Mr. Scruggs to Mr. Frelinghuysen.
Bogota, January 30, 1885. (Received May 26.)
Sir: I transmit herewith (in copy and translation) an official publication containing an extract from the Colombian constitution, relative to the question of nationality.
Whilst the Colombian Government thus practically ignores the test of nationality by the nationality of the parent, and adopts that by place of birth, it makes actual domicile the real test of Colombian citizenship. So that, in nearly every instance, a person must reside in the country in order to be a Colombian citizen. This, of course, involves possible conflict with the laws of the United States, and with those of many European countries.
The laws of England, like our own, lay chief stress upon the place of birth; though children born abroad of British parents, are declared by certain imperial acts to be British subjects.
By the laws of France, the father’s nationality usually determines, though not absolutely, that of the child.
Our statute of February 10, 1855, formally commits us to this last named test of nationality, with the qualification, however, that the father must have resided in the United States, so that the privilege usually expires with the first generation.
I apprehend, in view of the Colombian fundamental law referred to, that persons born in this country whose fathers were at the time citizens of the United States, have a dual nationality; and that, while in Colombia, their Colombian nationality must prevail.
In accordance with this principle therefore, and until instructed otherwise by the Department, I shall, if applied to, grant passports to such, persons; but with the express caution that such passport will not necessarily confer the right to protection by the United States Government, as against that of Colombia, while the holder remains in Colombia.
My British and French colleagues assure me that they will adopt the same course.
I have, &c.,