Former FSM President on Dual Citizenship act


Part 1
My Fellow FSM Citizens:
I write this Open Letter to you to share my deep concern about the proposed amendment to Section 3 of Article III of our national constitution. This current provision of our national constitution requires that an FSM citizen who is also a citizen of another country should “register his intent to remain a citizen” of our country, the Federated States of Micronesia, and “renounce his citizenship of another nation” within 3 years of his 18th birthday. In plain English, it means that a minor who holds a dual citizenship of Federated States of Micronesia and the United States, for example, because he or she was born in the United States to parents who are both FSM citizens or one was FSM citizen must register his or her intent to remain FSM citizen before he or she reaches 21 years old. If he or she fails to register as FSM citizen he or she will no longer be FSM citizen, but he or she will remain as a FSM national. A national is a person who remains in FSM, but does not have the right to run for public office and participate in state and national election.

This proposed amendment is being dressed up as a dual citizenship proposal, but is not. It deletes the citizenship provision in our national constitution, and leaves nothing in its place. Some members of our national congress tell us that the FSM Congress will enact a dual citizenship law later. The issue here is that the framers of our national constitution deemed citizenship as an important national issue that the FSM citizens must have national conversation and debate it before the voters approve or reject it in a national referendum. If our congress is given the power to enact a citizenship law, you as the member of the public and keeper of our national sovereignty will have no chance to debate and discuss the issue at all, given the current practice of almost no transparency our national congress. In essence, this proposed amendment is a disempowerment of the FSM public and voters to discuss, debate, and approve or reject any proposed amendment to the citizenship provision of our national constitution. To put it the other way, this proposed amendment is an empowerment of the FSM Congress and disempowerment of the FSM public and voters.
I think we should insist that any changes to the FSM citizenship provision in our national constitution must be approved in a national referendum because citizenship is linked directly to the ownership of land in our country. I am sure that as citizens and voters, you want to review, discuss, and debate any impact of any proposed citizenship law on your land. Here our congress is asking all of us to hand them a blank check to fashion and craft a new citizenship dual citizenship law, not knowing its impact on landownership in our country.
Now let us focus on dual citizenship itself. I think our national congress has a total misunderstanding of dual citizenship in the United States. I know that we are trying to make ourselves eligible for dual citizens of the FSM and United States. For those of us who are born here in our country, it is impossible to get that dual citizenship we coveted. We need to apply for immigration visa to migrate to the United States. We will need to meet the US government immigration law requirements. Once we are in the United States, we must go through the US naturalization process, which required us to take the OATH OF US CITIZENSHIP and pledge of allegiance. The oath of US citizenship and Pledge of Allegiance to the United States read as follows:


