In celebration of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, various civil activities have been scheduled in Long Island to emphasize both of these themes.
This Thursday September 17TH is Constitution Day, the anniversary of the day that delegates signed the Constitution in 1787 in Philadelphia. And it is also Citizenship Day, the day we honor those who became citizens by choice by swearing to uphold the Constitution.
The New York State Office for New Americans and the Pathway to Citizenship project will hold a press conference at noon on Thursday at the Hofstra University Club celebrating the hundreds of Long Island immigrants who have become citizens over the last year. Cesar Perales, New York’s Secretary of State, as well as representatives of Pathway partners like CARECEN and Citibank, will speak.
I will be speaking that evening at Westbury Village Hall at 7:00 PM on the topic of immigrants and the 14th Amendment. With presidential candidates doubting the applicability of the 14th Amendment, which grants birthright citizenship to nearly everyone born here, to immigrants, this is a timely topic.
There will also be voter registration and education activities in immigrant communities coordinated by the Long Island Civic Engagement Table.
This work is particularly necessary this year. When one politician says that he doubts that the children of immigrants are U.S. citizens, even if they are born here, and another claims that the Dred Scott decision, which says that blacks cannot be citizens, is still good law, Americans need a course in Constitutional history.
We should be proud of our Constitution, including the extension of Constitutional rights, which came with the ratification of the 14th Amendment after the Civil War. But our pride should not be ignorant boastfulness. We need to learn about the Constitution in order to defend it and the democratic republic, which it protects.