In the midst of the ICE detention and threatened deportation of Iraqi Christians, many hundreds from the Detroit area, the question has arisen as to why these people are not citizens. For most, the short answer is that they were convicted of a crime before while still here on a green card. A green card holder (permanent resident) is someone who has been granted authorization to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. Among other requirements they are supposed to “obey all laws of the United States the states, and localities.” Thus, while its permanent status, it is with conditions.
Still, in many cases, these individuals had plenty of time and notification to get their citizenship but apparently never felt the need. With a green card, you can work, marry, buy a business, pay taxes and do everything a full citizen can do except vote. So there’s no real inconvenience to it until, of course, you commit a crime.
I was discussing this issue with a close friend who surprised the heck out of me. He came to this country when he was five years old. He’s now almost 50. When did he get his citizenship? Just about 20 years ago, one year after he was married. Why did he wait so long? He’s not sure. No reason in particular that he could recall. He just never got around to it.
Why is citizenship so important? In the United States, it’s everything. Without it, you are not guaranteed “Due Process.” The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution each contain a Due Process Clause. Due process deals with the administration of justice and acts as a safeguard from arbitrary denial of life, liberty, or property by the government outside the sanction of law.
The origins of the concept are studied by every high school student in America. While the application of due process and its place in American jurisprudence today are uniquely American, its origins are from the English “Magna Carta” or charter of liberties forced upon King John in 1215.
In clause 39 of Magna Carta, John of England promised:
“No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.”
No free man shall be…exiled…
Green card holders wait no more. Let what’s happening be the final lesson. Please.