Page 43 - Foreign Service Journal - September 2013

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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
SEPTEMBER 2013
43
We need to have an
honest debate with
Congress and with
State about what U.S.
citizenship means, and
how our immigration
law should refect that
understanding.
argue it is in our critical strategic interest to try to instill these
values in foreigners who aren’t applying for citizenship?
We the People
Let us close by returning to our initial question: What does it
mean to be an American?
Open your passport and fip through it. On every page you
will see quotes from our greatest leaders talking about the
values of freedom of speech, civil rights and the love of liberty
that make Americans who we are. We are not a nation of any
particular ethnicity, race or clan; the only thing binding us
together is these shared values. So, unless we ensure that all
new Americans actually do share them, the very defnition of
being an American will become a lot less clear.
Now turn to the biographic page, which lists all the core
details about your identity. Above your photo, name, place of
birth and signature, you’ll fnd in very large print the open-
ing words of our Constitution: “We the People of the United
States.”
If those words are to continue to mean something coher-
ent—if we as diplomats are to continue to be able to speak on
behalf of all our fellow Americans—then we need to have an
honest debate with Congress and with the Department of State
about what U.S. citizenship means, and how our immigration
law should refect that understanding.
Tose of us in the Foreign Service are on the front lines
interacting with American citizens abroad every day. We have
much to contribute to this debate.
n