HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — As a third-class U.S. citizen, I’m compelled to respond to Dylan Kioshi’s recent letter decrying the oft-repeated shibboleth of the "'second-class' status of territorial citizens."
Having been born in the states, when I die, my estate will be liable for federal estate tax on all assets anywhere in the world (IRC 2208). But if I were born here, assets held on Guam or anywhere else in the world, except the states, would not be taxed.
Being a person of Northern Marianas descent is an even more beneficial class of U.S. citizen. The tax advantage plus ownership of realty in fee simple in the islands is attainable only by those of Northern Marianas descent, but not those of us born in the states.
Back home, there are Guam laws on the books for registration in the Guam Decolonization Registry and eligibility for leases in the Chamorro Trust which are available only to those who became U.S. citizens by virtue of the authority and enactment of the Organic Act of Guam or descendants of such persons, but not those of us who were just born in the states.
All three classes of U.S. citizen can vote in every election held where they live, run for office, serve on juries, etc., and enjoy the full panoply of the rights of citizenship. And if a local resident moves from Guam to a foreign country, never intending to return, the former resident can still vote absentee on Guam because of the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act The Congressional Research Office has even held that one born on Guam is a native-born citizen and eligible to be president of the U.S.
Dylan, like all of us, has been bombarded with numerous myths sounding in identity politics e.g.: We are second-class citizens; we are statutory, not constitutional, citizens; because of the Insular Cases we can’t vote for president; there are only three options for decolonization of the island; and that GovGuam is working toward decolonization.
Even the Guam Daily Post published a myth. On Aug. 9 last year, Manny Cruz reported:
“After World War II, in 1946, Filipino laborers arrived in Guam to construct U.S. military bases, and Camp Roxas was established. ….
“… in 1950, the Organic Act of Guam passed, granting American citizenship to all peoples residing in Guam at the time.”
"… 'I think the tensions many CHamorus had against Filipinos were valid. Camp Roxas, for one, was meant to be a calculated threat against CHamoru self-determination…' (Josephine Faith)” Ong said.
The passage of the Organic Act made no one at Camp Roxas a citizen. A person had to be born here before 1950 to qualify — just being here wasn’t enough. And in the 1950s Camp Roxas was a “calculated threat” against CHamoru self-determination! Wow!
Given that we live in a time when serious discussions concerning nationalism, statehood, self-determination, patriotism, national defense, self-government, racism, decolonization, home rule, hegemony, etc., require serious discussion, none of us is well-served by mythic distractions grounded in identity politics.
I confess that my third-class U.S. citizenship and the aforesaid distractions bother me not a whit. I’m happy to be a citizen of the greatest country ever, no matter what class of citizenship is created by our national or local government. The right to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, of religion and to petition the government for redress of grievances plus the freedom that is only available under the rule of law are available in America like no other place.
One of the luckiest days of my life occurred 55 years ago when a GovGuam recruiter invited me to come here to be a schoolteacher. Because of that luckiest of days, I have been able to spend the bulk of my life residing at the epicenter of CHamoru culture, custom and tradition under a flag that I cherish in a society that I will continue to celebrate 'til it’s time for my final confession.
Robert Klitzkie is a former Guam senator.