Natural and “Unnatural” Citizens

Everyone is skipping right past the deeper meaning of the little detail that the New York “devicer” (I guess “bomber” is now a trigger warning term?—heh) Ahmad Khan Rahami is a “naturalized” American citizen, having immigrated from Afghanistan some years ago. Stop right there, and let’s think for a moment about what the term “naturalized citizen” ought to mean, for in the case of Mr. Rahami, his “naturalization” process clearly failed. What to do?

The 14th Amendment begins, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.” The idea that a foreign-born person can be “naturalized” presumes that there is a “nature” to U.S. citizenship, distinct from the nature of citizenship in other nations. This idea can be traced back to a certain founding statement about “the laws of nature and nature’s God.” One thing those 18th century liberals understood is that it was a violation of those laws of nature for a sect to impose its religious views on non-consenting fellow citizens, or to deny to fellow citizens their own right of conscience. Clearly killing someone deprives fellow citizens of all their rights, but the fundamental sin of jihadism is the premise that Islam should be the source for all positive law, to be imposed by force if necessary. If this isn’t an “un-American” view, then I guess we should just go back to hunting Communists.

Section V of the 14th Amendment reads: “The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.” Yesterday Paul recommended the radical step of prohibiting immigration from Somalia (an executive power expressly delegated in the 1965 immigration act) for a period of time. I’ll see him and raise him: Congress should enact “appropriate” legislation stating that “naturalized” citizens who embrace jihad have failed the obligations of naturalization, and thereby forfeit their citizenship and are subject to deportation. (Perhaps Congress could make “naturalization” conditional on a long probationary period of good behavior.)

Yes, I’ll leave aside for the moment that we don’t do a very good job of educating natural born citizens about the nature of American citizenship any more. That’s one reason why the firestorm over my modest proposal would have a salutary effect.

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