Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Expats, immigrants, and inheriting citizenship, Part 1 of 2

I'm not the first to make the observation that "expats" are white and usually wealthy (or at least, they usually end up putting more in the tax coffers than they take out), and "migrants" or "immigrants" are not white, regardless of their class. If anybody wants to say white privilege doesn't exist, there's your proof to the contrary.  The right-wing/nationalist/white supremacists in most European nations love to hate on the Turks and/or Moroccans and/or anybody with darker skin, saying that "these people" are diluting the cultural purity or whatever the lingo for justifying hating brown/black people is in Europe these days.  Never mind the nice blonde lady who's been living next door for five years and can't speak a word of Dutch. No, the real danger to the country is from the people who've been living here for generations and have deep roots in the community.  (And, because of Poe's Law, yes, this was meant sarcastically).

Part of the problem, as I see it, is that Europe does inherited citizenships, and not birthright citizenships.  And I guess it makes a certain amount of sense; if you're going to encourage people to move across borders then having a family with multiple nationalities is kind of a pain in the ass. Only 30 countries in the world have birthright citizenship (mostly in the Americas), and US is one of them.  Everywhere else, if you're born to a [nationality] in a different country, you'll have [nationality] as long as you can't afford to change it.  

And while the process of becoming a Dutch national is merely expensive (810 euros as of 2014)--as opposed to expensive and confusing as f*ck-all, as it is in the US--the fact that it has to be done before your kids can get on equal footing, government-wise, with everybody else is grossly unfair and probably contributes more than most people want to admit to the discrimination that is faced by people with ancestries from Africa and the Middle East.  The fact that someone born within a certain country, grows up in that country, has a fulfilling life in that country, roots for that country in the World Cup, and yet has to buy citizenship (which isn't cheap) before they are allowed to vote in national elections or claim what citizens can take for granted is just a little disturbing if you think about it.  Not to mention that, if you want someone to be proud of the country they live in, having the nationality of said country is kind of a prerequisite to being part of the tribe.  It was a long time before I could be proud of the US of A, and part of that was because, until I was in my teens, I wasn't a US citizen.  I couldn't say, "We're all Americans" because I wasn't one.

I'm not saying that Europe needs to change their system--it would probably go some way towards solving the problem of people not integrating, though--but having to pay for the citizenship of a country you grew up in isn't exactly fair.  Let's not pretend that it isn't just a tiny bit racist, either.  The fact that the targets of the conversation in the US are mostly Mexicans (and, to some extent, wealthy Asians) only augments this.  You never hear people going on about all the British taking over Hollywood.

We were insanely lucky:  lucky that I was able to get in my language classes and take and pass the NT2 before a whole bunch of rules were changed, lucky that I was able to afford the 810 euros to add Dutch citizenship to my roster of countries I can call home, lucky that Karel was able to get kidlet's nationality re-arranged before we got in trouble for hosting an illegal American citizen (ironic, isn't it?).  But it's my opinion that these things shouldn't be a matter of luck.  Luck is for the casinos, not a way to live life.  

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