Rep. Bility Calls For Amendment of 2022 Aliens and Nationality Law; Wants Dual Citizens Be Elected

By: Jeremiah Sackie Cooper

Capitol Hill: Nimba County District #7 Representative Musa Bility wants an omnibus bill passed to amend the 2022 Aliens and Nationality Law of Liberia to allow dual citizens to be elected.

Rep. Bility, in a communication sent to the House of Representatives, called for the submission of omnibus bills that would revise and codify all of the laws relating to immigration, naturalization, and nationality.

“The Bill undertakes a general revision and modernization of these laws that is needed and long overdue, particularly concerning citizenship, immigration and naturalization and seeks to provide a policy that is in tune with the current global realities that takes us a step forward, especially given the crying need for reform in this area”, he said.

According to the Nimba County lawmaker, in recent years, Liberia’s citizenship, immigration and naturalization policy has become a matter of major national concern with questions about its effect on the national and cultural fabric.

He stressed that it is important that Liberians who have taken on the citizenship of other countries be allowed to serve their country as elected officials.

The Nimba County Lawmaker disclosed that the inalienable rights of natural-born Liberians to become citizens in their country have been denied.

According to the lawmaker, it is now time that the Country recognize the conditions and necessities that compelled citizens in the diaspora to seek citizenship elsewhere in the world and not subject them and their children to discriminatory practices.

“We must adequately deal with the provisions of our existing laws related to the qualifications of aliens and immigrants for admission and the administration of the laws. We must not make it difficult for people of character and investors to enter and become resident aliens of our country. We must instead remove the looming threat of surreptitious deportation at any moment that makes Resident Aliens frightened to invest and/or cause capital flight“, he maintained.

Representative Musa Bility who is the Chair of the House Committee on National Security said that the bill seeks to recognize the great domestic and international significance of Liberian citizenship, immigration and naturalization policies, and takes a step to improve existing laws to alleviate the perpetuation of division that hamper the efforts toward unification.

He believed that this will foster economic and social growth, and is critical to the responsibilities of moral leadership in the struggle for unity.

Bility said it strikes down the marks of prejudice and removes repressive measures directed at all who seek a new and better life within the borders of Liberia.

He emphasized, “The Bill also addresses the need to remove archaic and colonial references to Black people and women”.

Today, it seems that we are still “protecting” ourselves, as we were in 1876 during the colonial and slave period, against being flooded by immigrants and even diaspora Liberians. However, this period has since ended and we do not need to be protected in this manner. On the contrary, we need to open our doors and welcome citizenship, immigration and naturalization as a means to economic development and growth. In no other area of our nation’s laws are we so encumbered by the dead hand of the past, as we are in our citizenship, immigration, and naturalization policies”, he maintained.

“Now is the time to start shaking off the dead weight of past mistakes – the time to develop laws on citizenship, immigration and naturalization that are a true reflection of the ideals we proclaim to stand for. In the last few years, we began this work with the enactment of the dual citizenship clause. This was a major win for Liberia. We must continue the work to further create laws not to keep people out, but to bring qualified and productive people in and find better ways to meet the immigration challenges of the 1870s that are so prevalent in our Alien and Nationality Law”, the lawmaker stated.

The Nimba County lawmaker furthered “The bill is intended to decrease the repressive and inhumane aspects of immigration procedures by removing restrictions on the citizenship of natural born Liberians and their children, removing unnecessary barriers to immigration and naturalization, and proposing alternative immigration and migration requirements”.

In July 2022, former president George Weah signed an amendment to the Aliens and Nationality Law allowing for dual citizenship.

This allows those who had previously lost citizenship due to obtaining citizenship in other countries to reclaim their Liberian citizenship.

However, Article 4 of the amendment law states that Liberians who hold dual citizenship will be ineligible to hold elected public offices, and any such person interested in holding an elected public office must renounce the citizenship of the other country at least a year before making an application to the National Election Commission.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has mandated its committee on Judiciary, Labor, Good Governance and Foreign Affairs to review a bill seeking to amend the Liberia Aliens and Nationality Law of 2022.

The Committee is expected to report to the plenary of the House Representatives upon the completion of the instrument.

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