What are citizens’ prerogatives?

While it will still be some time before immigration reform, the hot potato topic, hits the agenda on Capitol Hill, some states are taking proactive stances. Of course, here in Rhode Island the public awaits Governor Lincoln Chafee’s announcement on giving driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. While he seems on track to approve them, he should pause to reflect upon the fact that licenses are used for a variety of purposes, including program eligibility, that require identification. This slippery slope leads to other “privileges” for those non-citizens, which raises a question. What are the prerogatives of citizens?
Looking at the State of California gives some insight into where matters are headed. Democrats control the state legislature and sent democrat Governor Jerry Brown some eyebrow-raising “rights” for illegals, including drivers licenses. Last month the Governor signed legislation to stop local law officers from detaining illegal immigrants and transferring  them to federal authorities, unless they have committed certain serious crimes. In effect, this legislation creates its own  mini-immigration law that flauts federal law. Its lack of cooperation mirrors places like Providence, which at least under former Mayor, now Congressman, David  Cicilline, had a de facto sanctuary city. The Governor also nodded his approval to noncitizens monitoring polls for elections.
The batch of new California laws also allowed immigrants without legal status to be admitted to the bar and practice law in the state. Governor Brown finally drew the line when his democrat legislature sent him a provision allowing non-residents who are legally in the country to serve on jury duty. This wrong-headed proposal raises the issue in the words of the local newspaper, The Sacramento Bee, as to why green-card holders should ever become citizens if they can enjoy  the rights of citizens. The legislation will be reintroduced, since the sponsors think it’s ludicrous to let somebody who is undocumented argue in front of the jury, but not let somebody similarly situated to serve on that same jury.
Personally, I think this trend demeans citizenship. Fortunately, I have traveled to many countries whose citizens seem to know what their identity is. Clear demarcations exist to delimit who is and isn’t a full blown member of that society. There is nothing “racist” about having a melting pot where the “pot,” at least, exists on a foundation of  fundamental values and privileges.
As we approach  another election year voters should ask the candidates from the Council, Mayor, Governor, and up to Congress just what their respective stands are on these issues. The blurring of  rights and responsibilities raise profound questions as to national and local identity. Are there no rights or responsibilities that belong to citizens alone?
Congress has been dithering on this issue, so people like Governor Brown are homogenizing the prerogatives. These creations of localized laws create a momentum to nationalize these inroads. Most of the time little thought—as opposed to political opportunism—has been given to this erosion of what makes a United States Citizen just that. California, with its pandering to 10% of its population, is leading the rest of the country down a primrose path. Its influence has already reared its head 3000 miles away in Rhode Island.


Related posts