Citizenship in America

What does being a part of "The Land of Opportunity" entail?

I believe that everyone can benefit in some way from knowing this information, so hopefully you'll learn about your individual rights, responsibilities, and how to be naturalized.

Individual Rights

The Constitution grants us the individual rights that we have. The first few amendments are the main ones that grant us our basic individual rights, but there are quite a few others as well. We are very lucky to have these rights. We often take them for granted, but in many other countries, their personal rights are not protected and they don't have many of these rights. There could be discrimination because of where they're from, their race, gender, etc.



Some of our guaranteed individual rights include the freedoms of/to:

  • speech, religion, press (1st amendment)
  • bear arms (2nd amendment)
  • you're not required to house soldiers (3rd amendment)
  • you can't be searched without a warrant (4th amendment)
  • you can't be a witness against yourself, right to remain silent (5th amendment)
  • you have the right to a speedy public trial (6th amendment)
  • you have the right to a trial by jury in cases exceeding $20 and you can't be tried twice for the same thing (7th amendment)
  • no cruel or unusual punishments (8th amendment)
  • people have rights not specifically listed in the Constitution (9th amendment)
  • the rights not listed in the Constitution belong to the states (10th amendment)


It's important to know these rights so that you can know when they're being violated and take action. For example, if you get approached by a police officer and he wants to search you but doesn't have a warrant, you could request one.

Responsibilities

As citizens of the United States, we have certain mandatory and voluntary responsibilities. They include:


Mandatory:

  • Pay taxes - We have to fund the government to continue to have the services that we have. For example, road repairs need to be funded and police officers and firefighters need to be paid.
  • Follow the law - It's important to follow the law to ensure that yourself and everyone else is safe and things are fair.
  • Jury duty - Everyone has the right to a speedy public trial by jury. You'll have to serve on the jury at some point as an American citizen.


Voluntary: (These are not required but are highly encouraged)

  • Voting - We must vote so that we can choose our leaders and make a difference for ourselves. Since we luckily get a say in our leaders, we should vote for someone that we believe has good morals, standards, beliefs, etc.
  • Military service - You are not required by law to serve in the military, but it's encouraged.

Naturalization

As for naturalization to become an official U.S. citizen, there are some requirements. Those are:


  • You must be at least 18 years old and have lived in the United States for 5 years.
  • You must pass an interview.
  • You must take an oath.
  • You must have some understanding on how to read and write in English.
  • You must pass an oral U.S. citizenship test.


You're pretty much required to have a basic understanding of U.S. history and government, knowing about the Constitution, influential people, and basic government positions.


However, on the test, I don't believe it's fair to ask about positions of the President's Cabinet, because it might not have been of the person's interest and there's not really any reason you would need to know that unless you were interested specifically in those jobs. Many people in the United States probably don't even know what the President's Cabinet is, so why should the new citizens?

Thanks for listening!