Constitution and Citizenship Day Blogging

17 09 2008

Origins of Citizenship and Constitution Day

On September 17, 1787, the final draft of the U.S. Constitution was signed by 39 delegates to articulate our freedoms and the broad parameters on which Americans would govern themselves as a country.  In celebration of the day Congress made September 17th Constitution Day/Citizenship Day in 2004 and mandated the teaching of the Constitution in schools that receive federal funds.  The week in which Constitution Day falls is also known as Constitution Week. According to Wikipedia, prior to the enactment of the law it was also known as Citizenship Day.

Click here to read the full text of the U.S. Constitution.

Report: Expensive Fees Cause Dip in Citizenship Applications
According to a new report published last week by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrants and Refugee Rights entitled, “Priced Out: U.S. Citizenship A Privilege for the Rich and the Educated” the Bush administration has made citizenship less accessible and expensive for immigrants. Since the last fee increase in July 2007, 59 percent fewer immigrants applied for citizenship. Advocates cite the corresponding increasing in application fees as a reason, which went from $400 to $675 in July of 2007. The report also notes how while there has been a 27 percent increase in the minimum wage in the last decade, citizenship application fees went up 610 percent. There has also been dramatic drop in the number of citizenship applications filed during the past year in many if not all states with large population of foreign born people.

The report recommends experimenting with microloans and employer assistance programs to make the application process more affordable. The authors also recommend the passage of the Obama-Gutierrez Citizenship Promotion Act of 2007, which among other things, would require a study of the sluggishness of the FBI background check process and to identify obstacles to timely completion of the checks. It would also authorize funds for the USCIS to grant to community-based organizations to help prepare immigrants to become citizens.

Anti-immigrant Activists Lobby Congress
In response to recent lobbying efforts by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an ant-immigrant organization with ties to white supremacists, the Service Employees International Union, the National Council on La Raza placed a full page ad in Roll Call and Politico. The ad featured images of white nationalists and other hate groups and quotes from prominent FAIR supporters. “As Whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?” asks John Tanton the organization’s founder and top donor. “Should we be subsidizing people with low IQs to have as many children as possible?” asks FAIR’s current president Dan Stein. “New cultures…[in the U.S. are] diluting what we are and who we are,” warns another FAIR supporter.

The sponsors of the ad ask the reader “When Did Extreme Become Mainstream?” Good strong stuff.  Strong enough in fact to put FAIR on the defensive to issue a response where it called the ad “vitriolic” and said the ads sponsors were nearly calling all Americans one big hate group. I suppose FAIR believes they feel as if they speak on the behalf of all Americans.

National Polls Say Most Americans Approve of Immigration
Interestingly enough, despite the tenor of anti-immigrant sentiment during the past year, more than 60 percent of all Americans have consistently said immigration is a good thing for the country ever since mid-2005.

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