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What makes a good citizen? What should be required of a citizen and how do you prove worthiness?
Last month, there was quite a rich conversation on KQED Do Now about immigration reform, as students examined the proposed changes to legal immigration to the United States and the path to obtaining citizenship. The discussion focused on immigrant rights and what policy should be put into place to attain citizenship. It invited a further question that examines more deeply the whole idea of citizenship and asks what makes a good citizen? What should be required of a citizen? Does the current application system measure worthiness or should different criteria be taken into consideration? Do you feel you meet these criteria yourself?
The USCIS website specifies what is required to seek US citizenship and clearly explains the value:
“Deciding to become a U.S. citizen is one of the most important decisions in an individual’s life. If you decide to apply to become a U.S. citizen, you will be showing your commitment to the United States and your loyalty to its Constitution. In return, you are rewarded with all the rights and privileges that are part of U.S. citizenship.”
But what is important here? Should a good citizen be able to demonstrate commitment through some kind of community involvement, like cleaning beaches, taking care of the environment, or community service? In other words are good character and social responsibility important?
How about social contribution such as skills and expertise or the ability and willingness to work, especially in areas where there is demand for labor.