Saturday, November 18, 2006

Second-Class Citizens

What rights and privileges do natural-born citizens have that naturalized citizens are denied? If you read any civics books the answer given is that naturalized citizens have all the rights and privileges of natural-born citizens except they cannot be president or vice-president of the United States. The civics books also say that the only way a U.S. citizen can lose their citizenship is by serving in the armed forces of another nation or committing a very serious crime such as treason.

But that is no longer true for naturalized citizens. Since 1996 not only can a naturalized citizen lose their citizenship and be deported for crimes far less serious than treason but it can now be done by the INS on its own say-so without a judge being involved at all:

from the Columbian Law Review
In 1996, against a backdrop of partisan criticism of its Citizenship USA naturalization campaign, the Immigration and Naturalization Service promulgated regulations implementing, for the first time, an administrative procedure to revoke citizenship of naturalized citizens. Prior to this, naturalization could be revoked through judicial proceedings only.

It is almost as if we have to have an underclass in our society. When I was a child in the 1950s and 1960s I heard racist whites taking great satisfaction that however lowly was their status in society at least they were not black. Now I hear the same sort of sentiments being expressed by the anti-immigrant crowd who place great value on things that natural-born citizens possess and immigrants do not, such as speaking English without an accent and not having any emotional attachments to foreign flags or holidays.

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