Whether it be immigrants and refugees from surrounding countries or overseas, there is an underlying relationship between citizens’ rights and human rights where we have implicitly required the status of being a citizen to acquire privileges that are necessary for the wellbeing of individuals, citizen or not.
In her article, Hung describes two different versions of citizenship. The first being “citizenship-as-legal-status” (39), meaning “full membership in a particular community” is required to obtain citizenship status, and the second version being “citizenship-as-desirable-activity” (39), which is defined as status, feeling, and practice.
The current state that the United States is in, regarding how we define citizenship and how we treat those with that status and those without it, is more closely aligned with the idea of “citizenship-as-legal-status” (Hung 39). The legality aspect of citizenship has become the backbone of how we treat immigration, which is seen through the common interpretation of non-citizen immigrants as being illegal. However, the problem with this is the opaque distinction between citizens’ rights and human rights, leading to the exclusion of non-citizens from obtaining those privileges and rights that only citizens can legally obtain, without clearly distinguishing human rights and citizens’ rights in law.
I argue, therefore, that necessities for making a living today, in the United States, are being withheld from non-citizens due to ambiguous definitions of the status of citizenship that intervene with a non-citizen’s ability to live. I argue this through the lens of undocumented immigrants, specifically undocumented Latino students, who have traveled to the United States with their family per their parents’ decision, and cannot access the support they need to do better for themselves in a situation in which they did not put themselves. This is all because of a status given to them through law that restricts access to citizen benefits to non-citizens, including the support necessary to get a higher education in a country where that level of education is predicted to be required by 65% of jobs in the year 2020.
-- Joaquin Contreras
Ruyu, Hung. "Being Human or Being Citizen? Rethinking Human Rights and Citizenship Education in the Light of Agamben and Merleau-Ponty." Cambridge Journal of Education. Cambridge 42.1 (2012): 37-51. ProQuest. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.