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America: An Open or Closed Nation?

December 10, 2015
Plain English Version


Most countries say that citizenship comes from your parents. The United States says that if you are born here, you are a citizen. America is known as a land of immigrants. Almost everyone in the U.S. can trace their background to an immigrant.

Donald Trump says he want to bar all non-U.S. citizen Muslims from entering the U.S. He wants to block them at least for a while. Can a president do that? The answer is not clear. Some experts say yes.

The Constitution and laws of the land protect people who have legal status. Non-citizens who have a green card or a visa have legal status. People without legal status are not protected by most of our laws.

Undocumented children can go to public school. Emergency rooms have to take everyone who comes. Beyond that, there are few rights to which the undocumented are entitled.

Presidents have broad powers to safeguard the homeland. He or she may say there are people who should not be allowed in. They have to have a good reason. The federal courts do not usually question their authority.

Most Americans believe America should be open to new arrivals. Recent shootings in the U.S. and France are linked to Muslim terrorists. People are beginning to fear Muslims.

Politicians are using that fear to get votes. The Republican Party has a contest for who will be its candidate for president. Mr. Trump is an extreme “anti-terrorist.” He thinks his view will help him get nominated.

Muslims are not a threat to the nation. Muslim terrorists are. There is a battle ahead. Will those who want America to stay open to newcomers win over those who want America to shut down its borders?

It is a question for all Americans. It is a challenge for Muslims. In some way they will have to make the case that they are loyal to this country.

Source: The New York Times December 8, 2015

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