So, John Lamb over at Hispanic Nashville Notbebook sent me an email with this question:
A question for you – would you support the following amendment to the U.S. Constitution? The current text says “All persons born or naturalized in the United States are citizens of the United States and of the State in which they reside.” Would you be willing to add, “All persons with [X] years of physical presence in the United States are legal residents of the United States and of the State in which they reside.” If so, what number would you put in the [X]?
Here’s the background he gave me on it.
First – the U.S. government, from the time of George Washington to around the time of Abraham Lincoln, let pretty much everyone who ever stepped foot in the United States have legal residency immediately and apply for citizenship after only about 3 years. They never imagined an immigration system that would increasingly narrow the definition of “American” over time to systematically exclude people with years and years of life lived in the U.S.Second – Martin Luther King, Jr., in Letter from Birmingham Jail, said, “Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.” I’ve heard it said a different way, as well: “If you’re here, you’re us.” Or put yet another way, the more time you spend in the U.S., the more American you become.