Liberia: McGill Assures Diaspora Liberians Dual Citizenship Bill Passage

Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel McGill .

Liberians in the Diaspora felt instant relief as if a crushing burden had instantly disappeared when the Minister of State of Presidential Affairs Nathaniel F. McGill, assured them that the Dual Citizenship Bill, overwhelmingly voted upon by the House of Representatives, will be passed when the senators return from their April 2022 break. 

The Bill is now stalled in the Senate. 

Diaspora Liberians strongly continue to pin very high hopes on the repeated calls by President Weah on the Legislature to liberalize dual citizenship by repealing Chapter 22 of the 1973 Alien and Nationality Law to reflect the current global reality. Automatic loss of citizenship for naturalizing abroad as prescribed by Chapter 22 of the 1973 Aliens and Nationality Law was a global phenomenon at the height of the cold war when nationalism was at its highest peak, and when there was stiff competition among nations, which demanded unquestionable loyalty. 

Although the Supreme Court of Liberia has nullified the automatic loss of citizenship, Diaspora Liberians are fearful that a future government, unlike the Weah Administration, might still use Chapter 22 to witch hunt Diaspora Liberians.     

According to ALCOD, the provisions in Chapter 22 of 1973 Alien and Nationality Law forbidding dual citizenship, are very similar to those that were in the United States Immigration and Nationality Law. “But the United States has amended its Immigration and Nationality Act three times, immediately before and after the Cold War ended; in 1986, 1994, and 2000 in response to globalization.  “In today's globalized world, people move back and forth between countries.

"Even Russia now allows dual citizenship. Countries like South Africa, Israel, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ghana, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Slovenia that experienced high refugee populations allow their citizens or descendants to hold dual citizenships. Nearly all countries in Europe and most African nations allow dual citizenship,” ALCOD said in a statement. 

This was why the over 500 Liberians, who gathered on March 26, in the Presidential Ballroom of the Clarion Hotel near Philadelphia, burst into applause and gave Minister McGill a standing ovation when he assured that the Weah Administration will work with the legislature, including the Senate to pass the Dual Citizenship Bill after their April 2022 Easter Break. 

“Repealing Chapter 22 of the 1973 Aliens and Nationality Law to allow dual citizenship has remained a tumultuous journey with one step forward and two steps backward,” Mr. Emmanuel S. Wettee, ALCOD’s Eminent Chairman, said. 

But this issue has garnered strong attention under the current government as President Weah has remained the strongest advocate and champion of dual citizenship from day one of his presidency, evidenced by his first annual message and repeated statements in support of dual citizenship. 

According to reports, Minister McGill was beaming with smiles when the over 500 Liberians gave him a standing ovation and very long applause for his bold assurance that the Dual Citizenship Bill will be passed when the Senate returns from its 2022 Easter Break. When this is done, it is going to finally bring to rest the single most pressing issue confronting Diaspora Liberians at the moment. 

Earlier in his Inaugural Speech, the President of the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas, (ULAA), Mr. J. Shiwoh Kamara, called for the passage of the Dual Citizenship bill. 

When Minister McGill stood up to launch the Diaspora Fund, his opening statement was about dual citizenship, assuring the new ULAA President that the Weah-led government will not let him down as the Union forges a new partnership initiative with the government in addressing the issues facing Liberians including those in the Diaspora. 

President Kamara said citizenship for natural-born Liberians is endowed by God to hold and cherish forever, even if they take on additional citizenships. Minister McGill concurred that ‘once a Liberian, always a Liberian’.