The Dreamers of Athens

In ancient Athens, the assembly and many facets of government were largely controlled by Athenian citizens, and those who had maintained a high social status. Slaves and metics weren’t considered citizens and because of this they were considered below the people on the assembly. A similar issue is plaguing the United States today, with immigrants who lived their whole lives in America, not being considered citizens because of their parents birth place. These two issues are very similar in nature because both of them involve issues with the parents birthplace, their legality as citizens as a concept, and wariness of their loyalty to the country in which they are trying to become a part of. 

In Athens, a large portion of the population was made up of those who weren’t technically Athenian citizens, the slaves and metics, who made up a majority of the working class. These people were the backbone of Athens and many of them supported the war effort in numerous different ways. Due to this, many Athenians wanted them to be granted citizenship, but this was a debate due to the want to keep citizenship to only original Athenian citizens. In the constitution of Athens, Pericles states “it was decreed, on a motion of Pericles, that a person should not have the rights of citizenship unless both of his parents had been citizens.” (Aristotle). In the United States, a similar argument is given for why the Dreamers should not be given citizenship, with many stating that because they were not born here, and their parents are not from here, they don’t deserve to be considered. Another similarity is how in Athens they wanted a system to prove their merit and willingness to contribute to Athens. In the United States, the Dream and Promise Act states that anyone wanting to become a dreamer must have lived in the US for at least 4 years, were under the age of 18 when they came to the US, have passed a background check, and are enrolled in school or another valid program (American Progress). This provides the US a way to make sure that they have a basis for helping the US, and are on their way to being productive citizens. This is very similar to Athens, where they wanted to accept people based on involvement in the military, contributions to Athens, and overall merit. In these ways, Athens citizenship problem and the United States are very similar. They look at the overall merit, loyalty to the country, and are working to decide whether they should become citizens based off of that. 

My views on Dreamers and the Athenian situation were very similar to begin with. I supported the granting of citizenship based off of merit for both parties, but the discussion we had certainly refined my views. Looking at all the ways the slaves and metics especially benefited Athens made me consider how much allowing these Dreamers to become citizens could benefit the United States. I looked more at how they could contribute, and how they already are in many ways, and doing so really strengthened my views on how they could contribute. 

In the end, the Athenian citizenship problem and the United States citizenship problem are very similar in many different ways. They both involve the naturalization of non-citizens and their worth. These naturalization issues were centuries apart, but inherently have persisted, as history tends to repeat itself.

Constitution of Athens, Aristotle

-Chris Gregoire

-Word Count: 570

One thought on “The Dreamers of Athens

  1. I like what Chris has to say about making undocumented immigrants citizens based on their ability to help the United States. I liked how he stated the DACA requirements of living in the country for at least 4 years and have been enrolled in some sort of schooling. However I would add another requirement that could be added or replace the schooling requirement. I would argue that it is not only important that these immigrants have at least some schooling, but that they have proven they are working a job or have worked a job in the past. I agree with everything that Chris has said about merit being a factor in gaining citizenship, but I would like to see some proof that these immigrants are self sufficient and contributing to society either through work, or some sort of higher education. I think proof of a job or schooling for a job is important to show that the new citizen will not immediately receive government aid when they become legal.


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