Citizenship in the United States
Citizenship in the United States is a status given to a legal member of the United States. It entails specific rights, duties, privileges and economic benefits including federal assistance. People become citizens automatically by being born in the United States, known as birthright citizenship, or by a process known as naturalization. U.S. citizenship is not defined by an obligation to participate in politics, pay taxes, obey laws, serve in the military, or vote, although citizens can participate in politics or join the military if they choose, but rather citizenship is a legal marker identifying a person as having a bundle of rights including the right to live and work in the United States as well as be a customer of government services. Most persons who undergo naturalization do so to get permission to live and work in the nation legally. American law permits dual citizenship so it is permitted for citizens of the United States to be a citizen of another country at the same time. Citizenship can be stripped away by government or renounced by citizens, and it can also be restored; for example, General Robert E. Lee lost his birthright citizenship during the American Civil War when he decided to fight for the Confederate cause, but when the war ended, his citizenship was restored by naturalization.
The relation of citizenship
The concept of citizenship has varied in different cultures and times. The Athenian citizen-soldier model required civic participation as well as a duty to fight as part of a well-coordinated phalanx. Roman citizenship was a prized distinction in the early years of the Republic which also entailed a military commitment. In the United States today, however, citizenship entails few commitments to other citizens or to government; there is no military requirement or call for civic participation. Rather, citizenship is the legal status of membership in America. Citizens have the right to live and work without fear of deportation. It can be thought of as a "right" to "have rights" analogous to a contemporary European conception. The activities typically associated with citizenship typically include duties and privileges:
- Voting is a privilege of citizenship but it is not required. This is in contrast to nations like Belgium where citizens can be fined for failing to vote. Still, many citizens continue to vote. Historically, voting rates in presidential elections by eligible citizens hover around the 50% level, although the recent election of Barack Obama in 2008 saw levels rise over 60%. Legal immigrants are sometimes motivated to become citizens for a chance to exercise voting power.
- Civic participation is not required in the United States. There is no requirement to attend town meetings, read newspapers, stay informed about issues, belong to a political party, or write letters; citizens can stay home and do nothing if they choose. One source suggested that a benefit of naturalization is letting immigrants "participate fully in the civic life of the country." However, the general pattern is for most Americans to avoid politics. There is disagreement about whether popular lack of involvement in politics is helpful or harmful. Vanderbilt University professor Dana D. Nelson suggests that most Americans merely vote for president every four years, and that's all they do, and she sees this pattern as undemocratic. In her book Bad for Democracy, Nelson argues that declining citizen participation in politics is unhealthy for long term prospects for democracy. Generally, civic participation is almost nonexistent for wide swaths of the American public. One 2009 study found that seven in ten citizens showed "declining civic involvement" nationally, and that citizens of Illinois were "disappointed, frustrated and disillusioned by recent political scandals and the pressures of the recession." However, writers such as Robert D. Kaplan in The Atlantic see benefits to non-involvement; he wrote "the very indifference of most people allows for a calm and healthy political climate." Kaplan elaborated: "Apathy, after all, often means that the political situation is healthy enough to be ignored. The last thing America needs is more voters–particularly badly educated and alienated ones–with a passion for politics." He argued that civic participation, in itself, is not always a sufficient condition to bring good outcomes, and pointed to authoritarian societies such as Singapore which prospered because it had "relative safety from corruption, from breach of contract, from property expropriation, and from bureaucratic inefficiency."
- Military participation is not required in the United States. In 2009, the armed forces were made up of volunteers, supported by contractors. But in the past, such as during World War II, citizens, particularly men, were expected to fight. During the Vietnam War, there was a highly unpopular policy of drafting men. Today, there is a professional paid military, and citizen-soldiers are not needed; Johns Hopkins political scientist Benjamin Ginsberg wrote "the professional military has limited the need for citizen soldiers." It is possible, however, that in future conflicts, citizens will be required to participate in the military.
- Obeying laws is generally not considered as a duty of citizenship. Like paying taxes, people must obey laws whether they're citizens or non-citizens and if caught may be punished regardless of citizenship status. In some instances, people convicted of breaking laws have been stripped of citizenship. Breaking a law is more dangerous for non-citizens or illegal aliens, since there are fewer protections in the courts; accused felons have more difficulty applying for citizenship at a later time. And if convicted, illegal aliens face a much harsher prison environment, according to writer Tom Barry in the Boston Review. Barry suggests there is a crackdown in 2009 against illegal immigrants in which hundreds of thousands are detained in a "profit-driven public-private-prison complex."
- Jury duty is a duty of citizenship.  It was an important lesson in thinking and law, and gave people a chance to participate in the justice system. Today, however, there are indications jury duty is declining; there are fewer trials. Newspaper reports have chronicled the decline of juries, and noted how many people don't get summonses, and how Americans see jury duty as an "inconvenient" chore. Avoiding jury duty has rarely, if ever, caused a person to lose their citizenship. But only citizens are eligible for jury duty; illegal aliens are exempt.