  • Part 2
    "I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God." (Emphasis mine)
    As you can see, this oath of US citizenship and pledge of allegiance to United States required us to renounce our FSM citizenship. So we become US citizens and lost our FSM citizenship. We will never get dual citizenship for the FSM and US this way .
    The FSM citizens who migrated to the United States under the Compact are not eligible to apply for naturalization to become US citizens. (This Compact restriction does not apply to the Micronesian citizens in the United States armed forces.) If the FSM immigrants want to apply for naturalization to become US citizens, they must return to the Federated States of Micronesia and apply for US immigration visa and wait for their visas approval. I do not know how long it takes the United States to approve immigration visas. However, I do know that the United States does not look favorable upon economic refugees’ request for immigration visas. But suppose you are lucky and you get a US immigration visa. When you migrate to the United States using your immigration visa and at some point you will take the required Oath of US citizenship and Allegiance to the United States. At his point, and as shown in the previous case, you will renounce your FSM citizenship to become US citizen. So again, you become US citizen and lost the FSM citizenship. This pathway to dual citizenship for the FSM and US is closed as it is in the previous scenario.
    The people who will be benefitting from a FSM dual citizenship law vis-à-vis the United States are the children of FSM citizens who are born in the United States and the children of mixed-marriages between FSM citizens and United States citizens. For the former group, they become US citizens by virtue of being born in the United State (jus soli) pursuant to the 14th Amendment to the United States constitution. For the latter group, they will become US citizens because one parent is a citizen of the United States (jus sanguineness). So if our country allowed dual citizenship, then these people will retain their FSM citizenship as well as their US citizenship. All of my five grandchildren are in this group because they were born in the United States. Now, because none of them have reached 21 years of age, they are dual citizens of FSM and the United States. But before each of them reach the age of twenty-one, he or she will have to choose whether to renounce his or her FSM citizenship and retains the United States citizenship. If this happens, he or she will not be able to own any land or holds elective office in the FSM. From my perspective, it will be unfortunate but it is their life and it is their choice to make. If I am still alive, I will give it my blessing. My hope is that all of them will choose to renounce their US citizenship and remain FSM citizens.
    I do not favor or advocate for dual citizenship for the FSM and the United States or other countries, for that matter. To me, the essence of our country, the national sovereignty and the continual development of nationalism, are paramount. I do not want to sacrifice the essence of our country for the sake of enabling my grandchildren to acquire dual citizenship. When they grow up, they will decide for themselves, and bear any consequences. The people in this group will be the only people who can acquire dual citizenship of FSM and the United States. The issues we need to address are: How many people in this group who will benefit from a proposed dual citizenship? Is it worth enacting a dual citizenship for these people and risk allowing foreigners who are able to acquire dual citizenship for FSM and their respective countries to own land in our country?
  • Part 3
    Our country’s citizenship is linked directly to our national sovereignty. Sovereignty is the supreme authority of a country to enact its own laws regarding its population and national territory within its boundary without any interference from outside. Our national sovereignty rests upon three pillars (or posts). Each of these pillars must remain strong all the time. These three pillars are (1) the territory, (2) the government, and (3) the citizens of our country. Allowing dual citizenship will weaken the third pillar because these dual citizens would have divided loyalty to our country and their other country of citizenship. Should they be loyal to the FSM or to their other country of citizenship? Citizens with divided loyalty are not compatible to a strong and robust national sovereignty.
    Today our country is still struggling to develop a full blown nationalism, a prerequisite for a robust national sovereignty. Nationalism is loyalty, patriotism, and devotion to one’s own country. In essence, it is a sense of national consciousness exalting one’s own country over all other countries. Nationalism is the main ingredient of our national sovereignty.
    The development of nationalism in our country is still in its infancy, like a Micronesian baby rolling around in its small baby mat. If we allow dual citizenship, it will be one more barrier to our country’s development of full nationalism and the achievement of a strong robust national sovereignty. Our national politicians treat our nation’s political development like the weather. They talk about it, but they do nothing, absolutely nothing, to enhance its development. In fact, they do the opposite. They attempt to weaken our country’s political development. This so-called dual citizenship amendment proposal is a example of contradictory political development that would weaken the essence of our country’s national sovereignty.
