Japanese), Joao and Alicia, 6, and their parents (French-Brazilian), Kevin, 13, Daniel, 15, and their parents (French-American), Mohammed, 6, and his parents (French-Ghana), Hassan, 17, and his Grandmother (French-Moroccan), Jean-Baptiste and his family (French-Argentinian)… Protecting them all from Marine Le Pen’s divisive and alienating policies.
Marine Le Pen’s slogan is “Choisir la France.” (“Choose France”)
She does not choose France, she chooses to divide France. She points the finger at the people she claims are “the problem” and who she thinks don’t deserve to be French, don’t need to be French, should not be French and that she wants to ban from France’s life.
She wants to turn the majority of French citizens against a small group of other French citizens that happen to be bi-nationals so that they are perceived as second-zone citizens. Is that her vision of what “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” (“liberty, equality, fraternity”) means?
This is why for every single French bi-national out there and their families — that one might know, or might not —, to protect them, protect their families and protect their rights to be French, on Sunday, every French voter has a duty to vote Emmanuel Macron. ◼︎
(This article was first published on the politics magazine PoliticsMeansPolitics.com)
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J.N. PAQUET is an author, journalist and political writer. He is the editor of PoliticsMeansPolitics.com. His book series on populism and nationalism “The Tip of The Populist Iceberg?” is available in print, eBook and audiobook worldwide.
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(Photograph cover: French passport © Lilcrazyfuzzy | Dreamstime.com)