A two-nation man

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2005: Typing citizenship application on my 1923 Royal.

THE MOVEMENT of time fascinates me — calendars, watches, wall clocks, birthdays, anniversaries. You name it, I’m on it.

What is it today? My Mexican citizenship, 15 years now. I applied in January 2005*, and the papers were delivered in December of that same year.

Within a month, I had a Mexican passport. Citizenship does not come with a passport. You do that separately. Or not. I remain an American citizen, of course, and I renewed my U.S. passport two years ago at the consulate in San Miguel de Allende, a useless act. I don’t need it anymore, and not renewing it would not affect my U.S. citizenship. It was a waste of time and money. I have no intention of crossing the border again.

It was a knee-jerk action on my part.

Becoming a Mexican citizen was easy. I filled out a form that was similar to the form to renew my visa. I paid a fee (about $100 U.S. if memory serves), and I waited. That was it. The process is more complicated now, I’m told. A language test, a Mexican history and culture test, some other hurdles, none of which did I have to do.

I did speak briefly to the clerk in Spanish. Perhaps that was a language test, but there was no written requirement of anything. Piece of cake.

On just two occasions in the past 15 years have I had to salute the Mexican flag, and I’ll tell you the truth. It feels odd. Nationality is in your genes. Putting on a coat of another color, especially late in life, is strange. But I am very glad Mexico took me in, especially now that the United States is imploding.

Trump is only slowing that down. He cannot stop it.

Many Gringos move down here, stay for years, and never become citizens. They just renew temporary visas interminably or get a permanent resident visa, which is almost like being a citizen, but you cannot vote.

I vote in elections on both sides of the Rio Bravo.

I like being a two-nation man.

* * * *

* Coincidentally, it was also January 2005 when I started the blog.

28 thoughts on “A two-nation man

  1. That photo is a Norman Rockwell painting.

    Knowing how to speak Spanish, familiarity with Mexican history and integration in the national culture have long been prerequisites to applying for naturalization, even when you applied, but the testing requirement did not come into play until 2007. The Chinese drug dealer Zhenli Ye Gon who managed to snag his naturalization in the space of 3 weeks impelled SRE to impose the testing requirements, reviewing and scrutinizing all applications which were pending at that time, including cartas which had been issued but not yet delivered to the newly naturalized citizens.

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    1. Ms. Shoes: I made it just under the wire, as did you. Or maybe not. I recall there was quite a bit of delay with your application. They probably learned that you were a lawyer, which should give any sensible nation pause.

      Yeah, it’s a good photo. Did you notice my socks? I was cold. It was January.

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      1. My carta had been signed and was in CDMX when the crafty Chinaman pulled that stunt, sending everything back for review. I had to re-submit all of the documents relating to my birth and identity, freshly apostilled and translated all over again, just so the bureaucrats could be satisfied. That caused a several-month delay, during which I just said fuck-it-all and went to Buenos Aires for three months. Upon my return, the carta was in Morelia, the SRE delegado telling me, “But now there’s a test.” I told her I’d be by in the morning to pick up my carta. She replied that the test had not yet been prepared. I told her “See ya in the morning, bring it on,” so she made up a test, which I quickly completed, but not until I’d surrendered my FM-2, making her sign for it to show that I, too, could play the game, writing out excessively long answers with the signed carta right in front of me just to show off and make her admit that I knew my stuff. After she approves my answers, there is a foreign English-speaking couple at the counter wanting their permission to aquire real estate, and she tells me that since I’m a Mexican citizen now, I can deal with them. I take their information, explaining to them, in English, of course, why the permit is required, what the Calvo clause is, pretending to be a bureaucrat. They compliment me on my excellent command of the English language.

        I got my passport the next day, using it a week later to go to California.

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    2. Ms. Shoes, P.S.: Thinking more on it, that does resemble Norman Rockwell quite a bit. What’s really noticeable to me is that blank yard beyond the window. It’s full of plant life nowadays.