    In insisting to allow dual citizenship, our national congress has come perilous close to violating Section 3 of Article XIII of our national constitution. This section makes it a “solemn obligation of the national and state governments to uphold the provisions of this Constitution and to advance the principles of unity upon which this Constitution is founded.” (emphasis mine) Of course, our congress can propose amendment to our national constitution at any time, but that amendment should not be harmful to the national essence of our country. This proposed dual citizenship amendment, if it can be called that, would be harmful to our national sovereignty and it is an impediment to the development of nationalism in our country.
    I sometimes wonder what has happened to our congress. I spent four years of my life as member of the House of Representatives of the now-defunct Congress of Micronesia. I was elected to the first FSM Congress and served for eight years. I left at the beginning of the fifth FSM Congress to serve as the second president of our country. Our congress now is not recognizable to me anymore. The FSM Congress I knew was keen on pushing our nation’s national agenda, such as the Compact negotiation, participation in the UN Law of the Sea Conference, and convening the Micronesian Constitutional Convention. It was not interested in giving itself an enormous budget. In fact the mantra in congress at that time was always trimming the congress budget. Before I left the congress, the salary for each senator was $18,000 per annum, and the official expense allowance was $3,000 per year. These figures are puny figures in comparison to the salaries and official allowances of our national senators today. Today, members of our congress received $27,000 in salary each year and an obscenely enormous $120,000 of official expense allowance per member per year. For the fourteen national senators alone, the amount of their official expense allowance is a whopping total of $1,680,000.00 per year. For a poor country such as our, this amount is morally and ethically unjustified. It is a complete rip-off of our national treasury. It is a violation of our congress members’ fiduciary relationship with the FSM public. As members of our national congress, the senators are the trustees, and the guardians of our national treasury. They should safeguard our national treasury, not raiding it for their own benefit and for enhancement of their reelection.
    Another despicable practice that members of our congress are engaging in is offering scholarship of their own under their own control. This practice is good for their reelection, but it violates the separation of power between the congress and the executive branch, a main doctrine of our national constitution. The FSM Supreme Court has ruled in Udot v FSM Finance that this kind of practice is violative of our national constitution. And yet, members of our congress continue to engage in this kind of activity without any legal consequences.
    Unfortunately, our constitution does not prescribed any penalty for violation of its provision such as the separation of power and violation of public trust and ethic by members of our congress. However, as voters, you are not entirely helpless. The purpose of election is to evaluate the performance of your representatives in our national congress. On March 3rd of this year, you will have your chance to vote. If you disagree with what is happening in our congress and the direction it has led our country, by all means express your disagreement through your vote. Send them an unequivocal message that they never forget.
    I want to conclude this open letter by saying that this so-called dual citizenship proposal is bad for our country. It has the potential of allowing foreigners, when they become dual citizens, to own land in our country. Furthermore, only a small group of people can acquire dual citizenship for FSM and the United States, the main purpose of this amendment effort.
  • Part 4
    The damage a dual citizenship amendment will do to our sovereignty and nationalism is incalculable because the impact can only be measured over time. However, I encourage you to consider what I have said in this open letter before you cast your vote on the so-called dual citizenship amendment proposal.
    Thank you very much and I remain
    Sincerely yours,
    John R. Haglelgam
  • I salute you former President and Associate Professor Haglelgam....God bless u.
  • With all due respect, I disagree. When our FSM Constitution came into effect, there were only a few US born children of one or both Micronesian parents. Now there are thousand of them still living in the US and its territories. These thousands will be forced to lose their FSM citizenship if we failed to pass this dual citizenship amendment in March. It will be an awful decision on our part to betray our children from having the chance of having land, voting and running for elective offices in the FSM because our FSM Constitution does not allow it. Those that are in the FSM don't feel the anxiety that we parents currently living in the US are feeling for our US borne children. Our children's love their Micronesian identity and they love their Micronesia. Perusing the US Pledge of Allegiance, I don't see where in it that restrict an American from having dual citizenship. Your loyalty and patriotism to both countries of citizenry should not be questioned because you belong to both. The open letter is fraught with nudges to our Congress and especially our children born in the US. Vote YES!
  • edited February 2017
    Thank you SerekinNoufich. That is the respond I was searching for in trying to reply to President Hagleligam's OPINION in the issue.

