US Citizenship

Two summers ago my sisters and I stepped off of an international flight at LaGuardia Airport. As we trudged down the ramp and headed for customs I was greeted by a sight you would probably see nowhere else in the world. There were two lines, on for citizens and permanent residents one for non-citizens. There were people from nearly every ethnic group speaking many different languages standing in the line for US citizens. You wouldn't see something like this in any other nation. In just about any other nation in the world the line for its citizens would be populated by people who for the most part looked the same and all spoke the same language.

Compared to other nations on this planet the US has the most generous criteria for attaining citizenship. US citizenship is basically open to anyone who is willing to follow the law. In other nations your family could have been living in said nation for generations and you still wouldn't qualify for citizenship. Many nations require that foreigners seeking citizenship show some ancestral connection to that nation. In the US all you have to do is live here and follow the law for five years and you're pretty much in. There's some having to put up with bureaucratic red tape and paper shuffling but that's just the American way. (See this comparison of the US and Japan's citizenship requirements. See also here and here for Germany's reformed citizenship requirements.)

Given that becoming a US citizen is so relatively simple and open to nearly everyone, why do so many refuse to follow the law to come here thereby sinking their chances of attaining citizenship? Too many want the perks of being a citizen without any of the responsibilities.


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