Special Feature

Alienated Liberians: A Comment

The New Democrat article on Thursday, May 9, 2013 carried an article called, “500,000 Liberians Alienated”, caught my attention. After reading the article several times, I felt compelled to express my views on the issues raised.

The first issue is about “Section 20, 1 (b) of the Nationality Law” which they have called unconstitutional and discriminative against Liberian mothers in that it does not recognize children born outside Liberia to Liberian mothers as Liberian citizens but recognizes children born outside by Liberian fathers as Liberian citizen. I do know that a child born in the US is considered an American citizen until the age of 18 (eighteen). This is when that child can claim the country of their parents or remain a US citizen. And most time these children consider themselves US citizen. I hope you can understand why? This is the country they get to know all of their lives. Secondly, they hear parents telling them all the bad things about Liberia. It did Liberia no good especially during the civil crisis when television validated these parents’ claims.

I do not understand their argument. Are they claiming that the children born of Liberian fathers are citizens of Liberia and the US; as an example? If this is their claim, then what about the case of Liberia, a country, where we do not have dual citizen laws? I do not smell anything discriminative against these children of Liberian fathers and of Liberian mothers because they are United States citizens until the age of 18 (eighteen). And please don’t try to drag these children into your complex schemes.

The article again states that the group added that Chapter 22 of the 1973 Alien and Nationality Law is unjust and unconstitutional, regarding the loss of citizenship for natural born citizens. They also state that Chapter 22 of the Alien and National Law exist in contravention of the Liberian Constitution and international accords to which Liberia is a signatory.

I don’t see how our Alien and Nationality Law is unjust and unconstitutional. They chose to not be Liberians anymore; and this is what is meant by seeking to be a citizen of another country. No one ever placed a gun at each of them head and told them that you must be a citizen of our country or else we will blow your head. That situation never happened or existed. They voluntarily and independently decided to give up their Liberian citizenship for their current nationality at their own choosing. I don’t see how our law is unjust and unconstitutional to them when it was your decision. You decided to never be a part of us (Liberians). This is our law. This is what it says. What you do have here are friends and families. You chose no longer be a Liberian – DON’T TRY TO HAVE IT BOTH WAYS!!!

The point in their story is that they are being denied to buy land here. This is not true. Stop this manipulating game. Are they aware that our constitution states clearly that only people of Negro blood that can buy land? If they truly want to buy land, they can do it. I am aware of many former Liberians that have bought lands.

The article also states “ To deprive a person of a constitutional right, especially the inherent rights to citizenship, the group argued, the state must show a compelling national interest to be protected.” The article continued where it states”Members of the group said they see no compelling national interest of the state to uniformly and automatically strip hundreds of thousands of Liberians – who fled the 14 years of civil war – of their citizenship and consequently debar them from owning land or other real

estate in their native home because of the act to naturalize abroad.” Do these people understand what is meant by NATURALIZATION? Also, where they strip of their citizenship and by whom? Look, you can’t have it both ways. My advice is simple. You have a choice. If you truly want to be a Liberian again, give up your current citizenship?

After living in the USA for a little under 30 years, on the average, most friends had given up on Liberia. I have been in heated debates on the need to be a US citizen – It’s pro and con. And I believe the advantages to them out weight being a Liberian. I have no issue with it. It is your right and your decision. But to read about them being alienated is an embarrassment.

And this mess being spread around that they needed to be a US to get good job and other benefits are not true. Again, I held Permanent Residence status for most of my time in the US. I worked for a state government after college until I decided to come home. I was paid well with very good benefits including a car to enable me to serve the people of the state. I know of many Liberians like me who chose to remain a Liberian and they do have good jobs and benefits.

Their claim that dual citizenship will maximize opportunities for Liberians living outside Liberia to obtain the necessary resources – education, knowledge, skills and wealth – to assist in developing a working middle class for Liberians that can serve as an engine for national reconstruction is unrealistic to me. I don’t see how being a dual citizen will be the only catalyst for you to contribute to the reconstruction of Liberia. What Liberia need is given back to your roots. And the only way to give back is by being a dual citizen; I don’t see any good intentions. It looks more selfish to me. What Liberia truly needs is prioritizing Liberians. Helping those that want to be Liberians the opportunity to contribute and develop their skills. Battling corruption and creating an enabling environment for us here to contribute and create wealth.

I am John Kpehe Boimah, PE. I am civil engineer who specialized in highway engineering. For twenty years I was an employee of the state of Michigan. I have always said in my many heated arguments that if the good Lord wanted me to be a citizen of any other country but Liberia, I should have been born in that country. God wanted to be a Liberian. He has a reason and a purpose. I will pursue that as a Liberian until the day HE calls me home.

Lastly, I have a problem with the word dual in Dual Citizen. Did God really intended for us to be citizen of two countries? I do not think so. It is mankind greed to have it both ways. And this is what this is all about. Thank you for reading how I feel about all this unnecessary noise. We have more to worry about us Liberians-like educating our children and youths for tomorrow by investing in them, ensuring access to the best educational materials and tools.

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