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Do All These US Elected Officials Hold Dual Citizenship?

While the elected officials and their supposed secondary allegiances change, these lists are never accurate.

Published Feb 5, 2024

 (From left to right,  Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images; Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Image Via From left to right, Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images; Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Depending on the nation you live in, the way you obtain citizenship can vary dramatically. In the United States, for instance, simply being born in the country is enough. In Singapore, however, citizenship is only passed down from parent to child. In other countries, like Malta, you can gain citizenship by investing enough money in the nation's economy. Because all these pathways are quite different, this sometimes leads to situations where people hold multiple citizenships at once.

Ever since the baseless rumors about then-presidential hopeful Barack Obama supposedly being born in Kenya and not holding natural-born citizenship emerged prior to the 2008 election, claims occasionally pop up online casting doubt on the citizenship status of other high-ranking U.S. officials. Sometimes, they're even true.

Generally, these posts claim that an official is a citizen of both the U.S. and another nation. After a bad translation of a speech given in Somali by Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar went viral, posts on X (formerly Twitter) accused her and other officials of holding both U.S. and Somali citizenship. We found other posts claiming that sitting members of Congress held both American and Israeli citizenship, as well. (And yes, some commenters left antisemitic replies to those posts.)

(X users @Dalal_Saddiqi and @SamParkerSenate)

The main complaint against officials who hold dual citizenship is a question of allegiance. One of the posts says, "dual citizenship, dual loyalty," insinuating that the officials are sharing information between the two countries for some nefarious purpose. To examine the claims, we investigated Somali and Israeli citizenship laws.

Starting with Somalia, Omar's home country: The Somali Civil War began in 1991 when the government collapsed. It's still ongoing as of this writing, and although there some semblance of a Somali government, it's not stable at all. Since the entire concept of "citizenship" depends on a functioning government, Somali citizenship exists more in theory than it does in practice. In addition, the last time a Somali government passed citizenship laws in any form was 1962, and those laws banned dual citizenship entirely. So it's safe to say that no, none of the individuals listed are dual United States-Somali citizens.

As for Israel, a state whose 1948 establishment immediately started a war, we must turn to the British. In 1917, the British, who controlled the area Israel now controls, signed the Balfour declaration, announcing their support for the establishment of a Jewish state in the area, an idea known as Zionism. After the end of World War II, the United Nations followed through on it. In 1950, the Knesset, Israel's parliamentary body, passed the Law of Return, which gave every Jew around the world the right to Israeli citizenship. Debates about how to define what people the word "Jew" applies to quickly followed, but the law has been in place ever since.

However, a Jewish person setting foot in Israel does not immediately make them a citizen; they still must go through Israeli bureaucracy. You can't just list Jewish members of Congress and claim that they have Israeli citizenship. If a member (or former member) of Congress was actually a citizen of both the U.S. and Israel, we would know. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer (both Jewish) have explicitly stated that they do not hold Israeli citizenship when asked, and Sanders took offense to those questioning his loyalty to the country.

But interestingly, there's no legal requirement in the U.S. that confirms that. U.S. elected officials must confirm that they are American citizens, but are not required to disclose whether they hold additional foreign citizenship.

According to Article 2, the president of the United States must be at least 35 years old, be a natural-born citizen and have resided in the country for 14 years. For Senate members, you must have been a citizen for nine years (and be 30 years old) and for the House of Representatives, the citizenship requirement is only 7 years (and you must be 25). Those are the only restrictions.

Even the Congressional Research Service, which publishes reports about the demographics of Congress after each election cycle, does not include dual citizenship in its report. There is a section on foreign births, mentioning representatives who were children of U.S. citizens born abroad and a few bona fide immigrants in Congress, but no mention of dual citizenship.

Sources

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Casaburi, Patricia. “Malta Citizenship by Investment (CES) 2024: Ultimate Guide.” Global Citizen Solutions, 1 Feb. 2021, https://www.globalcitizensolutions.com/malta-citizenship-by-investment/.
Chapter 3 - U.S. Citizens at Birth (INA 301 and 309) | USCIS. 5 Aug. 2021, https://www.uscis.gov/policy-manual/volume-12-part-h-chapter-3.
“Dual Loyalty Disclosure Act (H.R. 946).” GovTrack.Us, https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/118/hr946. Accessed 2 Feb. 2024.
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Jack Izzo is a Chicago-based journalist and two-time "Jeopardy!" alumnus.