Who’s a Second-Class Citizen?

passport_eagleIn the February 4, 2014 edition of The New York Times, Daniel Tichenor, a professor of political science at the University of Oregon, wrote about the current immigration debate, “Few democratic principles are more elemental than the notion that people who are subject to government authority have political rights to influence how that authority is exercised.”  For him, that means that illegal aliens should have a path to U.S. citizenship.

Think about that though. Should foreigners in the United States as guest workers or foreign students or illegal residents or tourists have access to U.S. citizenship just because they are subject to the authority of the U.S. government? It is hard to imagine anyone would agree with that thesis.

Tichenor’s argument is similar to the cries from the amnesty advocates that it is unfair and un-American to treat illegal aliens as “second-class citizens.” That may sound catchy, but it is meaningless. The illegal aliens have a citizenship in the country they came from; they have no U.S. citizenship whatsoever.

The real issue in the immigration debate is whether the American people should be forced to accept foreigners who violated our immigration laws in the same way that those who come legally are accepted. That is the issue for the U.S. Congress to decide, although President Obama has been trying to prime the pump for an amnesty by tying the hands of the nation’s immigration law enforcement officers and by giving temporary amnesty to young illegal aliens.

About Author


Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).


  1. avatar

    What’s the point in proclaiming that citizenship is so terribly important, but then saying we have to give it to people who have been ignoring the laws that WE CITIZENS chose through our elected representatives? Who, through their actions as illegal aliens, have been devaluing citizenship for citizens of this country?

  2. avatar
    Capt John Johnson on

    Second class citizen all those who opposed change for a better future….and congressman who govern for the past but the present…..and all those thinking alilke….

    • avatar

      Am I Misinterperting You?

      Are you suggesting its fine for politicians to act against the majority legal American voter will?

      Our forefathers will turn in their graves if that’s what you meant.

      • avatar
        Capt. John Johnson on

        They are actually doing so by not caring at all……Congressmen should be subjected to the same # of …terms as the president…..a president single handed DOES NOT GOVERN the US..

        I meant look at the high schools and the Society and look at Congress two different social faces…….they should govern for the future NOT FOR THEM.

        My 3rd great- grandfather was a REAL forefather……….funded and fought the British and lost his limbs yet at the end of the revolutionary War and the birth of this country he was paid back badly by the GOV.

        So I know where I come from and where I am going……….In short, the day congressmen do not take for granted their positions, is the day we will be again the US how it used to be………………..

        As a result, no differently from Canada, EU, and other countries immigration reform is a moving target and it needs to be maintained and adjusted…..from time to time…not every 20 years or 50……

        So haven’t you noticed we are/have become 2nd class citizens if we are to be compared to our grandfathers………reality……

  3. avatar

    Once We Ignore Immigration Law Rule of Order

    Our whole legal system collapes for lack of trust.

    I read yesterday about a lady that was permanently excused from jury duty because she passed on this educated truth: oure legal system has become a joke….

  4. avatar

    This is the biggest joke in the world. “Government authority” says you have NO right to cross the border without permission, or to overstay a visa that has a leave date that you AGREED TO. It’s beyond disingenuous to suggest that those people should have “political rights to influence how that authority is exercised”. Let’s let bank robbers suggest the penalty for their crimes. What’s the difference.

    I constantly read things like it’s going to be great when “you white people are no longer in charge”. Besides the racism inherent in that statement, exactly who is you want to see “in charge”? Quite frankly, give me the tolerant Western democracies. Look at much of the Muslim world. It is in absolute chaos. People killing each other because they are each supposedly the “real” followers of Islam.

    Want to be like Mexico? Corrupt and violent. Murders go mostly unsolved and drug cartels rule large sections of the country. And because the inept government, itself overrun with corruption, cannot deal with the cartels, there are now militias to deal with them. Which brings it’s own set of consequences. Be like that or most of the rest of the world? No thank you, and only a fool would want to be. And we cannot save the people who refuse to save themselves and their countries.