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United States Department of State / Foreign relations of the United States diplomatic papers, 1937. The British Commonwealth, Europe, Near East and Africa

Syria and the Lebanon,   pp. 923-938 PDF (6.0 MB)

Page 925

General headed: "Application for acquisition of Syrian or Lebanese
nationality." An examination of this form demonstrates beyond
doubt that any American citizen who executes this document would,
in point of fact, be renouncing his American citizenship.
  It is evident therefore that American citizens, of either Syrian or
Lebanese origin, are faced with one of two alternatives, either to
renounce their American citizenship; or to be treated as Turkish sub-
jects with all the consequent disadvantages thereof. In the latter
case for instance, I am reliably informed, that under the Turkish law
no person of a nationality or citizenship other than Turkish can inherit
from a Turkish subject. Assume that a naturalized American citizen
who had obtained his naturalization without the Firman required by
the Sublime Porte prior to the occupation of the territory in the
World War and who did not elect his nationality, pursuant to the
notice above referred to, should die in the United States owning real
estate and personal property in Syria or Lebanon, he would be deemed
a Turkish subject and any descendents born in the United States,
hence native Americans, would not be entitled to inherit such property.
Many other disabilities of a similar nature would also ensue.
  This matter has caused considerable agitation amongst the people
affected thereby, as it seems clear that they are impaled on either
horn of the dilemma, that is to say, that they must renounce their
American citizenship or in the alternative, be deemed Turkish subjects.
  It would seem that the only way in which this dubious situation may
be cleared up is, by the Department of State taking up for negotia-
tion, a Treaty between the Turkish, French and our Government,
having for its object the recognition as American citizens of all per-
sons of Lebanese and Syrian origin who have become naturalized
American citizens without the necessity of making any declaration,
such as is referred to hereinabove.
  The interests of the persons affected are vital and their number are
sufficient to justify our Government in taking whatever steps may be
necessary to preserve their citizenship status.
  I am requested to advise you, Honorable Sir, that this is a burning
question with the several hundred thousand American citizens of
Lebanese and Syrian origin and that they are prepared to support
any move that might be deemed advisable to clear up their status,
either through the medium of petitions, publicity or in any other man-
ner that our Government may indicate.
  It is respectfully requested that this serious matter be given the
earliest consideration and the writer, together with the Arabic press
and many representative societies stand ready to do all in our power
to assist in the premises.
  An early reply will be appreciated.
  Respectfully yours,                            GEORGE A. FERRIS

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