Re: Stateless Persons

Juan Vaquer Jr. (
Sun, 28 Dec 1997 23:31:43 -0700

John E Westerlage wrote:

> Does anyone have any ideas on how one goes about becoming a stateless
> person?

An American citizen may renounce his citizenship and remain in American
territory.Much to the chagrin of the current pro-statehood Governor of Puerto
Rico, some Puerto Ricans have officially renounced their American
citizenship. Mr. Juan Mari-Bras, an attorney and veteran advocate of Puerto
Rican independence, succeed in obtaining an Acknowledgment of Renounced
Citizenship from the American Department of State plus a decision from the
Puerto Rican Supreme Court decision granting him voting rights in island
elections, despite the fact that the independentist leader is currently
"stateless" (lacking the only official citizenship available to Puerto
Ricans) in his own land. Since citizenship is a function of sovereignty, and
Puerto Rico is not a sovereign polity, Mr. Mari-Bras's claim to "Puerto Rican
citizenship" are more of an aspiration than a legal reality.

The Jones Act of 1917 imposed/granted American citizenship to Puerto Ricans
(just in time for World War I) and allowed Puerto Ricans of legal age who
wished to reject such citizenship to do so at the time and remain "Puerto
Rican citizens", a legal construct established in the 1898-1899 Treaty of
Paris between Spain and the United States and confirmed in the Foraker Act of
1900. Again, since Puerto Rico hasn't been a sovereign country since
Spaniards settled and "pacified" the island in the early 1500's (with the
exception of a brief autonomous regime in the first five months prior to the
1898 American invasion), such citizenship is legally bogus.

The funniest part is that, short of keeping a list of Renegades, there's no
way an uninformed U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services agent would be
able to keep Puerto Ricans "citizens" from re-entering American territory at
any time, since all they need to produce is a birth certificate and voila!
unarguable instant rights to re-enter the country.

> Is statelessness merely a lack of any citizenship? Or is it an officially
> recognized status?

Given the above cases, I'd say that statelessness might indeed be an
officially recognized status within the United States.

> Are there (m)any legal or tax consequences of becoming stateless?

The United States Internal Revenue Service (the dread IRS) will collect taxes
even on Americans abroad and on any persons or legal entities generating
income within this country, regardless of their immigration or naturalization

I've heard that the IRS is the only tax collection agency in the world to
pursue such a relentless policy.

I trust this information is helpful.

Juan Vaquer Jr.