Enable All Kenyans with Foreign Citizenship to Automatically Regain Kenya Citizenship.

Enable All Kenyans with Foreign Citizenship to Automatically Regain Kenya Citizenship.

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Paddy mwembu started this petition to President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta, the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Speaker of the Senate.

Petition to the Government of the Republic of Kenya to Automatically Enable All Kenyans with Citizenships of Other Nations to Regain their Kenyan Citizenship

By:  Paddy Mwembu, Los Angeles, California         

The Diaspora community hereby petitions the Government of the Republic of Kenya to immediately suspend, pending amendment or nullification, Section 10 of the Citizenship and Immigration Act, 2011 that requires Kenyans who acquired citizenship of other countries before 2010 to be regarded as foreigners. The same section of the constitution, to the contrary, provides automatic dual citizenship to those who acquired foreign citizenship after 2010. This double standard is discriminatory, unwarranted, and unfair as it classifies the Kenya Diaspora into two distinct categories. It applies two separate mirrors to the same group of Kenyans, and this essentially marginalizes one group while granting the other group special dual citizen privileges. This is not fair.

This petition is requesting the Government of Kenya of the Republic of Kenya (President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta, the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Speaker of the Senate, the Cabinet Secretary of Immigration, and the Director General at the Directorate of Immigration and Citizen Services) to ensure the entire Kenya Diaspora is viewed through a single mirror. It also seeks harmonization of all Kenyans in Diaspora into a single group of dual citizens regardless of the year that one attained foreign citizenship. The change will derive great benefits to Kenya and to the Kenya Diaspora.

Diaspora - Who and What Are We?

Even though we live and work abroad, we are Kenyans by birth; we are Wakenya halisi; we speak our mother tongues; we speak the national language (Kiswahili); we uphold our traditional norms and values; we remit billions of dollars each year to support the Kenyan economy; we are heavily invested in Kenya; we pay taxes to the Kenya Revenue Authority; we support the welfare of our loved ones at home; and we are a core pillar to the economic growth of the nation. Despite all these qualities, our motherland nation of Kenya treats a section of us as second-class citizens only because we acquired foreign citizenship before 2010. Sadly, and resulting from our natural origins, our host nations as well sees us as a breed that is different from their own and treats us in a way that suggests we do not fully belong. For example, in the United States of America, you are prohibited from running for President unless you are an American by birth. The children we have sired in the US can be Presidents, but we cannot. The question to the Kenya government then is:  Who and what are we and where does the Kenya Diaspora belong?

Evidently, the 2010 constitution has complicated the lives of Kenyans in Diaspora who attained foreign citizenship before year 2010. The backbone of this complexity is Section 10 of the Citizenship and Immigration Act, 2011 which enacted the law that gives the immigration department the power to group Kenya Diaspora into two separate baskets ([1] the Before 2010 Diaspora and [2] the After 2010 Diaspora). It enabled the Director General at the Directorate of Immigration and Citizenship Services to unequally and discriminatively treat those in the before 2010 basket differently. The government of Kenya should realize that taking citizenship of another country was not an easy decision but a path to survival for the many.

The Wealthy Before 2010 Diaspora

Ironically, the Before 2010 Diaspora holds enormous wealth. This group comprises of older Kenyans who are approaching or have attained retirement age and aspires to spend their retirement in the homeland. Over the last few years, the Before 2010 Diaspora has been consistently shifting its wealth to Kenya in job creating investments especially in the real estate sector. This transfer of wealth has boosted the economic growth of the Kenya and enormously contributed to employment.

In addition, the money remitted to Kenya mainly by the Before 2010 Diaspora remains the largest foreign exchange earner for the country. Despite this, the Before 2010 Diaspora has been and continues to be treated like a stepchild when it comes to dual citizenship. For 2021, the Central Bank of Kenya estimates remittances originating from Kenyans living abroad to exceed $3.5 billion. The CBK reporting in totality identifies the origin of the remittances as coming from Kenyans living abroad.

Discrimination through the Constitution

As Kenyans living and working abroad, we consider Section 10 of the Citizenship and Immigration Act, 2011 to be selfish, punitive, faulty, and devoid. It unfairly favors one Diaspora group while imposing undue hardships with reaching consequences to the other. One is bound to conclude Diaspora representation during negotiations of the 2010 constitution was absent, missing and/or ineffective. This in the view of Diaspora resulted to a meatless bone being tossed to them due to lack of proper representation. Time is now ripe to correct this discriminatory section of the law. Laws are dynamic and change with the times. That time has arrived.

Aspect of Equality

For one to regain the citizenship of Kenya, “Section 10 of the Kenya Citizenship and Immigration Act, 2011: – provides that a citizen by birth and who ceased to be a citizen of Kenya because he or she acquired the citizenship of another country may apply in prescribed manner to the cabinet secretary to regain Kenya Citizenship.” For the application to be processed, you must meet the following requirements and pay an application fee of Kshs.5,000.

1.     Duly completed application Form 1

2.     2 passport size photographs

3.     Copies of Kenyan ID and Passport

4.     Copy of the other country’s passport

5.     Copy of the other country naturalization certificate.

6.     Copy of birth certificate

The negotiators of the constitution endorsed the above requirements and allowed the immigration department to impose them on the Before 2010 Diaspora. Yes, it is the law but why create a wedge between the same people?

The Diaspora does not Renounced Kenya Citizenship

When acquiring foreign citizenship, the beneficiaries are not required renounce the citizenship of their countries of birth. The initial citizenship is not disrupted during the naturalization process. That is why, as Diaspora we identify ourselves as Kenyan Americans, Kenyan Australians, et cetera and not the reverse. This identifier is not accidental; it is a way of letting others know we are Kenyans first. Since we do not renounce, it is therefore, the government of Kenya which at its own accord, strips the before 2010 Diaspora its citizenship.

We are Kenyans and we want to be seen that way under the law.

 

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