- Paying taxes is not a duty of citizenship since everybody earning income in the United States, regardless of citizenship status, must pay taxes. Tax avoiders, if caught, may be prosecuted for tax evasion. Further, law requires employers to bypass workers and pay taxes directly, on behalf of the worker, to government; this practice of tax withholding began in 1943 during World War II to spare the government the fuss of hunting and prosecuting tax avoiders, while allowing government to raise income taxes to pay for an expensive war. But this practice undermined the link between voluntary tax compliance and citizenship, according to Amith Shlaes in The New York Times
Benjamin Ginsberg criticized the policy of tax withholding as undermining citizenship: "The withholding tax has made the voluntary component of tax collection much less important," he wrote, and saw it as one factor which had an effect that "Citizens have been marginalized as political actors." The requirement to pay taxes extends to American citizens who travel abroad. The US system is unique in that it taxes Americans wherever they go in the world. Since the United States requires citizens living abroad to file taxes, some Americans renounce their citizenship as a way to cope with the administrative burden of filing complex tax forms. In 2006, one former United States Marine and former resident of California abandoned U.S. citizenship discreetly while living in Switzerland; she had considered various options over 10 years, but finally decided to become an alien. In 2007, 470 Americans renounced their citizenship to move abroad. One estimate was that the numbers of Americans turning in their passports each year for political and economic reasons was small, with the numbers reaching a high of about 2,000 during a Vietnam War-era boom in the 1970s. One lawyer commented that the "administrative costs of being an American and living outside the U.S. have gone up dramatically." In 2003, there were 509 Americans who renounced citizenship. One account suggested that increased "taxation is driving many Americans to turn in their passports." But Congress passed rules to tax assets on so-called tax exiles or renunciators of American citizenship, who abandon US citizenship for tax purposes, as well as tax any heirs or beneficiaries of those people who still live in the territorial United States. According to a tax accountant, "The new rules say, if you leave any of your property to a U.S. person, it will be taxed at the rates for U.S. gift tax," which were 45% in 2008.
The government would get business to do its work, collecting taxes for it. Employers would retain a percentage of taxes from workers every week--say, 20 percent--and forward it directly to Washington's war chest. This would hide the size of the new taxes from the worker. No longer would the worker ever have to look his tax bill square in the eye. Workers need never even see the money they were forgoing. Withholding as we know it today was born.
- Freedom to live and work in the United States is perhaps the biggest benefit of U.S. citizenship. There are many jobs, opportunities, and educational opportunities. Some immigrants see citizenship as a way of "locking in economic gains that they have made as legal residents." One person said "People don’t feel that being permanent residents is enough to secure their future in this country. They would just feel more secure as citizens." Citizenship is like a ticket to work without hassle in a bustling economy.
- Government support when traveling is a privilege. While traveling abroad, if a person is arrested or detained by foreign authorities, there is the chance that the U.S. government might intervene on their behalf. For example, an American citizen named William E. Petty, who was jailed by authorities in France in 1854, petitioned U.S. authorities to intervene on his behalf. In a twist of this principle, it's possible for foreign governments to confer citizenship on persons serving in jails in the United States. For example, one American named Jonathan Pollard was convicted of spying against the United States for Israel and was sentenced to life imprisonment; the State of Israel granted Pollard citizenship while Pollard was in American custody on the hope that Israeli citizenship would help Pollard win parole; but president Clinton denied the request for clemency. But it illustrates how citizenship is a way to try to extend the hand of protection to nationals when incarcerated in foreign jails.
- Access to services provided by the federal government, such as income support, has been cited as a benefit of citizenship.
- Increased ability to sponsor relatives living abroad is a benefit which allows an immigrant to extend an open hand to relatives living abroad.
- Less fear of government is a benefit. British comedian Tracey Ullman became a U.S. citizen in 2006 and after becoming an official citizen, she "felt free to lampoon American culture." Citizens have greatly reduced need to fear being deported. While there are millions of persons living illegally in the nation, deportations are expensive, time-consuming procedures, and the general pattern is for government to avoid having to deport people unless there are specific and powerful reasons.
- Other benefits. The USCIS sometimes honors the achievements of naturalized U.S. citizens. The 'Outstanding American by Choice Award' was created by the USCIS to recognize the outstanding achievements of naturalized U.S. citizens, and past recipients include author Elie Wiesel who won the Nobel Peace Prize; Indra K. Nooyi who was CEO of PepsiCo; John Shalikashvili who was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and others. Further, citizenship status can affect which country an athlete can compete as a member of in competitions such as the Olympics.
The United States allows dual citizenship which means citizens of the United States can also be a citizen of another country at the same time. But the concept of dual citizenship has been subject to controversy. Michael Barone argued that "dual citizenship is a threat to the American tradition of patriotic assimilation" as well as possibly undermine American sovereignty while others have argued that the effects are less pernicious.
I participated today in a panel at the Hudson Institute on dual citizenship. The subject was Hudson's John Fonte's paper lamenting dual citizenship and urging penalties for U.S. citizens who have foreign citizenship and exercise that citizenship by voting or running for office in foreign elections.
Americans who have dual citizenship do not lose their United States citizenship unless they renounce it officially. When Mexico allowed for people to become dual citizens, many Mexican-born American citizens sought dual citizenship; in this case, dual citizenship (Mexico and the US) offers benefits such as the ability to own property anywhere in Mexico, and legal status to live and work in either country; but one drawback is that dual citizens cannot vote or hold political office in Mexico. Before 1998, many Mexicans were reluctant to become United States citizens, fearing they would lose real estate, inheritances or businesses in Mexico. In 2003 in the United States, there were 32.8 million Hispanics; of these, 21.7 million were from Mexico or had Mexican heritage; of these, 7.8 million had been born in Mexico; and of these, 1.6 million had become American citizens; of these, 30,000 had become dual citizens from 2000 to 2003.
History of citizenship in the United States
Citizenship began in colonial times as an active relation between people working cooperatively to solve municipal problems and participating actively in democratic decision-making, such as in New England town hall meetings. A variety of forces changed this relation during the nation's history; an underlying factor was a push for economic success which in turn caused people to avoid participating in local government. Citizenship became less defined by participation in politics and more defined as a legal relation with accompanying rights and privileges. While the realm of civic participation in the public sphere has shrunk, the citizenship franchise has been expanded to include not just propertied white adult men but African-American men and adult women. Citizenship offers a chance to participate in a dynamic economic marketplace.
