September 4, 2011: Tutti vogliono essere italiani

Medifast Status: Day 125, Down ~53lbs

Dominica got up this morning, walked outside and immediately declared that we were going to all go out onto the back patio and enjoy the weather.  The heat wave that we have been living under for two months has finally broken and it is actually below one hundred degrees today.  Amazing.

We spent all morning sitting out on the patio.  It was so awesome to have fresh air again.  This is the first time that it has been cool enough to spend any time outside since we purchased our outdoor furniture.  We took our Kindles out and Luciana thought that it was great getting to sit on the couch outside in her Bumbo next to Dominica and Liesl had a great time playing.  She likes being outside in general.

We read for hours.  It has been forever since we did anything like this.  We really are fresh air, outdoors kind of people but the last two months’ heat has just been so oppressive.

Every so often I would run into the house to look something up online.  We are doing tons and tons of research on what we are going to want to do while in Europe next year.

I was doing some research on immigration laws and long term stays in Italy when I stumbled across the doctrine of jure sanguinis or “the right of blood” by which any Italian descended from another Italian is an Italian.  Living in the United States where we use lus soli where we determine nationality by the location, not the heritage, of the individual.  To us, as Americans, we care about where you were, not who you are.  This demonstrates our general xenophobic tendencies as a nation.  Americans often remark about how American customs officially treat you with contempt for having left the county and daring to return.  Everyone says what they are thinking: “If you don’t want to be in American, why did you come back.”

Other countries don’t necessarily see the world in those terms.  It is perfectly acceptable and accepted for an Italian, apparently, to come and go from their home country.  They are Italian by the nature of being of the race of Italians and being away from Italian soil at the time of their birth in no way detracts from that.

So in learning about this and assuming that Dominica was unaware of it, I asked her about the naturalization process that her Italian family would have gone through coming to the United States.  She wasn’t sure but when I started explaining how the jure sanguinis worked she started to wonder if it wasn’t possible that she might qualify under that.  So the research began.

We called Dominica’s parents and got what information they had.  And we joined Ancestry online and did some research.  Pretty quickly we were able to find original ship records that gave us information about her great grandfather arriving at Ellis Island from Sicily.  Then we tracked down the 1930s census records and found her family listed there, still living in Frankfort, in 1930.  On that paperwork we could see her five year old grandfather listed and her great grandparents listed as non-English speaking aliens.  That’s what we needed.  The overlap of citizenship needed to demonstrate jur sanguinis.  We will need a lot more paperwork by the time that we are done but we have the really important parts now – at least we have seen copies of them.

So at this point, Dominica and I having both poured over all of the documentation that we can find online and having already grabbed a copy of the initial process paperwork from the Italian consulate in Houston, it would appear that to the best of our knowledge that Dominica, her dad, her grandfather, her siblings, all of our kids and more are all now and always have been Italian citizens!  Take a moment to let that sink in.

This is pretty big news if it is true.  It is so big that we really can’t believe that it might actually be true.  The ramifications of it are immense.  This is not really a possibility that we had ever imagined.  Dual citizenship is a massively big deal.  Really hard to define just how big it is.  And this is not simply Italian citizenship but citizenship in the European Union as well.

So what does citizenship in Italy mean?  Here are a few of things that we thought of in the first hour or so as the shock began to wear off: we could move to Italy, we could move to anywhere in the European Unions (basically all of Europe except Switzerland), no wait – Switzerland too as they participate in the work/live group with Europe, we can work anywhere in Europe, we can buy property in Europe, we can invest in Europe, we can get those credit cards with the chip and the pin, we get free healthcare in Italy, our children get to go to Italian state universities for free, we can travel anywhere in Europe without worrying about the ninety day US non-visa visitor’s limit, we can start a business in Europe, we can make fun of uni-citizenship people – and we can do all of this without giving up our current access and freedoms from the United States.  This is really, really big.  It is going to take a long time before we really have a good idea as to how this will impact us and we will never really know to what degree it might impact Liesl and Luciana.  Boy are we glad that we thought ahead to give them European names now!

We also researched and found that it looks like I, being married to an Italian citizen for over three years, qualify for my Italian citizenship as well.  For me it will be a lot more work.  Dominica just has to prove that she is an Italian.  I have to convince the government to let me have the same citizenship as the rest of my family.  But the generally policy is that after having been married for three years while living outside of the country that that is good enough.  We hope, anyway. There are some potential roadblocks and I cannot do anything about it until her paperwork is all done so it might be quite a while before I can even start.

Our first step is to get a preliminary form filled out and sent in to the Italian consulate.  We have the form and much of the information.  Since tomorrow is a holiday we hope that we will be able to submit it on Tuesday and get the ball rolling.

It’s really hard to describe in a blog post how excited and wary we are at this point.  Today is one of those days that could be completely meaningless or a total turning point in our lives.

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