    The point and intention of the amendment, I think, is to provide the chance to and for the American (and other nationalities) born Micronesians the opportunity to be legally Micronesians and maintain their birth citizenship as well.

    John is still lingering within the framework of the past Micronesia. I hope he can step out a little bit from within his own confinement and be with the rest whether he likes it or not because he must realize that although the sun still rises from the east and sets at the west, the canoe has alternate courses depending on the weather and must sail on to sail towards its destiny. Weather changes, climate remains.
  • Well said SerekinNoufich and thanks Sinbad for saying it as you see it. This amendment is straight forward. The World is not stopping for anyone. Need more forward thinkers, no direspect to our former President.
  • With due respect to President, his comment that upon taking US citizenship through naturalization (such as US military) requires renounciation of FSM is not true. US permits dual citizenship - with FSM or another nation. That is why DCs can Enter US on their US passport and enter FSM On their FSM passport.
  • Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America

    "I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."

    Part of the requirement of being a US citizens is that you must file and pay any relevant taxes annually no matter where they live and work. Americans who are resident in foreign jurisdictions (countries) must also first file and pay taxes to the country of their residency and then make a declaration to the United States (see taxation section for more information on this).

    US citizens, even if they are citizens of another country, must enter and leave the United States using their US passport when visiting for leisure or business.

    Under current law, all male US citizens are required to register with the US Selective Service System within 30 days of their 18th birthday.

    At the present time there is no obligation to serve (induction), but registering for the draft is still required for all men between the ages of 18 and 25, even for US citizens living abroad. In addition, non-US-citizen males between the ages of 18 and 25 (inclusive) living in the United States must register. This includes permanent residents (holders of green cards), refugees, asylees, and illegal immigrants. Foreign males lawfully present in the United States who are non-immigrants, such as international students, visitors, and diplomats, are not required to register.

    Failure to register as required is grounds for denying financial aid, federal grants and loans, certain government benefits, eligibility for most federal employment, and, if the person is an immigrant, can deny eligibility for US citizenship. Those who were required to register, but failed to do so before they turn 26, are no longer allowed to register, and thus may be permanently barred from federal jobs and other benefits, unless they can show to the Selective Service that their failure was not knowing and willful.
  • no to DUAL CITIZENSHIP!!!!!
  • Naturalization Oath does not apply to those that qualify for dual citizenship because they are already citizens by birth or being that one parent is already an American. Right now they are being told to choose when they turn 21 between U.S. and FSM. Some have chosen U.S. because of obvious reasons. Those that naturalize, applicable to only those that are not eligible for dual citizenship, will have to lose FSM citizenship, if they choose to naturalize, AND they can do that WITHOUT the dual citizenship being passed.

    Yes to dual citizenship and no to backward brains. There is a continuing internal conflict with us. We wish to be part of foreign countries as our Compact says and we allow Amercians to pay for health and education albeit haphazardly run, yet we have a fear of crossing some imaginary line. I remember the outcry when Congress proposed a bill to do away the Compact by 2018. The fear of separating from the U.S. was real and people were genuinely scared for the wrong reasons (only the people can end the Compact by popular vote). This was just months ago yet under the same breath, we complain about being part of other countries (i.e. gross misunderstanding of the impact of dual citizenship). The Compact, people, makes us more part of America than you think. They changed contracts without state legislatures and so forth. The dual citizenship will only make a hand-full of those that ALREADY qualify to be dual citizens and making those few truly be part of America while still FSM citizens. Those pure FSM citizens can only become U.S. citizens if you naturalize and when that happens you will lose FSM citizenship. Again, this exercise will not affect most of us directly.

