Celebrating the Declaration of Independence this week will permit many Americans a couple of days relief from the routines of work. You know, the job, child care arrangements, the daily commute, and the tedium associated with making a living. Sure, scores of us, especially those in the retail world, will keep the systems going as the rest man the beaches, consume large amounts of food and beverage, and frolic with the fire crackers till the wee hours. It's a holiday we love to celebrate, even if the reason for it has slipped to the background. It's perhaps our most patriotic national remembrance. Happy Fourth of July, Independence Day!
The Constitution of the United States, dated September 17, 1787, became the official governing document of the United State of America. This date is mentioned in the press but isn't celebrated with such fervor. Sadly, few Americans can quote specifics about our constitution. That may be one reason there is so much debate and confusion about it's governing principles. Among them right now is the Constitution's articles and amendments about American citizenship. According to The United States Census Bureau there are 329,059,452 citizens in the United States as of June 29, 2019. The researchers at the Pew Institute estimate that there are additionally 10.5 million illegal aliens currently living in the United States. The controversy about American citizenship concerns the treatment of these illegal aliens and the thousands of Haitians, Central Americans, and Africans seeking to enter the United States at the Mexican border. It has become our most pressing political controversy. Maybe learning something about our Constitution and it's articles about citizenship will help.
Tip toe with me for a few minutes. You know I'm not a political scientist or a keen legal
mind. These thoughts are a simple minded citizens ideas about a very complicated
subject. So, give me some wiggle room here.
By 1790 citizenship in the The Constitution of the United States recognized two prevailing concepts---jus soli (place of birth) and jus sanguiness (blood of relationship) as the prevailing requirements of citizenship. Children born in the United States and children born in foreign lands of fathers who were citizens were recognized as citizens of our country. Not until 1868, in the 14the Amendment of the Constitution, was citizenship specifically defined. The Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment stated, "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." It was Congress's reversal of the Dred Scott v. Sandford decision that forbade African Americans from holding citizenship. "We the people..." took on a definition.
Today there are basically two ways to be a citizen of the United State of America: birthright citizenship and naturalization. In 2015, 19.8 million non-Americans were granted American citizenship after completing the naturalization process. And, of course, the naturalization process is one of the debate points in the political arena today. It is the work of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and typically involves a ten-step process of becoming a naturalized citizen. If you would like to review the USCIS web site regarding becoming a naturalized US citizen, click here.
The inflammatory rhetoric about citizenship these days involves, in my very limited view, partisan politics, organizational reality, and issues of personal faith. There's little doubt the prevailing political parties are building election platforms with immigration and citizenship high on candidate preferences. Surely the thousands of Mexican border immigrants and the pitiful conditions of their daily lives influence political strategy for many reasons. Who of us can separate the poliicians genuine concern for the well being of fellow humans from the political advantage of those potential voters. Doing the right thing here may be our greatest challenge.
The numbers are a significant aspect of this dilemma as well. There's little doubt that our immigration and naturalization systems are insufficiently manned and organized to process the thousands seeking admission to our country. Hundreds stream across our borders nightly, many of them to give birth on United State soil. To accommodate this number of applicants in a timely fashion through our system is more than unlikely.
People of faith are compelled by prevailing beliefs to care for aliens and those foreign to our national government systems. Even with media exaggeration conditions at the border and other entry ports are deplorable. One of the questions I hear most often is , "where is the church" in this crisis? Could not the Christian population of the United States, as well as the millions of citizens of the other religious persuasions, do something to meet the needs of those we are living there, for whatever reason?
So, what do we do? We're citizens of the federal republic who possess the right and responsability to vote. So, we should seriously study the matters of citizenship and vote our conscience in the next election. Even more, we should pray without ceasing. It's a complicated issue, this citizenship thing. The Apostle Paul wrote---
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving, let your your requests be made known to God.
Philippians 4: 6, ESV
Let's reduce the rhetoric, increase the study, and pray without ceasing.
Wednesday, pause me with for a few hundred words about dual citizenship.
Copyright: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/profile_tzido'>tzido / 123RF Stock Photo</a>