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// The importance of civic discourse

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Q: Should former U.S. residents be able to re-enter the U.S. if they left to join a terrorist group?


“Former United States residents should be allowed to re-enter the country, provided that they are US citizens, because such action would infringe upon their constitutional rights. Prohibiting a US citizen from re-entering their home country would, in effect, nullify a person’s citizenship without the person’s consent. However, as per the holding in Afroyim v. Rusk (1967), the government cannot revoke someone’s citizenship — only a citizen can. Furthermore, under Trop v. Dulles (1958), a punishment of denationalization violates the Eighth Amendment’s protection against cruel and unusual punishment. Revoking citizenship would violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process guarantees (afforded to both citizens and aliens alike), the Fourteenth Amendment’s birthright citizenship clause, and the Eighth Amendment’s protection against cruel and unusual punishment. Thus, blocking the re-entry of a US citizen would violate the Constitution. Instead, allowing the re-entry of a US resident would ensure justice and due process, and allow for a proper indictment and trial of such resident. For instance, Article III of the Constitution enumerates the crime of treason, which could arguably be applied in this situation. On another note, the First Amendment would permit the re-entry of a US resident in the above situation. It is a recognized judicial precedent that, in general, the government cannot censor speech based on its content (See R.A.V v. St. Paul, 1992, and NSPA v. Skokie, 1977). That a US citizen espouses radical ideologies does not generally allow the government to punish their speech.”

Aaron from California


“Terror groups actively work against American interests. Radical Islamic terrorists use the justification of jihad (a Holy war achieved by violence) to establish a global caliphate (Complete Islamic governance). ISIS has killed many U.S. citizens and U.S. soldiers. In the case of Hoda Muthana, she left her family in America and became an ISIS bride. Her decision to engage in radical Islamic terrorism shows a significant moral issue. She chose to align herself with a prominent terror group. Citizens who leave the U.S. to engage in radical jihad display a dangerous mentality. By not allowing them to return to the U.S. we are already carrying out justice toward these former citizens. Living in America is a privilege that citizens revoke when they join terror groups. Also, there is no way to prove that these returning civilians are not working for ISIS. ISIS already views American prisons as a recruitment tool. If the U.S. lets former prisoners return we give them more accessibility to carry on the cause of ISIS in America. We would be bringing the fight to our soil if we allowed ISIS fighters to infiltrate our American prisons. If these former citizens were willing to give up America to join arms with terrorists, they should not be allowed to return.”

Madeline from Texas

Think the Vote helps you to understand controversial topics and current events. Thinking through your vote is more than showing up on Election Day and picking the person that you like the best—it’s showing an interest in the world and the issues that surround you every day.

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“Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.”

– President John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961