Proud To Be An American

In its 236 years as a nation, the United States of America has undergone a constant debate about what it means to be an American.  The U.S. Constitution, formalized in 1791, had to make provisions to account for people in those times who were born in other countries, but had come here to be Americans.   I don’t like to speak against every single every illegal alien.  I would gladly see my neighbor, The Tattooed Lady, shipped off to the Mexican desert (the old lizard; she belongs there with all the other reptile) and the landscaper amigo who saved me from her pernicious abuse permitted to stay.  I’d welcome him as a neighbor any day of the week.  God bless my kindly Mexican landscaper for taking pity on me!  God must have heard my prayer and sent him to help.

As for the less well-intentioned aliens, on the other hand:  Naturalization is the process of gaining United States citizenship. Becoming an American citizen is the ultimate goal for many immigrants, but very few people are aware that the requirements for naturalization have been over 200 years in the making.

Legislative History of Naturalization*

Before applying for naturalization, most immigrants must have spent 5 years as a permanent resident in the United States. How did we come up with the “5-year rule”?

Naturalization requirements are set out in the Immigration and Nationality Act, the basic body of immigration law. Before the INA was created in 1952, a variety of statutes governed immigration law.

·         Before the Act of March 26, 1790, naturalization was under the control of the individual states. This first federal activity established a uniform rule for naturalization by setting the residence requirement at 2 years.   The Act of January 29, 1795 repealed the 1790 act, and raised the residence requirement to 5 years. It also required, for the first time, a declaration of intention to seek citizenship at least 3 years before naturalization.

·         Along came the Naturalization Act of June 18, 1798 – a time when political tensions were running high and there was an increased desire to guard the nation. The residence requirement for naturalization was raised from 5 years to 14 years.  Four years later, Congress passed the Naturalization Act of April 14, 1802, which reduced the residence period for naturalization from 14 years back to 5 years.

·         The Act of May 26, 1824 made it easier for the naturalization of certain aliens who had entered the U.S. as minors, by setting a 2-year instead of a 3-year interval between declaration of intention and admission to citizenship.

·         The Act of May 11, 1922 was an extension of a 1921 Act, and included an amendment that changed the residency requirement in a Western Hemisphere country from 1 year to the current requirement of 5 years.

·         Noncitizens who had served honorably in the U.S. armed forces during the Vietnam conflict or in other periods of military hostilities were recognized in the Act of October 24, 1968. This act amended the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, providing an expedited naturalization process for these military members.  The 2-year continuous U.S. residence requirement was done away with in the Act of October 5, 1978.

·         A major overhaul of immigration law occurred with the Immigration Act of November 29, 1990. In it, state residency requirements were reduced to the current requirement of 3 months.

Today’s general naturalization requirements state that you must have 5 years as a lawful permanent resident in the U.S. prior to filing, with no single absence from the U.S. of more than 1 year. In addition, you must have been physically present in the U.S. for at least 30 months out of the previous 5 years and resided within a state or district for at least 3 months.   * Source:  about.com/immigration issues

Immigrants who came here didn’t just want to be “in America”; they wanted to be “Americans”.  They wanted to live in and be citizens of a nation governed by the rule of law, not by the dictates of a tyrant, a collective body, or even a beneficent monarch, all of whom had the power of life and death over their subjects.  Immigrants who came here wanted to be citizens, not subjects.

Those who came here didn’t expect or desire a life free of economic toil or anxiety.  They fled such countries, where they grew up learning that there was a price to be paid for the subsidization of their lives:  their freedom.  They sought to escape from the despotism, corruption, and danger of life in such countries.  Americans have taken those dangers, in their ignorance, for granted.  We have allowed our vigilance to be lulled by the temptation of a free lifestyle in exchange for free opportunity, and a mounting fear of political punition for defending that which is truly American.  We are surrendering what our descendants risked their lives for.

Americans are generous and tolerant.  We haven’t always been so, but we’ve tried to live up to the ideals of freedom.  Much blood has been spilt in reparation for mistakes made over a century and more ago.  Using that history as a cudgel, we are expected by an overweening government to open our borders to illegal aliens who care nothing about being American, but only care about being in America to take advantage of her increasing social and economic largesse.

If we are a nation of laws, then what should compel us to admit those whose very first act in coming here is to break the law?  What sort of citizens will they make, if this is their behavior?  What sort of Americans are these who refuse to assimilate in any manner?  Who refuse to learn the common language, English, refuse to learn our history, and above all, refuse to obey the laws?  If these are to be the new American citizens, America will cease to be a nation of laws, governed by a constitution that is supposed to restrict the size of government.  Their entry will guarantee the enlargement, despotism, and corruption of the government, for caring nothing about this country and the rule of law, they will bring their former culture of corruption with them.

Not long ago, a group of children, graduating from a kindergarten in Brooklyn, N.Y., was forbidden by the school principal to sing the Lee Greenwood song, “God Bless the U.S.A.”  The teacher deemed that such lyrics as, “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free” would be an offense to people from other cultures.  Later, when they and their parents found another free place in which to sing the song, the five year-olds were heckled by Progressive activists, who screamed at and called these innocent children offensive names.

Dissent of opinion is advocated, even by those who purport to love their country.  Patriotism, on the other hand, is derided as dangerous, likened to the national socialism of Nazi Germany.  To love America is to love freedom and the rule of law; it is nothing like Nazism.  That is why little children wave flags and sing “God Bless the U.S.A.” on the Fourth of July.  It is why the real Mia fought Nazism through the Dutch Underground, joined her countrymen on the streets of Maastricht to greet the American soldiers who’d come to liberate Holland with shouts of “God Bless America,” and after World War II, legally immigrated here with her husband, because she loved America so much.  She was proud to be an American.

 

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Published in: on July 4, 2012 at 4:56 pm  Comments (1)  

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