1635: THE DREESON INCIDENT – Snippet 62:



            "I suppose it’s consular work, in a way." Wes Jenkins looked a little dubious. "The mission of the Bureau of Consular Affairs, the way it’s written, is to assist SoTF citizens when they run into difficulties outside our borders. Jarvis Beasley’s wife is clearly inside our borders."


            "Physically," Henry Dreeson said. "She’s here, all right."


            "Jurisdictionally, then," Wes went on imperturbably, "the first question to resolve is whether or not Hedy Beasley’s problems count as being outside our borders. Physically, as you say, she is here. Geographically, her home village is certainly inside the borders of the SoTF. Now. On the other hand, when she was born in that same place, she was undoubtedly born as a citizen of Saxony. Then."


            "Has she ever been naturalized?" Noelle Stull asked.


            "Naturalized?" Wes blinked.


            "Yeah, like we set up for refugees coming into the RoF, way back when."


            "So long ago," Dreeson said. "Not yet four years and it’s ‘way back when.’"


            "No, no, pay attention." Noelle jumped up. "I’m thinking, guys. I was working for Deborah Trout back then. I know we’ve sort of lost focus on it since, what with annexations, like up around Remda, and places like Badenburg voluntarily joining, and then the whole Franconia thing. The only naturalizations I see listed in the Times these days are real foreigners."


            "And a ‘real’ foreigner is…?" Eddie Junker raised an eyebrow.


            "Drat it, Eddie. Behave yourself. You know what I mean. Walloons or Poles or -"


            "Hungarians." He gave her a teasing smile.


            "Not people from the USE. Definitely not people from the rest of the SoTF. But Saxony‘s backed out of being part of the USE. That means that if John George’s delegate is right, and Hedy’s actually Saxon, not just born in a piece of the SoTF south of the Thüringerwald where Saxony has administrative jurisdiction, I mean -"


            Noelle stopped before her grammar got into a hopeless tangle; then started fresh. "If those old laws are still on the books…" She looked at Wes. "Those old laws are still on the books, aren’t they? Nobody’s taken them off in a fit of efficiency?"


            "As far as I know, they’re still on the books." Wes picked up the phone. "Let me check with Maurice Tito."


            "Well, if they are, let’s just naturalize her. Problem solved. Or, at least, we turn her into ‘entirely our problem’ instead of ‘partly their problem.’ Don’t we? What do you think, Mr. Dreeson. Saxony couldn’t extradite a citizen of West Virginia County, could it?"


            "Those naturalization laws were written when the NUS was a country of its own. They may still be on the books, but… I’m not actually sure that a county can naturalize somebody."


            "Then why are we still naturalizing Walloons, and Poles, and -"


            "- and the occasional passing Hungarian?" Eddie raised up the arm with a cast on it. "Hey, no fair attacking an injured man. Injured in the course of duty, no less. Noelle!"


            Wes looked up from the phone. "Hey, kids. Cut that out. This is a government office and you are both civil servants. Not a couple of first graders squabbling on the playground."




            "I thought it was a fair enough question. Why are we still doing naturalizations, Maurice?" Henry Dreeson picked up a cup of coffee. "Thanks, Missy."


            "The sheer force of inertia, I suppose. We were doing them and nobody thought to challenge it. I did call the Genealogy Club last night. They had some pamphlets about the history of naturalization. Put out for people to use who were looking up their ancestors, trying to figure out where they came from before they stepped off the boat. In the nineteenth century, in the back-time of the up-time so to speak, American naturalizations did run through the state courts and sometimes even the county courts. Not the federal courts. So we could claim precedent."


            "So we could go ahead and naturalize her," Chad Jenkins said. "Just not as a NUS citizen or a SoTF citizen or a Grantville citizen or a West Virginia County citizen, but as a USE citizen."


            "It could work," Maurice Tito said. "Maybe. Since Parliament hasn’t gotten around to passing any nationwide citizenship law. At the very least, that little village down in Henneberg would have to appeal it to the SoTF Supreme Court, for a judgment as to whether one county in the SoTF can naturalize someone born in another county in the SoTF. And, I suppose, once that decision came down, someone could appeal to the Reichsgericht in Wetzlar. It would eventually issue a decision. If it decided that it had jurisdiction, of course."


            Tom Riddle sipped his glass of wine. "By which time Hedy and Jarvis will have grandchildren playing around their feet."


            "Assuming that I get elected," Chad asked, "should I try at least to introduce statewide legislation, do you think? Get every county and county-equivalent in the SoTF on the same page when it comes to the question of what’s a valid marriage? Or do you think that parliament ought to do it? Ed, since as president you’re automatically the SoTF member in the Chamber of Princes, would you be introducing it there?"


            Tom Riddle shook his head. "Matrimonial legislation was a state matter up-time. No telling how the Crown Loyalists in parliament would weigh in on it. Personally, I don’t want to see the USE over-centralize. The SoTF congress would be a better place to handle it. In my humble opinion, of course.


            "Citizenship should, probably, eventually, end up being in parliament’s hands. When they get around to it. Which won’t be before the election, certainly. It’s not even in session. Everybody’s out campaigning. But Ed could introduce citizenship legislation. Probably should. We need to produce a draft we’d be happy with."


            Ed Piazza shifted in his chair. "Maybe we ought to let Wes look into this for a while before we make up our minds about introducing marriage legislation in the SoTF congress, even. Make sure that we have a majority of the delegates who see it our way. It could take a considerable amount of logrolling to be sure of coming up with the kind of statute we can live with. Or want to live with."


            Henry Dreeson nodded. "Sometimes it really is smarter to let sleeping dogs lie. But as for Hedy, specifically. Yep. She’s been living here plenty long to meet the residency requirements we put on the books. Get Noelle to give her the little citizenship class. I’ll administer the oath of allegiance myself. Take that, John George!"