Earned Citizenship

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Immigration is arguably the most contentious political issue of the last ten years. With nearly eleven million unauthorized immigrants in the United States, it is an issue demanding not just our attention and passion but our reason. In his new book Earned Citizenship Michael Sullivan tackles immigration by asking ‘what makes us a citizen?’ He then proceeds to offer a dispassionate but morally rigorous examination of what we owe each other as members of a community.

This community perspective gives Sullivan the necessary angle to approach the issue using a factual and philosophical lens. However, it doesn’t ignore the intensely personal contours of immigration. Most unauthorized immigrants have lived alongside citizens for several years becoming an integral part of communities across the nation. Sullivan looks to how and why we ought to provide these individuals with the legal framework to become full citizens; his is a moral argument for legal change.

Specifically, Sullivan sees an ethical dilemma in blocking, preventing, or denying unauthorized immigrants the ability to achieve citizenship. This is most explicitly shown when immigrants enter military service but are refused citizenship. Sullivan makes the case service to the community (especially military service) is an act of restitution for violation of immigration law. It’s difficult to imagine engaging in any discussion of immigration without abutting these issues.

The prose isn’t so much dense as it is demanding. Following Sullivan’s argumentation isn’t difficult, but readers must engage with the reasoning and, most importantly, make moral decisions. Earned Citizenship is vitally effective because readers aren’t simply expanding their knowledge framework but are required to make ongoing ethical decisions and to live out that morality in their everyday lives. It is a challenging and engrossing book.

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Author Michael J. Sullivan
Star Count /5
Format eBook
Page Count 296 pages
Publish Date 16-Apr-2019
ISBN 9780190918354
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue July 2019
Category Philosophy


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