According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a citizen is a native or naturalized person who owes allegiance to a government and is entitled to protection from it.
Let’s unpack that.
A native is someone born into a specific territory. That territory could be on the national, state, or local levels.
A person is naturalized to a territory when they are assigned the same rights and obligations as natives.
People born into or naturalized to a territory are subject to the rights and obligations assigned to them by the constitution empowering and limiting the government controlling that territory.
These ideas are all contained in Section 1 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”« Back to Glossary Index