U.S. citizenship is usually acquired by birth when a child is born in the territory of the United States. This is provided under the 14th Amendment. Citizenship, however, was not specified in the original Constitution. It was not until 1868 that the Fourteenth Amendment defined citizens as persons who were either born in the United States or became citizens by a process of naturalization. All babies born in the United States–except those born to enemy aliens in wartime or the children of foreign diplomats–enjoy American citizenship under the Supreme Court's long-standing interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment. It says: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." Still, the amendment did not specify exactly what the relation of "citizenship" meant.
While persons born in the United States are considered to be citizens and can have passports, children under age eighteen are legally considered to be minors and can not vote or hold office. On becoming eighteen, they're considered full citizens but there is no ceremony acknowledging this relation or any correspondence between the new citizen and the government to this effect. Citizenship is assumed to exist. And the relation is assumed to remain viable until death or until it is renounced or dissolved by some other legal process. While citizenship poses few requirements or duties, and there are few, if any, places for people to debate public issues, some secondary schools try to teach the basics of citizenship and create "informed and responsible citizens" who are "skilled in the arts of effective deliberation and action." Teachers try to encourage students to believe that "their ballots count."
However, there have been a few exceptions in which people born in the United States were not officially considered to be citizens. For example, in 1985, a renegade band of 143 Kickapoo Indians were naturalized; they had been living under an expressway bridge near Piedras Negras in Mexico.
One controversial practice is maternity citizenship. It refers to the fact that babies born to foreign women while visiting the United States are automatically considered to have birthright citizenship. It's been criticized as encouraging women to enter the country illegally to give birth to U.S. citizens; by one estimate, there were 400,000 so-called anchor babies born in 2008 which didn't have one parent who was a U.S. citizen. The policy has been criticized further as an "antiquated practice" in which the baby becomes an "anchor" preventing deportation of "unlawfully present parents" and becomes an impediment to stabilizing the U.S. population. However, proposals to further the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2009 (H.R. 1868) have been criticized as being "beside the point" and that the real reason for illegal immigration is based on the need for employment. 2008 presidential candidate Mitt Romney argued that birthright citizenship can lead to chain migration in which a child born in the US to illegal immigrants permits an entire family to become eligible for American citizenship as a result. What is notable regarding this is that people seeking entry into the United States by virtue of a family member's citizenship still require a sponsor, and an anchor baby does not meet the financial qualifications to be a sponsor. Scholars have debated whether it's possible to end birthright citizenship through legislation or whether it requires a constitutional amendment.
But the opposite situation, in which an American couple adopted a foreign-born child, used to mean huge headaches after the adoption process in terms of getting the foreign-born child recognized as a citizen. However, the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, which took effect in February 2001, made it easier for parents adopting children in foreign countries to naturalize them. Up until the law, "parents of youngsters adopted overseas were required to undergo a costly and cumbersome naturalization process that sometimes took two years to complete" in addition to usually complex international adoption procedures; the new law meant that 75,000 adopted foreign-born children automatically became citizens. One estimate was that, in 2001, there were about 20,000 such adoptions every year, and the average wait for citizenship processing by the Immigration and Naturalization Service had been two years. But with the new law, that process will be shortened considerably.
Americans who live in foreign countries and become members of other governments have, in some instances, been stripped of citizenship, although there have been court cases where decisions regarding citizenship have been reversed.
The agency in charge
The agency in charge of admitting new citizens is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, commonly abbreviated as USCIS. It is a bureau of the United States Department of Homeland Security. It offers web-based services. The agency depends for revenue on application fees; in 2009, with a struggling economy, applications were down sharply, and consequently there was much less revenue to upgrade and streamline services. There was speculation that if the administration of president Barack Obama passes immigration reform, then the agency could face a "welcome but overwhelming surge of Americans-in-waiting" and longer processing times for citizenship applications. The USCIS has made efforts to digitize records. A USCIS website says the "U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is committed to offering the best possible service to you, our customer" and which says "With our focus on customer service, we offer you a variety of services both before and after you file your case." The website allowed applicants to estimate the length of time required to process specific types of cases, to check application status, and to access a customer guide. The USCIS processes cases in the order they're received.
Pathways to citizenship
- Requirements. People applying to become citizens must satisfy certain requirements. For example, there have been requirements for applicants to have lived in the nation for five years (three if married to a U.S. citizen,) be of "good moral character" meaning no felony convictions, be of "sound mind" in the judgment of immigration officials, have knowledge of the Constitution, and be able to speak and understand English unless they're elderly or disabled.
- Military participation is often a way for immigrant residents to become citizens. Since many people seek citizenship for its financial and social benefits, the promise of citizenship can be seen as a means of motivating persons to do dangerous activities such as fight in wars. For example, one account suggested the United States Military was recruiting "skilled immigrants who are living in this country with temporary visas" by promising an opportunity to become citizens "in as little as six months" in exchange for service in Afghanistan and Iraq where US forces are "stretched thin." The option was not open to illegal immigrants. One estimate was that in 2009 the US military had 29,000 foreign-born people currently serving who were not American citizens. Generally, spouses of citizens, and non-citizens who served in the military, have less difficulty becoming citizens. Generally there is a strong link between military service and citizenship. One analyst noted that "many immigrants, not yet citizens, have volunteered to serve in the United States military forces ... Some have been killed and others wounded ... Perhaps this can be seen as a cynical attempt to qualify more easily for U.S. citizenship ... But I think that service in the U.S. military has to be taken as a pretty serious commitment to the United States." Immigrant soldiers who fight for the US often have an easier and faster path to citizenship. In 2002, President George W. Bush signed an executive order to eliminate the three-year waiting period and made service personnel immediately eligible for citizenship. In 2003, Congress voted to "cut the waiting period to become a citizen from three years down to one year" for immigrants who had served in the armed forces. In 2003, of 1.4 million service members, 37,000 active-duty members were not citizens, and of these, 20 percent had applied for citizenship. By June 2003, 12 non-citizens had died fighting for the United States in the Iraqi war. The military has had a tradition of "filling out its ranks" with aliens living in the U.S. Non-citizens fought in World War II. The military has struggled to "fill its depleted ranks" by recruiting more non-US citizens. But there is considerable anxiety about using foreigners to serve in the U.S. armed forces. General Dwight D. Eisenhower was quoted as saying: "When Rome went out and hired mercenary soldiers, Rome fell."
