Among the most heated topics in our Athenian Assembly was citizenship rights; should metics and slaves be accepted as citizens in Athens, or perhaps granted a pathway to do so? Similarly, disagreements over citizenship rights in America (specifically pertaining to DACA- The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy), have resulted in Supreme Court hearings on 12 November, 2019. My opinion on the matter was greatly influenced by our assembly, and thus, my stance on legal protection aligns closely with the decision agreed upon during the electorate debate of the Athenian Assembly.
My opinion on immigration in America has, for a long time, aligned closely with that of my parents and community in which I was raised. Coming from a conservative family in the south, and having been educated in a military manner since my youth, I developed a “patriotic” point of view: Americans are born here, immigrants are not, and therefore they must go. I have come to understand how naïve this opinion really was. One of the biggest influencers on my point of view was Lysias- a metic not born in Athens, but a great contributor to Athenian society, and one that considers Athens his home. It would be foolish, then, for an upstanding member of society such as Lysias to be removed from the Athens electorate. A further consequence of not allowing Athenian citizenship to be open to outsiders was a preservation of aristocracy. This topic is touched upon in the “Athenian Politics” section of Old Oligarch. “To have any form of election involved ‘aristocracy’ in the Greek sense- the selection of the best men for the job- and this was not democratic” (Old Oligarch I,2-9). I agree strongly with the decision made during our assembly, under which a metic is allowed to become a citizen provided they are educated. I do not support the stipulation that a metic must own land. In modern context, and immigrant would be better off investing in education than owning land.
Much as Lysias was to Athens, so too are many “Dreamers” (children brought here illegally before age 16), to America. Apple CEO Tim Cook has recently discussed his employment of 443 DACA recipients. These men and women are among the brightest n the world, as demonstrated by their employment in a top technology company. A major repercussion of rescinding DACA would be denying these “dreamers” access to health care and other medical treatment, making it exponentially harder to live in America without citizenship. This decision would have major physical and mental draw backs. As discussed in Dreams Deferred — The Public Health Consequences of Rescinding DACA, “The evidence clearly indicates that rescinding DACA will have profound adverse population-level effects on mental health. Moreover, these effects will most likely be potentiated by the broader hostile political climate surrounding immigration.”
Clearly, the exact details I believe should apply to immigration would not fit within the confines of this blog post. However, I do believe DACA Recipients, and the “Dreamers” this policy impacts, deserve a chance to prove their contribution to American society. If one is educated, working, and upstanding, there should be no reason to deny them basic rights. On the other hand, if an immigrant is stagnant, or actively contributing in a negative way (such as selling illegal paraphernalia, gang activity, etc.), then their place in America should be given to someone else. Much of this change in thought has stemmed from our Athenian Assembly, and I believe the issues at hand today relate closely with those of the electorate debates.
Word Count: 588
Xenophon, , J L. Marr, and P J. Rhodes. The ‘old Oligarch’: The Constitution of the Athenians Attributed to Xenophon. Oxford: Aris & Phillips/Oxbow, 2008. Print.
Venkataramani, Atheendar S., and Alexander C. Tsai. “Dreams Deferred — the Public Health Consequences of Rescinding DACA.” The New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 377, no. 18, 2017, pp. 1707-1709.
Meisenzahl, Mary. “Apple CEO Tim Cook Filed a Legal Brief to the Supreme Court to Protect ‘Dreamers’ from the Trump Administration.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 2 Oct. 2019, http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-tim-cook-deirdre-obrien-amicus-brief-support-daca-2019-10.