It can't be just handed off

Citizenship is an involved, earned obligation

Americans are among the most compassionate on Earth. That’s why arms, homes and wallets have opened up around the country for illegal immigrant children who have swarmed the southern border in the hope of a good life.

But America is more than place on a map that happens to be doing better than most around the world.

America is an idea, a set of principles, a way of life. Such things aren’t picked up by osmosis, even for natives. They must be taught and learned over years. Such things as the link between freedom and responsibility. The rule of law. Self-respect, and respect for others. Self-reliance and hard work. Private property rights – without which none of these other things matter.

Yes, America is a great melting pot – the most wonderful in history. Yet, you can’t make someone American by picking him up and plopping him down here – any more than you can make someone British that way.

This is why, even in the most diverse, welcoming nation in history, there is something called a “naturalization process.” Hint: It’s not about how to just get here.

Citizenship, native or naturalized, is a process. It’s an involved one, filled with solemn obligations.

Being American appears easy on the outside. Far from it. As with a duck’s feet, there’s a lot going on under the surface.

Citizenship is not something you can just give away, or be handed after landing like a lei in Honolulu.

If only Americans, and future Americans, respected that more.

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