11 Replies Latest reply on Jun 4, 2021 3:31 PM by Tracy Skrabut

    What would stop a naturalization?

    Joy Metcalf Wayfarer

      According to his AR2 (green card) application in 1944, my paternal grandfather, Francis Stephen Metcalf, arrived in Boston (the last time) in 1902 on the SS Lancaster as a crew member (Seaman).  He first arrived as a child in 1880.

       

      1920 Census says Frank S Metcalf immigrated in 1878 and as of 1920 had submitted papers for naturalization. 1930 census said he was naturalized and immigrated in 1890. 1940 census said he was an alien (AL), not naturalized, and then in 1944 he applied for a green card.  TI've checked and double checked the census records, and they are correct: the same man, married to the same woman, with the same children.  Either he was never naturalized and the 1930 census was wrong, or he was naturalized and he lost his citizenship.  I'm completely baffled.

        • Re: What would stop a naturalization?
          Tracy Skrabut Adventurer

          Dear Joy,

           

          Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!

           

          In regards to the above referenced case, the issuance of a green card would indicate that the agency which was then issuing them, Immigration and Naturalization Service, did not show proof of naturalization for Mr. Metcalf.  I have conducted a search of our records here in Boston and have also retuned no record of naturalization.

           

          In regards to the record of citizenship in the 1930 census, while we cannot be sure, of course, there are a number of factors which could be at play here.

           

          First, it was sometimes the case that the person wishing to receive citizenship was not entirely clear on the process of applying for citizenship, that is, that it was a two step process. The process, as it was then, was that a Declaration must be filed, and then, after the court appointed waiting period, the applicant would then return to court to file the Petition which, once completed would grant citizenship. If this was not clear, it might be that they might believe that having filled out the Declaration, they had been naturalized, that the process was complete and they would convey that to the enumerator.

           

          The second possibility, is that the person reporting to the enumerator was misinformed in regards to the citizenship status of the person being asked about. There was no set person to whom the enumerator would speak to when they arrived at the household (so it was not a guarantee that they were actually speaking to the head of household, or the person claiming citizenship), nor was there fact-checking done at the time of enumeration or afterward. So if erroneous information was given to them, it would be reflected in the census record.

           

          Finally, it is the case that granted petitions were sometimes revoked and citizenship withdrawn. However, in my experience with our records, in all of the cases I have seen, the record does still exist in the court documents, and will also include paperwork showing that the petition was denied and citizenship revoked, along with the date and the reason for the revocation.

           

          I hope this is helpful in answering your question.

           

          Tracy

          1 person found this helpful
            • Re: What would stop a naturalization?
              Joy Metcalf Wayfarer

              Thank you so much for all the detail!  If he actually was naturalized and then it was revoked, how would I find that information?  I suspect, actually, that it's the first possibility.  He was injured in a dray accident (he was a teamster) and permanently crippled when my father was a young child.  It could be that he never filed the followup papers.

               

              If he actually thought he was naturalized, how would he have found out differently?

                • Re: What would stop a naturalization?
                  Tracy Skrabut Adventurer

                  Hi Joy,

                   

                  Given the time period, if he did believe he was naturalized but was not, the most likely scenario was that he might have tried to register to vote, and upon presenting his proof of citizenship, he was informed that he had not completed the process.

                   

                  The best place to get to the bottom of the situation would be to contact US Citizenship and Immigration Service, the agency which replaced/superseded Immigration and Naturalization Service. As they are the sole final arbiters of all matters related to citizenship and naturalization, they would be best able to assist you, as they would have his complete file. An Index search for his records would be the best place to start.

                   

                  https://www.uscis.gov/records/genealogy

                   

                  Tracy

                • Re: What would stop a naturalization?
                  Donna Westling Newbie

                  It is possible that the census enumerator made a mistake in 1940, writing "alien" instead of "Naturalized."

                  Mistakes are made. For instance, look again at their family in the 1920 census. He is listed as "Pa" which stands for papers submitted for Naturalization. Look below him. His wife is listed as "Al", which stands for Alien.

                  But she was born in MA! Her father was born in England, and her mother in MA.

                  I know that census takers sometimes were in a hurry, and enumerated people IN the home and filled out the other details after they had left. (I went to graduate school in Demography and have worked with census data a LOT!)

                   

                  The second point I wanted to make is with regard to immigration status when a foreigner marries a citizen. I have no idea how things worked in the 1920s-40s, but I can tell you how things have worked for my friend's son and daughter in law in the past three years:

                  Her son married a girl from Paraguay a few years ago. She came in on a fiancée visa, valid for two years, and had a limited amount of time in which to apply for her green card--before her visa expired. The last time we spoke, she told me that she let time get away from her and she didn't apply for her green card in time.

                  This means that she is now in the US illegally, and is in a sticky wicket.

                   

                  I know that your paternal grandfather didn't have a fiancé green card, but I imagine that there were fairly strict laws in terms of deadlines for getting papers in order for the various stages of naturalization--petition, green card, etc.

                  It's possible that he missed a step or did not complete one on time, i.e. did not actually have citizenship revoked, but had to go back to square one and start over.

                  If you have any further questions, please reply.

