When someone is applying to be a United States citizen, they retain the right to express their views on war and other topics that might be seen by some as controversial. If they feel it is immoral or unethical to participate in a military effort, it should not affect their citizenship and naturalization efforts. For one California woman that is directly the opposite of what happened.
The woman recently filed a citizenship application. On it, she listed herself as a conscientious objector. This means she is unwilling, due to moral objections, to go to war for the United States if asked to do so. She said she has strong objections to war and the loss of human life it represents.
Someone attempting to obtain citizenship retains the right to express their opposition to war. They typically do so because they have objections based on the dictates of their religion. Moral and ethical reasons are also meant to be valid reasons to register for conscientious objector status. The woman’s application was turned down because immigration authorities felt that, since her views were based on secular beliefs rather than those held for religious reasons, her views were not valid.
The woman says she knows she has a very low probability of ever being called upon to bear arms but that fact is irrelevant. She said in a statement that accompanied her application that it would have been easier to just mark the box “yes” when asked about her willingness to go to war. She said to do so would have been a betrayal of the beliefs she’s held since she was very young.
Attorneys from a humanist association have added their talents to further the woman’s cause. They say to deny her citizenship and naturalization efforts for this reason is a direct contradiction of her constitutional rights. As she continues her battle for citizenship, immigrants in California and elsewhere will be watching to see how the case is resolved. For those who hold similar beliefs about war, the outcome could be life changing.
Source: Salon, Woman’s citizenship application rejected because she objects to war, isn’t religious, Katie McDonough, Feb. 28, 2014