Zimmerman Brief

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Between 1973 and 1975 hundreds of American exiles completed the five-year residency requirement for Canadian citizenship. While there was no requirement that a Landed Immigrant to Canada become a Canadian citizen, the expectation was an immigrant would seek citizenship as soon as possible. The question of citizenship was frequently raised by employers and business acquaintances. A high percentage of Toronto’s residents were immigrants and becoming a Canadian citizen was seen as a commitment to one’s new country, a sign that the immigrant was now a “New Canadian”. For the Americans exiles, who were often involved in politics, citizenship also meant the right to vote and participate in elections. For these and various other reasons hundreds of American exiles applied for and were given Canadian citizenship in the middle 1970s.

Some men who took Canadian citizenship learned from the US Passport Office that they had lost their US citizenship as a consequence of being naturalized in Canada. Officials in the US Passport Office often, apparently on their own initiative, denied passports to individuals they felt were insufficiently patriotic. The Passport Office tried to prevent American socialists and communists from traveling outside of the country by denying them passports whenever possisble. The Passport Office also stripped US citizenship from many dual nationals by sending them a letter called a Loss of Nationality letter. This letter was based on the fact that some countries do not recognize dual citizenship and require, as a condition for naturalization, renunciation of other nationalities. Until recently, the United States is one of those countries that required that new citizens renounce their previous citizenship. Canada also required renunciation of other nationalities until April 3, 1973. Between 1973 and 1980 there was much confusion about this issue and representatives of the US government encouraged many persons to assume that they lost their former citizenship when they took Canadian citizenship.

In 1975 both Randy Rauton and Philip Mullins were naturalized in Canada. Randy, who had come to Canada as a sixteen-year-old, had never registered for the military draft and had never been identified by the United States government as a draft dodger. He did not receive a Loss of Nationality letter. Philip and other exiles with outstanding warrants for their arrest received a Loss of Nationality letter from the US Department of State. The letter stated that “If no response is received from you within the thirty day period, your silence will be considered to mean that you intended to relinquish your United States citizenship by your action in becoming naturalized in Canada. In that event, a determination will be made that you voluntarily expatriated yourself under the provisions of Section 349(a) (1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act with the intention to relinquish your United States citizenship.”

Some exiles were content to lose their American citizenship and let the matter stand. Others didn’t give the letter the attention it warranted. Other men either never received the letter (because their address had changed) or failed to reply within the 30-day time frame. These men lost their US citizenship, at least for a time. Apparently very few actually replied to the letter. Among the few that did were David Zimmerman and Philip Mullins. Philip responded to the Uniform Loss of Nationality letter dated August 30, 1976 by writing to the US Consul from South River. That letter began a long relationship with the US Consul in Toronto, Mary Eileen Welch, by correspondence, telephone and personal visit that continued until Consul Welch was reassigned to Japan in 1979. Philip learned that, according to the Passport Office in Washington, DC, he had “made a formal renunciation of nationality before a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States in a foreign state”. Ms. Welch knew that this was not true but would only say that the “renunciation misunderstanding” had originated in Washington, DC. Both she and Philip knew that the “misunderstanding” had originated in the Passport Office. The “misunderstanding” may have had to do with Title 8, United States Code, Section 1182 (a) (22) that excluded persons from reentry into the United States if they left the US to avoid military service.

While talking to David Zimmerman, Philip learned that David became a Canadian citizen in December 1973 and that he too had received the Uniform Loss of Nationality letter. The American Civil Liberties Union had taken Dave’s case and submitted a memorandum of law arguing that Dave retained his United States citizenship. Dave gave Philip a copy of the memorandum and Philip sent it in May 1977 to Francis Rando who was the Chief of the Foreign and Special Operations Division of the Passport Office in Washington, DC. Thereafter Philip visited the Consul in Toronto every six months or so to inquire about his case. After each visit, the Consulate dutifully sent a telegram to the Passport Office inquiring into the status of the case. The reply that came back always said that the case was pending.

In December 1979 Philip met with the Vice-Consul at the US Consulate in Toronto. The Vice-Consul suggested that the long delay in resolving the issue was Philip’s fault because he contested the loss of nationality. She agreed to communicate once again with the Passport Office. It was not until April 1980 that the Consulate learned that a case in the US Supreme Court had been decided that worked in Philip’s favor. Based upon the court decision, the Passport Office was now disposed to issue a US passport to Philip. The Consul advised Philip to apply for a US passport quickly before the Passport Office could devise another pretext to deny him citizenship. Philip did so and was issued a US Passport valid for ten years. When that passport expired in 1990 Philip applied for another US Passport and waited six-months for his application to be processed and a replacement passport issued. Apparently by 2000 the Passport Office had lost interest in Vietnam-era draft dodgers. In the year 2000 Philip’s passport was renewed within the normal expected time frame of two or three weeks.

Dave Zimmerman’s affidavit

Dave had sworn an affidavit to support the memorandum written by the American Civil Liberties Union. Dave Zimmerman’s situation was very similar to that of Philip Mullins and his affidavit is reprinted below.



In re





David Richard Zimmerman, being duly sworn, deposes and says:

I was born as a citizen of the United States on July 7, 1947 at Summit, New Jersey. My father is a native born citizen of the United States and my mother is a naturalized American citizen.

In December 1973 I became a Canadian citizen by act of naturalization. I have never renounced by American citizenship. I have never intended to relinquish or abandon my United States citizenship.

My purpose in obtaining Canadian citizenship was to further my personal occupational endeavors.

I have never viewed Canada as a “foreign country.” The border is open and contiguous to the United States, the language (I do not live in a predominantly French-speaking province.) and culture of the two countries are substantially derived from their common history as English colonies.

Canada had never demanded anything of me that was inconsistent with my continuing American citizenship.

My continuing ties to the United States are as strong as ever, my family, childhood home and friends and my continuing vital interest in the well-being of my country of birth serve to focus my consciousness on America.

When I moved to Canada, in my mind it was not very different from moving to another state within the United States. In the latter case, I would need a new driver’s license, to inform myself of the local geography and political issues, find a job and home, and so forth. The only difference in my mind was that in moving to Canada I would also have to acquire a dual nationality in order to pursue occupational training.


David Richard Zimmerman

Sworn to before me

This 29th day of April, 1976.


Notary Public

Mrs. Vera Barcza

Notary Public

Judicial District of York

For Columbus Travel Service, Ltd.

Expiry Aug. 7, 1976

Philip Mullins' affidavit

In May 1977 Philip submitted five questionnaires and an affidavit to US Consul Welch. He stated that, “My purpose in obtaining Canadian citizenship was to further my personal occupational goals. As a partner in a small business in downtown Toronto, I feel pressure from Canadian business acquaintances and from officers of the Government of Canada to become a Canadian citizen. Canadians seem to resent immigrants who have lived in Canada for a number of years but who refuse to take Canadian citizenship. Canadians seem to think that acquiring Canadian citizenship is an expression of faith in the future of Canada while failure to do so is an admission that I am in Canada solely to get rich and then return to my home country. At any rate, when I applied for Canadian citizenship I certainly did not intend to relinquish my US citizenship."

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