                    • Re: What would stop a naturalization?
                      Joy Metcalf Wayfarer

                      "His wife is listed as "Al", which stands for Alien. But she was born in MA! Her father was born in England, and her mother in MA"

                       

                      Actually, there was a time, surprisingly, that women who married aliens lost their citizenship.  WRT my grandfather, he did get an AR-2 (green card) in 1944, so he was definitely not naturalized.  I'm not sure how he found that out if he thought he actually was a citizen.  I'm going to do more digging. I wish I'd asked my father, my aunt, my three uncles before they died.  Genealogy wasn't on my mind enough, sadly.

                      • Re: What would stop a naturalization?
                        Tracy Skrabut Adventurer

                        Dear Joy and Donna,

                         

                        The citizenship status of a female spouse was a tricky subject prior to 1922, when women received the right to vote.

                         

                        The Expatriation Act of 1907 stated that "any American woman who marries a foreigner shall take the nationality of her husband." Upon marriage, regardless of where the couple resided, the woman’s legal identity morphed into her husband’s. So, any American born woman, who married a foreign national took on the nationality of her husband. This Act was not repealed until the Cable Act of September 22, 1922. After this point, the American-born woman, in order to regain her citizenship would need to apply for citizenship following the same process as any other foreign national.

                         

                        Here are a couple of interesting article about this:

                         

                        When Saying “I Do” Meant Giving Up Your U.S. CITIZENSHIP

                         

                        https://www.archives.gov/files/publications/prologue/2014/spring/citizenship.pdf

                         

                        “Any woman who is now or may hereafter be married . . .” Women and Naturalization, ca. 1802–1940

                         

                        https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/1998/summer/women-and-naturalization-1.html

                         

                        In addition, the abbreviation 'Pa' (understood to be papers summited) in census records, generally, refers only to the filing of the Declaration of Intention. If the person had completed the Petition for Naturalization, and citizenship had been granted, the notation would be 'Na' for naturalized.

                          • Re: What would stop a naturalization?
                            Joy Metcalf Wayfarer

                            It looks like I'm going to have to look for naturalization papers for my grandmother, too.  Yet, every one of their children was considered a U.S. citizen.  They registered to vote on the basis of a birth certificate, and at least 2, possibly 3 of the boys were drafted.

                             

                            The Expatriation Act and the Cable Act are two great examples of how our congresscritters don't always think through the legislation they want to pass.

                      • Re: What would stop a naturalization?
                        Tamie Dehler Wayfarer

                        There's another scenario that could have taken place.  You say that he came over as a child in 1880.  It's possible that his father completed the naturalization process for the whole family, including the underage children.  I have seen that occur for one of my own relatives.  They came over as a family, and some 5 or so years later the father completed the naturalization process and it included all members of the family.  They were all listed on the final documents. 

                          • Re: What would stop a naturalization?
                            Joy Metcalf Wayfarer

                            In that case, why would he have had to a) apply for naturalization and b) get a green card later?

                             

                            Also, from what I know, he stayed with aunts in Chelsea, Massachusetts (whose last name I don't know), and as an adult, he refused to have anything to do with his family.  A notice was placed in a newspaper sometime between 1940 and 1944 asking him to respond to solicitors in England, but he refkused to do so.  I also have not been able to find either him, his mother, or his father in England's records when I search the area listed as his birth place in his naturalization application.

                              • Re: What would stop a naturalization?
                                Tracy Skrabut Adventurer

                                Joy,

                                 

                                While children did derive citizenship from their parents, if the parent naturalized, this was only the case for children who were minors at the time that the parent naturalized. As well, at least in our records, very few if any of our records (at least here in Boston) prior to 1906 record the name of the spouse or children. So in order to claim citizenship through a parent, the spouse or child would have had to present either the father's proof of citizenship and a record or birth, or the proof of citizenship and proof of marriage Either of those cases would require contact with the child/spouse and the father/husband. If it was not possible to present the father/spouses's citizenship record, or have the father/spouse vouch for his family, there was no clear way to prove derivative citizenship.

                                 

                                Tracy

                            • Re: What would stop a naturalization?
                              Tracy Skrabut Adventurer

                              I think that would be a logical next step. If Joseph had not naturalized by September 22, 1922, his wife would have had to naturalize on her own if she wished to become a citizen.

                               

                              And yes, all children born in the US received citizenship via birthright citizenship, by rights of being born on US soil. This was granted regardless of the naturalization status of their parents.

                               

                              As an addition, being drafted was not proof of citizenship status, if you encounter this in other research. All male legal residents of the US, American and foreign born were expected to register for the draft. I have actually seen a number of petitions for naturalization where the petition was denied because the alien had never registered for the draft.

                               

                              Interestingly enough, many foreign born veterans could streamline their naturalization process by providing proof that they had served in the military. Usually this was US military service, but there are a number of records I have seen of men who served in the Italian military in WW1, after their alliance with the US, who use that service to show allegiance. Sometimes it allowed them to skip the Declaration phase, at other times they did not have to have the full residency requirement in years. There were even some cases where INS would actually go to the military bases and perform the ceremonies there, offering citizenship to any of the servicemen who wanted it. In most of those cases, you would locate those documents by searching in the records of the court in the area where the new citizen lived. So someone from say, New Haven, CT, might be serving and receive their citizenship at a base in Massachusetts, for example, but have the document sent to the District Court of New Haven for preservation.

                               

                              Genealogy can be an utterly frustrating but imminently revelatory experience. It takes a true detective's spirit.