- Grandparent rule. One obscure ruling of section 322 of a 1994 immigration law enabled persons to emigrate to the United States if they could prove that a grandparent was a citizen. In 2006, there were 4,000 applications of citizenship through grandparents; while parents of any nationality can use the law, Israelis comprise 90% of those taking advantage of the clause.
- Amnesties have happened in the past in which illegal residents could petition for citizenship if they could prove that they had been living in the nation for a specified number of years.
- Citizenship test. Last, applicants must pass a simple citizenship test. Up until recently, a test published by the Immigration and Naturalization Service asked questions such as "How many stars are there in our flag?" and "What is the Constitution?" and "Who is the president of the United States today?" At one point, the Government Printing Office sold flashcards for $8.50 to help test takers prepare for the test. In 2006, the government replaced the former trivia test with a ten-question oral test designed to "shun simple historical facts about America that can be recounted in a few words for more explanation about the principles of American democracy, such as freedom." One reviewer described the new citizenship test as "thoughtful." While some have criticized the new version of the test, officials counter that the new test is a "teachable moment" without making it conceptually more difficult, since the list of possible questions and answers, as before, will be publicly available. Six correct answers constitutes a passing grade. The new test probes for signs that immigrants "understand and share American values."
According to a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, "Citizenship is a very, very valuable commodity." However, one study suggested legal residents eligible for citizenship, but who don't apply, tend to have low incomes (41 percent), not speak English well (60 percent), or have low levels of education (25 percent). There is strong demand for citizenship based on the numbers of applications filed. From 1920 to 1940, the number of immigrants to the United States who became citizens numbered about 200,000 each year; there was a spike after World War II, and then the level reduced to about 150,000 per year until resuming to the 200,000 level beginning about 1980. In the mid-1990s to 2009, the levels rose to about 500,000 per year with considerable variation. In 1996, more than one million people became citizens through naturalization. In 1997, there were 1.41 million applications filed; in 2006, 1.38 million. In the mid-1990s, the number of naturalized citizens in the United States rose from 6.5 million to 11 million in 2002. By 2003, the pool of immigrants eligible to become naturalized citizens was 8 million, and of these, 2.7 million lived in California. In 2003, the number of new citizens from naturalization was 463,204. In 2007, the number was 702,589. In 2007, 1.38 million people applied for citizenship creating a backlog. In 2008, applications decreased to 525,786.
Naturalization fees were $60 in 1989; $90 in 1991; $95 in 1994; $225 in 1999; $260 in 2002; $320 in 2003; $330 in 2005. Application fees were increased from $330 to $595 and an additional $80 computerized fingerprinting fee was added. The high fees have been criticized as putting up one more wall to citizenship. Increases in fees for citizenship has drawn criticism. Doris Meissner, a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute, doubted that fee increases deter citizenship-seekers. In 2009, the number of immigrants applying for citizenship plunged 62 percent; reasons cited were the slowing economy and the cost of naturalization.
The citizenship process has been described as a ritual which is "meaningful for many immigrants" and similar in some respects to a "first communion" or "bar mitzvah". Many new citizens are sworn in during Fourth of July ceremonies. Most citizenship ceremonies take place at offices of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. However, one swearing-in ceremony was held at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia in 2008. The judge who chose this venue explained: "I did it to honor our country's warriors and to give the new citizens a sense for what makes this country great." According to federal law, citizenship applicants who are also changing their names must appear before a federal judge.
Sometimes Congress or the president make people honorary citizens; in one instance, Polish nobleman Kazimierz Pulaski was declared to be an American citizen 230 years after fighting and dying in the American Revolutionary War. Sometimes, the government awarded non-citizen immigrants who died fighting for American forces with the posthumous title of U.S. citizenship. In June 2003, Congress approved legislation to help families of fallen non-citizen soldiers.
There is a sense in which corporations can be considered as "citizens." Since corporations are often thought of as individuals in the eyes of the law, then it is possible to think of corporations as being like citizens. For example, the airline Virgin America asked the United States Department of Transportation to be treated as an American air carrier. The advantage of "citizenship" is having the protection and support of the United States government when jockeying with foreign governments for access to air routes and overseas airports. A competitor of Virgin America called Alaska Airlines asked for a review of the situation; according to "U.S. law, foreign ownership in a U.S. air carrier is limited to 25% of the voting interest in the carrier," but executives at Virgin America insisted the airline met this requirement. For the purposes of diversity jurisdiction in United States civil procedure, corporate citizenship is determined by the principle place of business of the corporation. There is some degree of disagreement among legal authorities as to how exactly this may be determined. Another sense of "corporate citizenship" is a way to show support for causes such as social issues and the environment and, indirectly, gain a kind of "reputational advantage."