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  2. Congratulations on your anniversary. I was surprised when I visited Cuba, that Cubans don’t lose their citizenship even when they become naturalized U.S. citizens. So now I have two passports, though the Cuban passport doesn’t buy me much unless I want to visit North Korea or Iran, which I don’t.

    We’ve been here 14 years, and neither Stew nor I have felt any practical or emotional urge to become Mexican citizens. We have friends who have become Mexican citizens, which nowadays is an arduous process. The reason they became Mexicans, if I understand their motives, sounds more like spite toward the U.S. and American politics nowadays, and they vow never to go back.

    To each its own.

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    1. Señor Lanier: The entire visa situation was different back then. I had what was called an FM3 visa, and renewing it annually was a pain in the butt. Seemed like every time I picked up a new one it was time to renew again. That was my primary motivation. Had the current situation existed then, I probably would have gone for the permanent resident, but maybe not. I like being a Mexican. And I like to vote.

      As for Cuba letting you still be Cuban in spite of being an American, well, there are a number of nations that accept dual citizenship. Truth be told, I would give up my U.S. citizenship in a nanosecond now were it not such an inconvenience to do so. Yep, I would. And I would do it because of the cursed FATCA law dropped on us by the Obama Administration.

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      1. I don’t know this for a fact, but I’ve got to imagine that giving up your U.S. citizenship would likely cancel your social security. I’d certainly recommend finding out whether this is true or not before renouncing.

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        1. Kim: One thing I noticed at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City when I was signing up for SS years ago was the number of clearly Mexicans who were doing the same thing. I’m guessing they were people who had worked in the U.S. with a green card (one hopes). Citizenship does not seem to be a requirement. Working legally in some way, and having a SS number, seem to be the prime factors. There were full-color brochures available at the embassy too, written in Spanish, explaining the details of applying for and receiving SS.

          But fret not. I’m not giving up my U.S. citizenship out of pure laziness if nothing more. But, at this point, if it were gone, I would not lose a moment of sleep.

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  3. Your mention of your socks made me take a closer look of the picture. I assumed that was just another Royal portable, but now I see it was a Royal office machine WITH the glass windows on the side panels. Do you still have it? Is it a Spanish keyboard? Congrats on 15 years blogging. Phil

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    1. Phil: I was sporting some locally-made wool socks atop my regular socks that day. January can get pretty mean around here. The typewriter belonged to my paternal grandfather, then my father, and now me, so it’s the English version. I believe that was the last time I used it. It now sits in the living room as an objet d’art.

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  4. I have played with the idea over the past five years of becoming a Mexican citizen. Like you, I was tired of renewing my FM3. But the enactment of the permanent resident card with no requirement for renewal removed that reason. Being able to vote and owning a Mexican passport were still incentives. The only reason I hesitated was AMLO’s election. It added a bit of uncertainty in the air. As it turns out, none of the citizenship process has changed since his election. The only reason I am now on hold is inertia.

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    1. Señor Cotton: Inertia is a powerful thing, for some folks more than others. As for uncertainty in the air due to our megalomaniac president, that still lingers. Sad.

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    2. Steve, for only about the last forty years, the FM-2 was an inmigrante status, which led to inmigrado status, which required no renewal, no need for a work permit. It was what is referred to today as the permanent resident status, so there was really no change enacted.

      The process for applying for naturalization is really unchanged from times of yore. If anything, it’s been streamlined in recent years. You have no excuse for not applying.

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      1. Kim: My wife owns everything, the homes, the cars, everything. I own squat. I am beneficiary in her will, of course, but due to our age difference it is highly probable that I will check out before her.

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        1. Yes, but that comment was directed to Steve, whose house is in a fideicomiso due to his non-citizenship. I should have been clearer.

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          1. Kim: Clarity is a good thing, but the comment layout here lends itself to confusion. That’s why I always start a response with the name of the person to whom it is directed.

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      2. Aliens have been able to hold property in fee simple outside of the restricted zones in Mexico since the late ’80s. Transferring property out of a fideicomiso would trigger tax events that make the exercise costly and not worth the effort.

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