    Just because the former President stated his opinion does not make that opinion right or is based on correct analysis. He is missing much of the social and economic concerns and perhaps the entire idea behind the exercise. We are still Micronesians and making some of our citizens eligible to get more school, work and social benefits better than the rest of us does not betray out identity. The Compact did the betrayal but that passed with urging from the likes of them "founding fathers." The Compact has a denial clause the makes us perpetually tied to the Amercians and people like my generation never had a chance to decide. If anything, that was the ultimate betrayal.
  • Vote Yes to Dual. I agree with you Microspring2014 on your take. I also believe that the Pledge of Allegiance and the Oath of Citizenship has nothing to do with citizenship and are merely that...pledges and commitments. I once recited the Pledge of Allegiance when I entered the military and it did not make a U.S. citizen out of me. I remain a proud, loyal FSM citizen. So vote Yes.
  • This is what I take away from all the postings in this blog, and that is that none of the postings herein comes close to what the President has elaborately enumerated in his own posting. I am not even sure if any of his co-equals (ex-presidents) had as much understanding of the Constitution as he does even though many of them were also framers. I say this because I am afraid these people whose knowledge of the Document is very limited and minimally sufficient to their own consumption run the risk of misleading other people like me to vote for or against the amendment when we should have vote otherwise. I was coordinating the ESG campaign in one of the then Micronesian districts and got training in Saipan before being dispatched to the districts. Having gone through such training I thought I am one of the few citizens who has little familiarity with the document and therefore, decided to walk behind the scholar, President Haglelgam. In one posting it was suggested that the President belonged to the "old group" and is therefore outdated. My question is how many amendments have been made to the Constitution? Not one, not two, not three but ZERO. Nothing has changed.
  • these yes people are seeing the proposed amendment with their narrow/selfish vision. the smaller vs the bigger picture. don't tamper with the supreme law of the nation. every article, every section is there to protect and preserve the well-being of ALL the people of the nation not just a few selfserving/self-interest individuals. vote NO on the DC initiative.
  • edited February 2017
    Come on Kinen, you do not mean what you said. No one has mastered the Constitution when read in whole. The Constitution to me is not the supreme law of the land but a modern tool to free the Micronesians from the wrath of colonialism. Now we have achieved that (by freeing ourselves) then by all means parts of the Constitution needs to be amended to reflect the changes in our society and internationally as well as maintaining the strength of our historical past in terms of customs and traditions; they are the basis of being Micronesians. It is therefore only logical that re-connection to Micronesian roots can be appreciated by dual citizenship. So YES to that.
  • Kinen, Garim & Iamsorry, let me put in a few words to ease your worries since the discussion here is about the DC referendum. Please if you are so affected by your own interests to do away with the extreme needs of our nationals that are our own blood, be my guests. But know that when you decide to do that, it is within your conscious and human nature to love your very own blood and family first and the worldly things are secondary. No matter who said what about what? it is within your conscious to do your duty. In every family of FSM, there are US nationals in thousands that put their HOPES in you. So, as you had thought through, it might be nothing to you but a lot more than you know to them. Also, when you look at the scope of the most sensitive issue surrounding the DC proposal, it is land. There are 115,000 people here and 607 islands. Less than 50 of those islands are inhabited and less than 35% of any State is occupied or being developed. I do hope you go to church and believe in the Lord because it is the epitome of that very belief that drives this bill not matter the circumstances, vote for your own blood, vote YES.
  • If the amendment passes, will future land owners be mostly FSM citizens who actually reside in the FSM? Or US/FSM dual citizens who actually reside in the U.S.?
  • I have a feeling local traditions will take care of your concerns as the right to land being decided by head of family. The issue will be mostly be decided by the local tradition which already been the way for more longer than we know.
  • so, why bother with DC, error?
  • You don't have to agree with the former president or anyone here. But, what are the advantages to the nation of FSM? So it's a progressive idea.. so what? How will this dual citizenship help our education? Our health? Here in FSM? It is a waste of time, money and effort in the wrong direction. Those children who are born in the states and living there are doing just fine. Let's think about these kids here in FSM first. This is misdirection in a misguided and malfunctioning way.
  • micromatter welcome.

    how are the children here fine? they are treated with medicines and go to hospitals paid by the U.S. These medical supplies are not enough and managed bad. They go to school at school paid for and teachers paid for by U.S. The managements are not good and our children continue to complete high school without full qualification for U.S. colleges right away. Thank goodness for one private hospital (full of health providers from the public sector looking for treatment because the one private hospital provides better service) and some private high schools (full of children of educators). Our "forefather" screwed us and and current replacements continue to screw us with accumulation of wealth to them. Look at their homes and businesses that were made while in government. Dual citizenship will allow the few of us that qualify for better Medicare or Medicaid (later on in life) and so forth in the health arena. It will also qualify a few of us to get college benefits aside from the Pell Grant. With maximum education and a status for these few that straddles both countries, it will allow some of our children to become officers in the service while still FSM citizens. It will allow more chance of Micronesians with FSM passports to become U.S. senators, reports, astronauts and even President. I see a lot of big loaded words like "misdirection" and "misguided" and many cultural buzz words but no explanation on how dual citizenship will hurt the few that qualify and/or hurt us as a nation. I will once again say it: the Compact tied us to the U.S. in perpetuity. If anything, that instrument already betrayed out true sovereignty than this dual citizenship will ever do.
  • The children born in the states.... United States not federated states.