The issue of citizenship naturalization is a highly contentious matter in American politics, particularly regarding illegal immigrants. Candidates in the 2008 presidential election such as Rudolph Giuliani tried to "carve out a middle ground" on the issue of illegal immigration, but rivals such as John McCain advocated legislation requiring illegal immigrants to first leave the country before being eligible to apply as citizens. Some measures to require proof of citizenship at polling places have met with controversy. In the past, some rulings have prevented homosexuals from entering the nation and applying for citizenship.
Issues such as whether to include questions about current citizenship status in census questions have been debated in the United States Senate. Generally, there tends to be controversy when citizenship impacts political issues. For example, issues such as asking questions about citizenship on the United States Census tend to cause controversy. Census data affects state electoral clout; it also affects budgetary allocations.
There have been controversies based on speculation about which way newly naturalized citizens are likely to vote. Since immigrants from many countries have been presumed to vote Democratic if naturalized, there have been efforts by Democratic administrations to streamline citizenship applications before elections to increase turnout; Republicans, in contrast, have exerted pressure to slow down the process. In 1997, there were efforts to strip the citizenship of 5,000 newly approved immigrants who, it was thought, had been "wrongly naturalized"; a legal effort to do this presented enormous challenges. An examination by the Immigration and Naturalization Service of 1.1 million people who were granted citizenship from September 1995 to last September found 4,946 cases in which a criminal arrest should have disqualified an applicant or in which an applicant lied about his or her criminal history. Before the 2008 election, there was controversy about the speed of the USCIS in processing applications; one report suggested that the agency would complete 930,000 applications in time for the newly processed citizens to vote in the November 2008 election. Foreign-born naturalized citizens tend to vote at the same rates as natives. For example, in the state of New Jersey in the 2008 election, the foreign born represented 20.1 percent of the state's population of 8,754,560; of these, 636,000 were eighteen or older and hence eligible to vote; of eligible voters, 396,000 actually voted, which was about 62%. So foreign-born citizens vote in roughly the same proportion (62%) as native citizens (67%).
There has been controversy about the agency in charge of citizenship. The USCIS has been criticized as being a "notoriously surly, inattentive bureaucracy" with long backlogs in which "would-be citizens spent years waiting for paperwork." Rules made by Congress and the federal government regarding citizenship are highly technical and often confusing, and the agency is forced to cope with enforcement within a complex regulatory milieu. There have been instances in which applicants for citizenship have been deported on technicalities. One Pennsylvania doctor from the Philippines who applied for citizenship, and who was married to an American with two children from this marriage, ran afoul of legal technicalities and faced deportation. The New York Times reported that "Mr. Darnell discovered that a 10-year-old conviction for domestic violence involving a former girlfriend, even though it had been reduced to a misdemeanor and erased from his public record, made him ineligible to become a citizen–or even to continue living in the United States." Overworked federal examiners under pressure to make "quick decisions" as well as "weed out security risks" have been described as preferring "to err on the side of rejection." In 2000, 399,670 applications were denied (about 1/3 of all applications); in 2007, 89,683 applications for naturalization were denied, about 12 percent of those presented.
Generally, eligibility for citizenship is denied for the millions of people living in the United States illegally, although from time to time, there have been amnesties. In 2006, there were mass protests numbering hundreds of thousands of people throughout the US demanding U.S. citizenship for illegal immigrants. Many carried banners which read "We Have A Dream Too." One estimate is that there are 12 million illegal immigrants in the USA in 2006. There are many American high school students with citizenship issues. One estimate is that there are 65,000 undocumented immigrant students in 2008. A 1982 Supreme Court decision entitled illegal immigrants to free education from kindergarten through high school. But it is less clear about post-secondary education. Illegal aliens who get caught in the gears of the justice system face horrendous odds; for example, if their lawyer makes a mistake during a hearing, they have no constitutional right to challenge the outcome of their deportation hearings. Writer Tom Barry of the Boston Review criticizes the crackdown against illegal immigrants since it has "flooded the federal courts with nonviolent offenders, besieged poor communities, and dramatically increased the U.S. prison population, while doing little to solve the problem itself." Barry criticizes the United States' high incarceration rate as being "fives times greater than the average rate in the rest of the world." Virginia Senator Jim Webb agreed that we are "doing something dramatically wrong in our criminal justice system."
- US Citizenship Application–Apply for United States Citizenship, US Immigration Support (usimmigrationsupport.org), 2009-11-19. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “The citizenship application process is easier when you have all of the necessary information. U.S. Immigration Support provides useful U.S. citizenship application information, including eligibility requirements and detailed filing instructions. The U.S. Citizenship Application Guide is available in the format most convenient for you: immediate download, a hardcopy book, or as a data CD. Hardcopy books and data CDs are shipped within 24 hours.”
- Robert Heineman (book reviewer). Downsizing Democracy: How America Sidelined Its Citizens and Privatized Its Public (book) by Matthew A. Crenson and Benjamin Ginsberg, 'The Independent Institute', 2004-07. Retrieved on 2009-12-16. “The withholding tax has made the voluntary component of tax collection much less important, and the professional military has limited the need for citizen soldiers.”
- Jerry Markon. Judge Offers Lesson In U.S. Citizenship, 'The Washington Post', June 12, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “Ellis had moved his Alexandria courtroom to Arlington National Cemetery to swear in immigrants from more than 30 countries as U.S. citizens, the first time a naturalization ceremony was held on the hallowed grounds in the cemetery's 144-year history. He wanted to impress upon the new citizens the sacrifices made for their freedom.”
- Richard Bellamy. The `Right to have Rights': Citizenship Practice and the Political Constitution of the European Union, 'One-Europe Programme', 2001-06-01. Retrieved on 2009-12-16. “Right to have Rights–Citizenship Practice”
- Citizenship and Civic Engagement, mpI Migration Policy Institute, 2009-11-20. Retrieved on 2009-11-20. “US citizenship, which is attained through the naturalization process, brings many benefits to immigrants and to the United States.”
