Second-class citizen

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For the documentary, see Second Class Citizens.
For the usage in computer science, see First-class citizen.

A second-class citizen is a person who is systematically discriminated against within a state or other political jurisdiction, despite their nominal status as a citizen or legal resident there. While not necessarily slaves, outlaws or criminals, second-class citizens have limited legal rights, civil rights and socioeconomic opportunities, and are often subject to mistreatment or neglect at the hands of their putative superiors. Instead of being protected by the law, the law disregards a second-class citizen, or it may actually be used to harass them (see police misconduct and racial profiling). Systems with de facto second-class citizenry are generally regarded as violating human rights. Typical impediments facing second-class citizens include, but are not limited to, disenfranchisement (a lack or loss of voting rights), limitations on civil or military service (not including conscription in every case), as well as restrictions on language, religion, education, freedom of movement and association, weapons ownership, marriage, gender identity and expression, housing and property ownership.

The category is normally unofficial, and the term itself is generally used as a pejorative and governments will typically deny the existence of a second class within the polity. As an informal category, second-class citizenship is not objectively measured; however, cases such as the American South under segregation, apartheid in South Africa, and Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland during the parliamentary era are all examples of groups that have been historically described as having second-class citizenry.

By contrast, a resident alien or foreign national, and children in general, may have limited rights within a jurisdiction (such as not being able to vote, and having to register with the government), but is also given the law's protection[citation needed], and is usually accepted by the local population[citation needed]. A naturalized citizen carries essentially the same rights and responsibilities as any other citizen (a possible exception being ineligibility for certain public offices), and is also legally protected. Adopted people, in most states, have their original birth certificate sealed for 99 years at the time of their adoption and cannot access it without a court order for medical necessity.

Examples[edit]

A proposed American guest worker program has been criticized as creating second-class citizens.[1]

Susan Cain, author of the 2012 non-fiction book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, likened introverts today to women at the dawn of the feminist movement—second-class citizens with gigantic amounts of untapped talent.[2]

Latvian non-citizens constitute a group similar to second-class citizens.[3] Although they are not considered foreigners (they hold no other citizenship, have Latvian IDs, and most were born in Latvia), they have reduced rights compared to full citizens. For example, non-citizens are not eligible to vote or hold public office, and their economic rights are restricted by law. Estonian non-citizens are in a similar position. On 2 September 2012, the Central Election Commission received a draft for amendments to the Citizenship Law, providing that, from 1 January 2014, all non-citizens (a status held by former USSR citizens who do not possess citizenship of Latvia or any other state and who do not apply for citizenship while residing in Latvia, who by 30 November 2013 had not applied, under the rules of the Cabinet of Ministers, to retain the status of non-citizen shall be considered to be citizens of Latvia; these amendments would have automatically granted citizenship to any person who might have the status of non-citizen, without regard for place of residence, interest in acquiring citizenship of Latvia, and awareness of the amendments.[4]

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