    I agree with you... we have so many problems here, what is the use of a dual citizenship law when we can't even address basic health care... like you said - medical supplies are not enough and managed bad. So even with knowing we have all these problems at home, we will now waste time on something that doesn't address basic education or health? That is "misguided" and total "misdirection"....
    It's not that it will "hurt" us... but if we are so far behind in health and education... how will this "help?".... I can't see anything but misdirection from the real issues. Basic education. Basic health.
  • If we believed that we were betrayed once, brace yourselves, DC will be the second betrayal. If there should be a third ONE, komenasai, I won't be around to enjoy it.
  • Dual citizenship will allow a few of us born on U.S. soil and those with one parent who is an American to have the best of both worlds (two passports with the U.S. one giving you maximum opportunity that everyone is flocking to the U.S. for these days). That is it! That means state-of-the-art health and education exposure to these few loved ones while still maintaining some identity of being Micronesian (FSM Passport). The status quo is that one choose which world when they turn 21. Even with the passing of dual citizenship, not all are qualified. If one naturalizes (permitted today), one loses FSM citizenship status). That is the bottom line. Dual citizenship is not meant to and will not solve the current basic health and basic education and just about every other bad services provided for in this country run by bad managers. That is to be solved by our leaders since 1986 but that is where the former President should have focused on because the failures were done on their watch and continues to this very day.
  • I totally agree that those born on U.S. soil should take advantage of the latest technology and take advantage of their positions in the U.S. I'm very happy that my family can enjoy those things because they were born in the U.S. But, who is holding forums across borders to lobby for the children born in the FSM for their basic rights? How much money has been spent on this awareness campaign that could have gone to buy toilet paper for the public schools? Or books? Almost everyone I know has a family member who was born in the U.S. They are fortunate. What is the use of this dual citizenship law that only wastes time and energy to benefit people who are living in the greatest country in the world?
  • While i agree that the planning and execution of this education awareness outreach could have been more carefully coordinated to ensure uniformity of ideas/data/facts, etc and flawless presentation, the core idea remains the same- repeal Section 3 of Article III of our FSM Constitution.
    This section has been on the chopping block for years and will continue to be for many reasons.

    Let us pause for a moment and think of all those FSMers born on U.S soil/territory between 1996 and 1999 and ask ourselves- who are these people?

    We know what the law says of their citizenship if they fail to register their intention to renounce U.S citizenship. Should they renounce their U.S citizenship status considering all benefits from both nations? Realistically, who among this age group will renounce U.S citizenship?

    This is prime time for this age group, finishing up high school, attending colleges, pursuing post secondary education, enlisting in the U.S Armed Services, working in the vast private market of capitalism, etc. In short, its go time for this age group....worrying about losing FSM citizenship should not be an added burden to them. They were born FSM citizens by virtue of their parents, they should remain FSM citizens irrespective of where they were born.

    So i ask all of you young men and women of proud Micronesian heritage to take this opportunity and be part of this movement to ensure that you remain citizens of FSM and your birthplace from birth till whenever. That whenever should always be your choice..not the govt. Right now Section 3 of Art 3 of our FSM const is denying you that. Make your voice counts. There are many of you turning 18 yrs or 21 yrs old this year..focus on your future. There are thousands more behind you walking in the same shoes, and there are thousands more of us FSM citizens who will continue to work smarter, fight smarter, and do everything legally and morally possible to ensure that you or those coming after you will be treated justly. You are a big part of FSM future, it boggles the minds why we should not let you be. Carry on!!!
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