- Julia Preston. Surge Seen in Applications for Citizenship, 'The New York Times', July 5, 2007. Retrieved on 2009-11-19.
- New Report Reveals Disappointment and Disengagement Among Illinois Citizens, State of Illinois–New Report Reveals Disappointment and Disengagement Among Illinois Citizens, November 18, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “Illinois citizens, particularly young people, are withdrawing from active civic engagement. Study shows support for funding civic education”
- Robert D. Kaplan. Was Democracy Just a Moment?, 'The Atlantic', 1997-12-01. Retrieved on 2009-11-27. “Then there are malls, with their own rules and security forces, as opposed to public streets; private health clubs as opposed to public playgrounds; incorporated suburbs with strict zoning; and other mundane aspects of daily existence in which–perhaps without realizing it, because the changes have been so gradual–we opt out of the public sphere and the "social contract" for the sake of a protected setting.”
- Robert D. Kaplan. Was Democracy Just a Moment?, 'The Atlantic', 1997-12-01. Retrieved on 2009-11-27. “Lee Kuan Yew's offensive neo-authoritarianism ... is paternalistic, meritocratic, and decidedly undemocratic, has forged prosperity from abject poverty ... Doesn't liberation from filth and privation count as a human right? Jeffrey Sachs ... writes that "good government" means relative safety from corruption, from breach of contract, from property expropriation, and from bureaucratic inefficiency.”
- Tom Barry. A Death in Texas–Profits, poverty, and immigration converge, 'Boston Review', 2009-11-01. Retrieved on 2009-12-16. “Although the term “criminal aliens” has no precise definition, its broadening use reflects a trend in dealing with immigrants. With the post-9/11 creation of DHS and its two agencies—Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP)—a wide sector of aliens increasingly became the focus of joint efforts by immigration and law enforcement officers.”
- Renee Montagne, Steve Inskeep, guests. Efforts to Bring More Jurors to the Courthouse, 'National Public Radio (NPR)', June 9, 2005. Retrieved on 2009-11-27. “The Constitution says in Article III, all criminal cases, say, for impeachment shall be tried to a jury. So the jury is in the very separation of powers. The jury is a direct democracy. It's the New England town meeting writ large. It's the people themselves governing.”
- Amith Shlaes. The Greedy Hand–How Taxes Drive Americans Crazy and What to Do About It, 'The New York Times: Books', 1999. Retrieved on 2009-12-16.
- Martin A. Vaughan. New Law Makes Escape Tougher For Tax Exiles, 'The Wall Street Journal', May 28, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “It's been called "the ultimate estate plan": moving to a desert island or other far-off locale to escape the clutches of the Internal Revenue Service. Indeed, hundreds of Americans do formally renounce their U.S. citizenship every year, many in order to protect their wealth from income, estate and gift taxes. But last week, Congress may have made life less rewarding for tax exiles.”
- Doreen Carvajal. Americans abroad are giving up citizenship for lower taxes - Americas - International Herald Tribune, 'The New York Times', December 17, 2006. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “he is a former U.S. Marine, a native Californian and, now, a former American who prefers to remain discreet about abandoning her citizenship. After 10 years of warily considering options, she turned in her U.S. passport last month without ceremony, becoming an alien in the view of her homeland.”
- Jeremiah Petty, William E. Petty. RIGHTS OF CITIZENSHIP.; An American Citizen Imprisoned Abroad--Letter from Mr. W. E. Petty to the U. S. Government., 'The New York Times', April 3, 1854. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “To the Editor of the New-York Daily Times: DEAR Sir: I herewith enclose to you an appeal to the "President and Ministers of the United States," recently received from my brother, now confined a prisoner in France, the original having been sent on to the Government at Washington”
- Staff writer. Israel Grants Citizenship to American Spy, 'The New York Times', November 22, 1995. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “Israel granted citizenship today to Jonathan Pollard, an American Jew serving a life sentence in the United States for spying for Israel.”
- Jill Serjeant. U.S. citizenship liberated Brit comic Tracey Ullman, Reuters, May 5, 200. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “Maybe only an outsider could mimic former first lady Laura Bush, Renee Zellweger and polygamous wives on American television and get away with it. But British comedy transplant Tracey Ullman says it's been only since she became a U.S. citizen in 2006 that she has really felt free to lampoon American culture.”
- PRNewswire. 'Outstanding American by Choice Award' Announced by the United States Citizenship, Reuters, April 27, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “Recipients of the award display exceptional accomplishments through professional achievements and leadership, civic participation, responsible citizenship, and demonstrate outstanding commitment to the United States while embodying the values and ideals that are inherent to this country, and within each of its citizens.”
- Jere Longman. OLYMPICS; Marathon Runner's U.S. Citizenship Is on the Line, 'The New York Times', March 3, 2000. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “Khalid Khannouchi, the world-record holder in the marathon, has still not given up hope of obtaining American citizenship in time to compete in the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia. If he does gain citizenship, he is considering the unusual prospect of running both the London Marathon on April 16 and the Olympic trials three weeks later in Pittsburgh, friends said.”
- Michael Barone. Dual citizenship, U.S. News & World Report, November 30, 2005. Retrieved on 2009-11-19.
- U.S. Mexicans Gain Dual Citizenship, 'The New York Times', March 20, 2003. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “Maria Sanchez was proud to become a United States citizen in 1985, but it did not completely erase the sense of loss she felt over having to give up her Mexican citizenship.”
