Would you pass the U.S. Citizenship Test?

Were you not born in this country and had to take the citizenship test, would you pass?  Remember that citizenship is a concept that defines one’s relationship to the state.  There are essentially three types of citizenship–jus sanguinis, jus soli, and naturalization.  Craig Ferguson is now a naturalized US citizen.  On what basis did you receive your US citizenship?  Were you born on U.S. soil?  Were you born outside of the United States, but (at least) one of your parents was a US citizen at the time?

What Does One Have to do to Become Irish?

We had a (sometimes spirited) discussion in intro to comparative yesterday about patriotism, nationalism, citizenship and immigration. You may, therefore, find today’s story in the New York Times about a young 11-year-old lad who was born in Ireland and is about as culturally Irish as they come, except for the fact that his African born parents are illegal citizens in Ireland. As a result, his parents face the prospect of being exiled back to Africa, which would force the boy to go also. Quoting the NYT:

nigerian_irish_boy.jpgDUBLIN — Cork-born and proud of it, George-Jordan Dimbo is top to toe the Irish lad. He studies Gaelic, eats rashers, plays hurling, prays to the saints, papers his walls with parochial school awards, and spends Saturdays at the telly watching Dustin the Turkey, a wisecracking puppet, mock the powerful.

If the Irish government has its way, he may soon be living in Africa.

George, 11, is an Irish citizen and has been since his birth when Ireland, alone in Europe, still gave citizenship to anyone born on its soil. [Do you remember what the legal term for this is?] His mother and father, Ifedinma and Ethelbert Dimbo, are illegal immigrants from Nigeria, who brought him back to Ireland three years ago, judging it the best place to raise him.

Since then, the unusual trio — the Irish schoolboy and his African parents — have shared a single room in a worn Dublin hostel while facing a prospect dreaded by children on both sides of the Atlantic, a parent’s deportation.

“Dear justice minister,” George wrote when he was 9. “I heard my Mommy and Daddy whispering about deportation. Please do not deport us.”

“Remember,” he added, “I am also an Irish child.”

P.S. Bonus points for anyone who can tell me what rashers are!

You’ve got to Fight…for Your Right…to…Gain Citizenship

During our discussion in class today on different forms of group identity, many of you seemed surprised when I mentioned that there were many non-US citizens currently fighting for the US military in Iraq; many (a majority at least) are doing so in exchange for the promise of US citizenship. Which begs the questions, just how many non-citizens are currently serving in the US military? According to this paper (pdf),

“As of February 2003, there were 37,000 non-citizens serving in active duty in the U.S. armed forces, almost 12,000 foreign nationals serving in the selected reserves, and another 8,000 serving in the inactive national guard and ready reserves.”*

As we learned in class, prior to the establishment and consolidation of nation-states in Europe, post-Westphalia, most political leaders recruited mercenary armies. Thus, the link between military protection and citizenship is a modern phenomenon. This makes the results of a recent survey done by Foreign Policy Magazine very interesting.


Many proposals have been suggested to help the military meet its recruiting and retention needs. But an incredible percentage of the index’s officers favor the same solution: Nearly 80 percent support expanding options for legal, foreign permanent residents of the United States to serve in exchange for U.S. citizenship. A high percentage of officers, about 6 in 10, also support the idea of allowing more recruits who have a high school equivalency degree—but no diploma—to serve. Almost 40 percent favor reinstating the draft.

*Not all of these, of course, are serving in Iraq. Moreover, while it is a seemingly large number it is still a very small percentage of the total military.