NATION
Opinion

The 21st century citizen

The idea of citizenship in America is under pressure from many sides. Immigration has created a large population of residents outside the boundaries of citizenship, cultural blending has produced many Americans with loyalties to other nations, and corporations have come to enjoy some of the privileges once reserved for individual citizens. Those and other aspects of the changing nature of citizenship are the subjects of The 21st Century Citizen, a project that originates in a series of editorials by The Times editorial board and broadens here to include contributions by other writers and thinkers on the questions they raise.

We also put this core question — What does it mean to be a citizen? — to a range of Southern Californians. Here is a series of video interviews chronicling their views and personal stories.

Want to join the conversation? Share your thoughts, rebuttals and experiences with us at letters@latimes.com.

Follow the conversation on Twitter at #21stCenturyCitizen

 

  • Does the 'good corporate citizen' get a say in the political process?

    Does the 'good corporate citizen' get a say in the political process?

    This year, in criticizing U.S. firms that moved their headquarters to lower-tax countries, President Obama said that corporate executives are paid not only to maximize profits but also to be "good corporate citizens." That corporations can and should be "good citizens" is a familiar idea, and a...

  • Citizenship 101: Too many Americans are ignorant of the basics of democracy

    Citizenship 101: Too many Americans are ignorant of the basics of democracy

    In 1954, when the Supreme Court ruled that segregated public schools were unconstitutional, Chief Justice Earl Warren emphasized the importance of public education as a crucible for good citizenship.“Today,” Warren wrote, “education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments....

  • The problem of dual citizenship

    The problem of dual citizenship

    Before becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen, immigrants must take an oath that says, in part, "I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been...

  • Give noncitizens the right to vote? It's only fair

    Give noncitizens the right to vote? It's only fair

    The contemporary immigrant rights movement has commanded attention through civil disobedience, student walkouts and intensive lobbying. But there's another tactic — increasing immigrant clout by allowing all noncitizens to vote — that also deserves serious consideration.Many Americans understandably...

  • Should non-citizens in the U.S. vote?

    Should non-citizens in the U.S. vote?

    As of Jan. 1, 2012, an estimated 13.3 million lawful permanent residents lived in the United States, and 8.8 million of them were eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship but had not done so. In California, 2.48 million out of 3.4 million green-card holders were eligible to apply but chose not to....

  • Non-citizens: A right to vote, or not?

    To the editor: You bring up some very compelling arguments for voting rights for noncitizens who are in this country legally and pay local, state and federal taxes.  ( “Should non-citizens vote?” Editorial, Dec. 21 and “Noncitizens voting? It’s only fair,” Opinion, Dec. 23) Your quoting of the...

  • Religion in America: Good without God?

    Religion in America: Good without God?

    There are certain topics on which our letter writers and online commenters talk past the author of the piece who prompted them to respond. They don't address points raised in the original article; instead, they use the piece as a way to express whatever unassailably strong opinions they have on...

  • Patriotic Americans have the right not to believe in any God

    Patriotic Americans have the right not to believe in any God

    Belief in God is obviously not a legal requirement for U.S. citizenship. Yet, as we observed in the first editorial in this series, citizenship has meanings that are deeper and more subtle than legal permission to live in this country. For many Americans, one important aspect of citizenship in...

  • Does speaking English make an immigrant more American?

    Does speaking English make an immigrant more American?

    The Times' meditations over the last several weeks on what U.S. citizenship means in the 21st century -- exploring topics such as dual nationality, byzantine immigration laws, permanent residency versus citizenship and, most recently, English proficiency -- have elicited mostly thoughtful, measured...

  • English for Americans: Encouraged but not required

    English for Americans: Encouraged but not required

    The terms “American” and “U.S. citizen” are used interchangeably, but it is widely understood that there is more to being an American than possessing citizenship. The late Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington noted approvingly in his 2004 book “Who Are We?” that historically, immigrants...

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