Good Morning
Good Morning
OpinionColumnistsWilliam F. B. O'Reilly

What's citizenship worth these days?

A voter entering a voting booth at Asharoken

A voter entering a voting booth at Asharoken Village Hall. Credit: Newsday/Jim Peppler

New Yorkers are the nicest people on Earth. Don't listen to what anyone says. Just look at how they're trying to erase the barriers between citizens and noncitizens. It's egalitarianism at its finest.

First, New York guaranteed education and medical services to all, regardless of legal status (how do you not do that?). Then, beginning with the Koch administration, it declared itself a sanctuary city, meaning that anyone living in the boroughs unlawfully will never be turned into the feds, so long as they don't commit violent crimes. This year, under Mayor Bill de Blasio, the city began issuing municipal ID cards. They're available to any resident 14 and older, but the cards are designed for noncitizens to make life in the big city -- and beyond -- easier.

Now, the City Council is unveiling long-talked-about legislation to allow noncitizens to vote in municipal elections. Applicants would have to live in NYC for six months and be living in the United States legally to qualify -- green card holders for example -- but President Barack Obama's executive generosity is about to make that a large number of people. If the bill becomes law, there should be more votes available for candidates offering even greater equalization strategies. The mayor, meanwhile, is trying to roll back a post-9/11 security enhancement that prevents immigrants here illegally from getting driver's licenses.

The lines between citizenship and noncitizenship are melting away indeed.

These actions speak to the big-heartedness of New Yorkers as reflected by their representatives. Sure, there's politics at play -- the Democratic Party prostrates itself to the Hispanic lobby -- but generosity of spirit is a NYC trait. Ask the lady in the harbor.

But at what point does it become a better deal for New Yorkers to give up their citizenship rather than to keep it? At what point will New Yorkers be guaranteed all the benefits of citizenship without having to meet its responsibilities, like paying local, state and federal taxes? Sure, noncitizens are supposed to pay taxes, but it's easier to evade them when you're living off the grid. And what would be the downside exactly in a city that has erased all lines?

People used to flock to New York to become Americans. A day is coming where that will seem like a quaint notion.