Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Figures

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pp. ix-x

List of Tables

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pp. xi-xii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xvi

The idea for this book was born out of conversations with my dear friend and colleague, Sharon Bzostek, who first suggested that I investigate immigrant naturalization after hearing the account of my own experiences acquiring American citizenship. Many kind and thoughtful individuals helped my research and writing along the way. But there would be no book without the dozens of immigrants who graciously answered my questions at what was undoubtedly an exhausting and nerve-racking point in their lives. I am thankful for their help in understanding the naturalization process, as well as for the help of Shawn Saucier,...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-12

In April 2000, I became an American citizen. I sat in my assigned seat in the center of a large auditorium in downtown Brooklyn, in a crowd of about four hundred other immigrants. Together, we followed directions to stand and sit, recite the words of the Oath of Allegiance, and sing the national anthem. The letter from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) specified business clothing, and I had borrowed a blazer for the occasion. Outside, it was a chilly overcast morning, but inside there were no windows and the yellow lights were dim. The speakers on stage paced around with a tinny microphone,...

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1. The Roads to Citizenship

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pp. 13-45

Contemporary debates about immigration often focus on undocumented immigrants, or those people who live in the United States without legal documentation. In these conversations, citizenship is held up as the opposite of undocumented status, emphasizing the line between citizens and all noncitizens, legal permanent residents or not (Motomura 2006). One contentious example concerns drivers’ licenses: most states bar undocumented immigrants from obtaining them, causing hardship and public safety concerns. In debates surrounding the license issue, the undocumented are compared to citizens, who...

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2. Citizenship and Inequality

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pp. 46-60

The road to citizenship presents immigrants with obstacles, requiring resources that are within reach for some but not for many others. Financial assets, the ability to speak English, knowledge of the immigration system, and access to immigration attorneys or advocates are not randomly distributed. In this chapter, I investigate how the distribution of citizenship intersects with such powerful axes of inequality as class and race. Does citizenship exacerbate existing inequalities or does it ameliorate their effects? Are the most disadvantaged immigrants further fettered by lack of formal citizenship? Do educated elites enjoy unlimited...

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3. Voices of Immigrants

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pp. 61-82

Citizenship status matters to immigrants because it confers political membership, protects them from deportation, and carries other benefits with tangible material consequences. It also has the potential to increase the power of ethnic and immigrant groups. But naturalization of immigrants is important for the nation as a whole. Nations are more than geographical areas covering the planet in a checkerboard of borders; they are premised on the idea of the correspondence of a people to a polity, defined by difference, boundaries, and processes of exclusion from their neighbors. By definition, then, immigration threatens the nation by introducing an influx of foreigners who break...

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4. Citizenship Ceremonies

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pp. 83-105

The citizenship ceremony is the culmination of the naturalization process. It is at these ceremonies that immigrants are formally inducted into full American citizenship. The legal transformation occurs with the recitation of the Oath of Allegiance. The image of rows of immigrants with their right hands held up midoath that is sometimes shown on the news is what most native-born Americans have in mind when they think about naturalization. Yet the citizenship ceremony is much more than just the oath. A host of rituals and procedures have grown around it, from patriotic performances such as the singing of the national anthem and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, to elements particular...

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5. Welcoming and Defining

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pp. 106-129

The speeches made to new citizens are the most notable component of the citizenship ceremony from the perspective of trying to understand naturalization in the United States. These remarks contain a fascinating variety of material. Speakers, who might be immigration officials, judges, local politicians, or other prominent individuals, talk to new immigrants about what it means to become American, the differences between citizenship through naturalization and citizenship through birth, the role of immigration in the United States, and many other subjects that shed light on the meaning of naturalization. These ceremony...

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6. Naturalization in Theory and Practice

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pp. 130-140

The concept of citizenship has many positive connotations, suggesting active involvement, realization of rights, and inclusion. Yet American citizenship is also an internal boundary that circles a set of advantages and resources from which many are excluded. Inclusion in the inner circle of membership is predicated on the exclusion not only of those outside of the nation’s boundaries but of many people who live and work in the United States (Bosniak 2006). To take it one step further, citizenship is a location of privilege, and its power is supported by discourses that associate citizenship with morality and territorial...

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Appendix. Results of Multivariate Analysis Predicting Citizenship Status among Immigrants

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pp. 141-144

Data for analysis comes from merging four waves of the U.S. Census: 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000 (Ruggles et al. 2004). I use the 1 percent Public Use Microdata Samples (PUMS) for all waves. The sample in this study includes foreign-born people aged twenty-five and over at the time of the census. Since naturalization decisions are likely to be quite different for immigrants who arrive as children or for those who acquire college education in the United States, analysis is limited to...

Notes

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pp. 145-152

References

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pp. 153-164

Index

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pp. 165-172

About the Author

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pp. 173-174