- See 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(36) and 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(38) Providing the term “State” and "United States" definitions on the U.S. Federal Code, Immigration and Nationality Act. Template:USC
- Romney Eyeing End to Birthright Citizenship, ABC News, July 22, 2007. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “ABC News' Teddy Davis Reports: Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney backs an end to the policy known as chain migration but he has not yet reached a conclusion on the more controversial question of whether the United States should end birthright citizenship for children born in the United States to illegal immigrants.”
- Susan Jo Keller. Bringing Up Citizens, 'The New York Times', October 27, 1996. Retrieved on 2009-12-16. “But teachers are quick to say that it takes more to produce a good citizen than using their 50-minute slices of a student's day for a week or two before the election to talk about the Presidential race. And convincing students that their ballots count is only part of it.”
- United Press International. AROUND THE NATION; 143 Renegade Kickapoos Accept U.S. Citizenship, 'The New York Times', November 22, 1985. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “Immigration officials today distributed citizenship cards to a renegade band of Kickapoo Indians who have resisted the ways of the white man for nearly two centuries.”
- Roy Beck. ‘Anchor’ Babies: No More U.S. Citizenship, 'BusinessWeek', July 24, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “Maternity tourism is just the beginning of the silliness of birthright citizenship that goes to the babies of foreign students, temporary foreign workers, international travelers—and the millions who break the law to criminally enter this country.”
- USCIS. General Information–How Do I... Financially Sponsor Someone Who Wants to Immigrate?, 'U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services', 2008-08-01. Retrieved on 2009-12-07. “Under U.S. law, every person who immigrates based on a relative petition must have a financial sponsor. If you choose to sponsor your relative's immigration by filing a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, you must agree to be the financial sponsor...”
- Eric Schmitt. Children Adopted Abroad Win Automatic Citizenship, 'The New York Times', February 27, 2001. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “More than 75,000 children adopted from abroad and living in this country will automatically become United States citizens on Tuesday because of changes Congress made in immigration law last year.”
- [http://www.nytimes.com/1987/02/21/nyregion/metro-dateline-american-citizenship-restored-to-kahane.html METRO DATELINE; American Citizenship Restored to Kahane Published], 'The New York Times', February 21, 1987. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “A Federal judge yesterday restored the American citizenship of Rabbi Meir Kahane, the Brooklyn-born founder of the Jewish Defense League who emigrated to Israel more than 15 years ago.”
- Ben Arnoldy. US to unveil new citizenship test, 'Christian Science Monitor', November 17, 2006. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “To gain American citizenship, immigrants must be able to answer such questions as: What was the 49th state added to our Union? What color are the stars on our flag? And who wrote the Star Spangled Banner? Sound trivial? The US government thinks so, and plans to roll out a new pilot test this winter.”
- Editorial staff. A Commitment to Citizenship, 'The New York Times', September 25, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “Reports this week that the United States citizenship agency was yet again struggling with a budget shortfall, and considering raising fees on the hopeful immigrants who are its main source of revenue, could have led any American to wonder what kind of beacon to the world we are anymore.”
- PRNewswire. CSC Receives $27 Million Task Order From United States Citizenship and Immigration..., Reuters, May 26, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “CSC (NYSE: CSC) announced today that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) awarded the company a task order to conduct scanning, indexing and file management operations at a records digitization facility. The new agreement, which was signed during the company's fourth quarter fiscal year 2009, has a one-year performance period and a contract value of $27 million.”
- USCIS Processing Time Information, United States government–U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 2009-11-20. Retrieved on 2009-11-20. “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is committed to offering the best possible service to you, our customer. With our focus on customer service, we offer you a variety of services both before and after you file your case.”
- Andrew Taylor. Senate blocks census US-citizenship question, 'Newark Star-Ledger (nj.com), 2009-11-05. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “Senate Democrats have blocked a GOP attempt to require next year's census forms to ask people whether they are a U.S. citizen.”
- Julia Preston. U.S. Military Will Offer Path to Citizenship, 'The New York Times', February 14, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “Stretched thin in Afghanistan and Iraq, the American military will begin recruiting skilled immigrants who are living in this country with temporary visas, offering them the chance to become United States citizens in as little as six months.”
- Tatiana Morales. Citizenship For Immigrant Soldiers, CBS News, July 4, 2003. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “An easy assumption to make is that the men and women serving in our armed forces are American citizens. But that is not always the case. When the war broke out, and casualties started to mount, it was discovered that some who died were still waiting to become Americans.”
- National Affairs: Passport to Citizenship, 'Time Magazine, 1951-04-02. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “Though the Army had never gone abroad to hire foreign mercenaries, it had long filled out its ranks with aliens living in the U.S. (In World War II, an honorable service record gave aliens citizenship in three years instead of five.)”
- Tom Regan. US military may recruit foreigners to serve, 'Christian Science Monitor', December 26, 2006. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “Struggling to fill its depleted ranks using American citizenry, the US military is considering recruiting more non-US citizens, according to Pentagon officials.”
- Miriam Jordan. Citizenship via Grandparents, 'The Wall Street Journal', October 16, 2007. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “A swelling number of Israelis are flying to the U.S., armed with tattered U.S. high school diplomas and faded marriage certificates, to try to tap into an obscure clause in U.S. immigration law that enables some grandparents to pass citizenship to their grandchildren.”
- Bill Nichols. Study guide for U.S. citizenship test omits freedom of press, 'USA Today', 2006-05-16. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “A set of flashcards designed to help applicants for U.S. citizenship learn basic civics has become one of the most popular items sold by the Government Printing Office. But the $8.50 flashcards — which contain questions and answers from the actual citizenship exam — won't help immigrants learn much about the role of the press in American democracy.”
