For blood and soil Americans, citizenship is something entirely different. After all, two-thirds of Americans do not even have a passport. Rather, this nation is who we are. It is mom, apple pie, Main Street, the English language, our ancestors, our only political loyalty, and our destiny. Unlike globe-trotting “citizens of the world,” we are not just passing through.
A similarly crass view of citizenship is the root of the “birth tourism” phenomenon. Foreigners, typically Chinese, though sometimes Russians or Brazilians, come here late in their pregnancies for the sole purpose of giving their kid an American passport. Because of birthright citizenship, the young person is automatically considered a citizen upon birth.
After recuperating and acquiring the necessary documentation, the families return to their home countries, new American in tow. Now the child can serve as the “anchor” for his relatives’ chain migration. He can easily travel to or do business in the United States. While he is in every other respect a foreigner, he now has the golden ticket.
While I’m sure most of these American citizens raised overseas are lovely people, this group also includes the likes of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born al-Qaeda leader, who returned to Yemen with his parents as a child. Like other American citizen-members of al-Qaeda, he had close connections to relatives overseas and traveled back and forth to the United States throughout his life. His citizenship made reentry significantly easier for him, while endangering the rest of us. …
American citizen and al-Qaeda leader, Anwar al-Awlaki
These marginal characters with American passports all come to mind when we hear the plaintive chorus about “Americans” stranded in Afghanistan. Who are these Americans? Why are their families not in the media, pleading and crying to get their husbands and wives and children out of the country? Where are the human interest stories about their many contributions to our homeland?
There are many testimonies by American servicemen about their loyal translators, as well as pleas by Afghans living in the United States about family left behind (citizenship unspecified), but barely a peep from the well-wishers of Americans allegedly in harm’s way. As with many other things in our dishonest age, we often have to figure out the truth by looking for anomalies, in this case, the conspicuous absence of any details about the stranded Americans.
As recently as a week ago, the military said that it had no idea quite how many Americans were still in the country. This is why I am extremely skeptical of the estimate of 15,000 Americans left in Afghanistan. I assume that number is fake. There is no real tracking of Americans exiting the country, after all. We can also reasonably assume the Afghan government’s recordkeeping in this area was as inefficient and corrupt as everything else. We do know that the more rooted Americans among the contractors, embassy personnel, and military are accounted for and either already out or in the process of leaving.
There are nearly 100,000 people of Afghan descent living in America, almost all of whom arrived as refugees after 1979. For the most part, we know nothing about them. They have made almost no impact on our collective life and live in the shadows, legal documents notwithstanding. Some have returned to do business or visit family or because they found it hard to adapt to life in America. Whether they have been living in Afghanistan one, 10, or 20 years after acquiring legal status in America, no one knows.
The Biden Administration has had to twist itself in knots defending its policies on “left behind” Americans, because its leftist worldview makes no distinction between Americans that are native-born and the al-Awlakis of the world, even though these distinctions are necessary and important, particularly when those “paper” Americans voluntarily repatriate themselves to their ancestral homelands. …
The obligation to never leave an American behind is for those serving America, including our military and government personnel. It extended to our Libyan Ambassador, whom the Obama Administration left behind, to his fate. It extended to our P.O.W.s in Vietnam, for whom there was credible evidence some were left behind to facilitate the peace process. It does not extend to foreign-born dual citizens or American-born citizens of foreign extraction who have chosen to make a life for themselves in another country. …
The State Department estimates 9 million Americans live abroad.