My grandfather, Milton Freeman, was/is one of my heroes. A loving and kind man, he was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather. He was also a brilliant lawyer whose strong moral compass guided him to take important stands against the Truman loyalty boards, McCarthyism, and for the civil rights movement. He was important in my life but also the life of this nation.
One of his important achievements was his successful argumentation before the US Supreme Court in Schneider v. Rusk (1964). In that case he argued for the principle that naturalized citizens should have the same rights as natural born citizens. At issue was a statute that revoked the citizenship of naturalized citizens who resided in their country of birth for more than three years. His arguments won the day.
Justice Douglas wrote “This statute proceeds on the impermissible assumption that naturalized citizens as a class are less reliable, and bear less allegiance to this country than do the native born. This is an assumption that is impossible for us to make. Moreover, while the Fifth Amendment contains no equal protection clause, it does forbid discrimination that is “so unjustifiable as to be violative of due process.”
My grandfather was proud of this case. He would be incensed by the “Justice” Department’s targeting of naturalized citizens for increased scrutiny online. This is unacceptable. The only difference between naturalized citizens and natural born citizens is that natural born citizens may run for President (under the now dubious assumption that this would ensure that the president’s loyalties would be to the United States alone). This is a witch hunt. It is born in racism and nativism and is designed to undermine the rights of our fellow Americans.
It is also part of a creeping nativist agenda. It begins by targeting immigrants– those here visiting. It proceeds to target green card holders, then naturalized citizens. It moves on, of course, to those who this administration feels are not “truly” American. We can see this in the disparate treatment of those affected by Hurricanes Harvey & Irma and those affected by Hurricane Maria. (It came as a shock to far too many in this country that the people of Puerto Rico ARE US citizens.) We can see it as the administration targets Muslims and LGBTQ citizens of their 1st and 14th amendment rights and in the administration’s general approach to POC, seeking to deprive them not only of their 1st and 14th Amendment Rights but also those of the 4th, 5th and 6th Amendments.
Make no mistake, this doesn’t end with attacks on racial and ethnic minorities. These assaults will broaden as the administration targets those who disagree with them. We can already see this happening as the Justice Department subpoenas the social media account information of those involved in anti-administration activities. They are actively branding those they do not like as un-American and it is only a matter of time before they decide that the American Constitution does not apply to those the government deems Un-American.
Resist the nativist policies of this administration because they’re wrong. Resist because they’re unconstitutional. Resist because they’re dangerous. Resist because the danger spreads. Resist before we no longer have the right to do so. (And then keep resisting because that is all we will have left.)