- Tara Bahrampour. Number of Immigrants Applying for U.S. Citizenship Is Down 62%, Study Finds, 'The Washington Post', September 12, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “The number of immigrants applying to become U.S. citizens plunged 62 percent last year as the cost of naturalization rose and the economy soured, according to an analysis released Friday by the National Council of La Raza, a Latino advocacy organization.”
- Number of Immigrants Who Became US Citizens: Fiscal Year 1920 to 2008, mpI Migration Policy Institute, 2009-11-20. Retrieved on 2009-11-20.
- William Booth. The U.S. Citizenship Test: Learning, And Earning, Their Stripes, 'The Washington Post', November 17 1996. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “A record number of immigrants, more than 1 million, will become U.S. citizens this year.”
- Michael Fix, Jeffrey S. Passel, Kenneth Sucher. Immigrant Families and Workers–TRENDS IN NATURALIZATION (pdf), URBAN INSTITUTE–Immigration Studies Program, 2003-09. Retrieved on 2009-11-20.
- Citizenship Fee Increases In Context Figure 1. Naturalization Applications Processed and Pending at USCIS, FY 1985 to 2005., mpI Migration Policy Institute, 2009-11-20. Retrieved on 2009-11-20.
- Agency Plans to Double U.S. Citizenship Fee, 'The New York Times', September 4, 1997. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “The cost of becoming a United States citizen would more than double under a draft proposal by the Clinton Administration, but the idea is drawing fire from advocates for immigrants. The Immigration and Naturalization Service has forwarded to the Justice Department a plan to raise a variety of fees, including increasing the citizenship application to $200 or more from the current $95.”
- Associated Press. Citizenship for Polish Hero of American Revolution, 'The New York Times', November 7, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “Gen. Casimir Pulaski finally became an American citizen, 230 years after he died fighting in the Revolutionary War.”
- Harry R. Weber. Virgin America to DOT: Dismiss citizenship challenge, 'USA Today', 2009-09-04. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “Privately held air carrier Virgin America asked the Department of Transportation on Thursday to deny Alaska Airlines' repeated challenges to its U.S. citizenship status and close the case.”
- Business Wire. In Depth of Recession, American Business Confirm Value of Corporate Citizenship; Focus on Sustainable Products and Workforce Development, New Survey Shows, Reuters, September 23, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “The 2009 State of Corporate Citizenship survey results reveal that, despite the recession, corporate citizenship practices are ingrained in increasing numbers of American businesses. Many business leaders report that attention to corporate citizenship efforts is more important in a recession.”
- Giuliani Sidesteps Whether Illegals Should Get Citizenship Without First Leaving U.S., ABC News, March 23, 2007. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani sidestepped whether he supports giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship without first requiring them to leave the country while campaigning Thursday in the Washington, D.C. area.”
- Ian Urbina. Voter ID Battle Shifts to Proof of Citizenship, 'The New York Times', May 12, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “The battle over voting rights will expand this week as lawmakers in Missouri are expected to support a proposed constitutional amendment to enable election officials to require proof of citizenship from anyone registering to vote.”
- United Press International. AROUND THE NATION; Homosexual Is Denied Citizenship in U.S., 'The New York Times', September 30, 1983. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “A three-judge Federal appeals panel has ruled, 2 to 1, that homosexual aliens should not be allowed entry into the United States and therefore cannot become citizens.”
- Ed O'Keefe. Eye Opener: Citizenship and the Census, 'The Washington Post', 2009-11-19. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “Happy Friday! Should the 2010 Census account for a person's citizenship status? At least two Republican lawmakers think so, arguing the forthcoming Congressional reapportionment should not be swayed by illegal immigrants, who whose numbers will give more seats to certain states.”
- Eric Schmitt. U.S. Is Seeking To Strip 5,000 Of Citizenship, 'The New York Times', May 24, 1997. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “The Clinton Administration will seek to strip the citizenship of nearly 5,000 immigrants who were wrongly naturalized in an immigration drive last year, Federal officials said today.”
- Julia Preston. Goal Set for Reducing Backlog on Citizenship Applications, 'The New York Times', March 15, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “Immigration officials said on Friday that they expected to complete about 930,000 citizenship applications in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, reducing a huge backlog in a time frame that would allow many new citizens to register to vote in the November elections.”
- Role of Foreign-born Voters in Elections, mpI Migration Policy Institute, 2009-11-20. Retrieved on 2009-11-20. “Note: click on "New Jersey" MPI election profiles for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, examining voter registration by nativity, providing breakdowns for foreign-born citizens as a share of total state population, and detailing their turnout in the 2004 general election, and by ethnicity.”
- Julia Preston. Perfectly Legal Immigrants, Until They Applied for Citizenship, 'The New York Times', April 12, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “Dr. Pedro Servano always believed that his journey from his native Philippines to the life of a community doctor in Pennsylvania would lead to American citizenship.”
- Laura Parker. Immigrants, backers demand citizenship, 'USA TODAY', 2006-04-11. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “Hundreds of thousands of people demanding U.S. citizenship for illegal immigrants took to the streets in dozens of cities from New York to San Diego on Monday in some of the most widespread demonstrations since the mass protests began around the country last month.”
- Eddy Ramírez. Should Colleges Enroll Illegal Immigrants?, 'U.S. News & World Report', August 7, 2008. Retrieved on 2009-11-19. “A native of Poland, she has resided in the United States unlawfully for most of her 21 years. Unless federal immigration laws change and allow undocumented students like her to become legal residents, she won't be able to put her degree to use and work as an American engineer.”
- Dan Slater. Mukasey Limits Ineffective Assistance Challenge for Aliens, 'The Wall Street Journal', January 9, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-12-16. “On Wednesday, Michael Mukasey ruled that aliens have no constitutional right to challenge the outcome of their deportation hearings based on their lawyers’ mistakes.”