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November 16, 2007

putting real citizenship back into the immigration debate

Immigration is evidently a huge issue, and one of the few that may play to the advantage of conservatives in 2008. Here's a response that's available to Democrats and Republicans who don't want to shut the doors and deport people:

"We're talking about 'citizenship' as if it's just a matter of who can get a driver's license or tuition benefits. We're acting as if you're a 'citizen' if you don't have to worry about the INS.

"Throughout our history, we have always understood citizenship in a much deeper and more demanding way than that. It means the obligation and the power to work together to make America a better place than when we found it. It means voting and volunteering, discussing issues, supporting organizations, defining and solving community problems, creating public art and culture, serving in uniform, raising the next generation, and preserving the environment.

"Some of the people who have come to this country illegally are fully involved in those ways. Many legal immigrants are very active citizens. But a whole bunch of people who were born in the United States--and whose parents and grandparents and great-grandparents were born here--are not very involved. They are not truly acting as citizens, even though they have a birthright to a US passport.

"Some may just be couch potatoes, but some feel forced out of citizenship. They believe they cannot make a significant difference in education, the environment, or crime because the big bureaucratic structures that we have created don't welcome their participation. As we debate citizenship for immigrants, let's reform our institutions and strengthen our communities so that all Americans can once again be fully active and responsible citizens."

November 16, 2007 7:04 AM | category: none


Good thinking. I had fallen into the trap of accepting the flacid, "driver's rights" definition of "citizenship" in the immigration debates. Your wording is very bipartisan in the best sense.

After stated, however, Blitzer demands, "Is that a yes or no?"

I think Edwards on the Dems side is using the best civic message, "Americans have a hunger to solve problems as a community" instead of Kerry's "I have a program."

Not sure on the Repubs side. Huckabee's or Paul's populism comes closest? Here's a question, Peter. What are the pros and cons of populists campaigns and movements carrying the civic renewal banner?

November 20, 2007 8:07 AM | Comments (1) | posted by Scott D

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