If for some reason it had not yet been time to really address the concept of citizenship, now is the time. Once congress is back in session, birthright citizenship will be the next hot topic of debate. The 14th amendment gave ex-slaves and their children the citizenship they did not have before, and has since applied to anyone born on US soil (aside from a few cases), including the racist-tizzy-inducing undocumented immigrants’ children, called by the derogatory term, “anchor babies.”
The focus on birthright citizenship, if it does not succeed in changing the 14th amendment, may have a chance at shifting the debate in the favor of the racists. They not only want to remove all undocumented immigrants from the country, but their children as well. While they claim that their concern is over the law (‘Illegal is not a race, it’s a crime’, Pearce says) as of right now, the so-called “anchor babies” have not committed any crime, yet they are to be ousted as well. The immigrants’ rights movement will find it necessary to focus on defending the children of undocumented parents and retreat from the defense of undocumented immigrants themselves. This may look similar to the hierarchy created between the more deserving and the less deserving created by the debate around the Dream Act. We cannot allow them to shift the debate in this way. We need to shift it in the direction of questioning the concept of citizenship and the legitimacy of the country in the first place.
So we must ask, what does citizenship mean? We should especially ask this in the context of the fact that the US is on stolen land. What does it mean for some settlers to seize a bunch of land and declare that they are citizens and the original peoples are not (it took a while for indigenous people to be counted as citizens even after ex-slaves were included), and then continue to do this to many people who are in fact more indigenous to this continent than the settlers are. Not only are they withholding citizenship and the rights and privileges it entails; they are criminalizing most of the folks who reside in the US who are not citizens. This means detention centers, deportation, fear, etc.
Citizenship is based on theft, domination, and criminalization.
Certainly there are many of us who are counted as citizens who do not have allegiance to the US government. However, in many ways citizenship is about loyalty to this system. In what ways can we call this into question? This all deserves much more attention and discussion.
US out of North America!