ABC News examines citizenship and patriotism for Independence Day

Experts and real people weigh in on the meaning of citizenship, the current state of immigration in America and what it truly means to be an American.
30:20 | 07/05/19

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Transcript for ABC News examines citizenship and patriotism for Independence Day
Welcome to special edition of the briefing room from the National Mall on Devin Dwyer and Mary Alice parks on the nation's birthday flat across the country. Being an American mean to you to be admitted in his Cleveland did this evening's end. And why do fewer Americans than ever say they're proud to be from the USA. And would soon lead the world. Plus what will it take to solve the crisis at the southern border and can anything get done as we head into the 20/20 campaign. And we meet the famous Americans says his picks for partisanship in this town. He's magic. Right now on the briefly. And they're pretty great to have you with that's what this is no better time than a fourth of July to talk about. But it means to the American does the day about hot dogs and fireworks and I straight and I is green infuriated. But also at its core today about history and prop eight. It sure isn't for those newly minted American citizens those who recently took a all of the city of citizenship. Is front of mind you know they really fought for it they pass those tests waited in line paid those fees. And we caught up with them but what that actually means. So many immigrant communities have felt targeted by this administration both the rhetoric and the policy is. And they're those dreamers hundreds of thousands of young adults who were brought here to this country by their parents first afforded some protection under President Obama. But today still in limbo as this administration has worked to roll those protections back. And despite the trump administration's crack down take a look at these numbers more people became American citizens last year. That at any point in the last five years more than 750016%. Increase. 12014 last month we were there as more than a dozen immigrants hailing from fourteen different countries took that oath and we asked them and all of you. What it means to be American. Congratulations your doses. In the army for. Tonight three and then her about the last 25 years. This and I had my back pocket that they did something that I want to do since you Steve become an American citizen. What does that citizenship mean to you would what do you tell people. You were British citizen American citizens as the American students. In the key thing that it really offers me is that. And maybe a controversial point of view but I really feel that things here in Washington are broken and as -- look from the outside in. You know I want this country to be great and you learn things in the military. How to solve really tough problems how how to deal would big issues how to bring people together to to achieve a common mission. And when you look at what's going on. Up here in Washington. Of these people of these extreme ideologies. You know and there so we entrenched in their positions that they can't come to the center to solve these really tough problems now I have the ability to. It's factors that. Yes that is the responsibility you have that let you know you have to take that and and you can't get stale candidate here Republican there I'm gonna be a Democrat. You've got to go and got to look. Look at the people and you've got to do research and you gotta find people that are aligned with your personal values. And that. That to me years it's changed that happens. What does it mean to you to be an American citizen why become an American citizen not a British citizen. While Dana Kelly under the constitution means freedom. I mean constitution means you found outside the reached out to me at gold's value and I tip and Milan to put bush Cheney team. And I feel in the and also he US isn't means the depending at the right south law and I'd be novel about the US position and every process. What is American citizenship means to you will receive. Legal immigration into the United States was at me and meets opportunity means democracy means liberty it's not a things. And I think. Some are new citizen had had a few words of some of them debated the armed services some of them have created business. So it took it means a lot of them coming from all corners of the world's to this country opportunity democracy. It's a responsibility and you need to learn of action government need to learn about what your responsibilities as a citizen are. And to exercise them. Wolves. McCain can. And you Hussein. What I like to believe about America whether your families have been here for ten or 151000 years when it here first people's. Whether you just being naturalized today that you're always welcome here and that's an ad parable. Belief that democracy is alive and we need to keep it living up to us I'm. Being an American means to me that. He's grateful to live in this country end and he's great I'm that every day. And also always remembering her ancestors who came before us help give us this life and then always helping the person was behind do the next person in line because they're both. Things also. To be American and from what it means. It means something that's very very special. Means to be free. You get to do what ever it is you want. It's it's very very spent so I can really define it won't work but. I emigrated to this country thirty years ago so needless to say I wanted to be here of one. That is very very special to be an. I think it's important to remember. Imprisoned in American citizen. Are this people who died for us in service of their country. Standing here to World War II memorial. It's kind of humbling to remember that so many people sacrificed their lives for the rest of us in our countries and we keep continue to enjoy our freedoms. To be admitted in his grades one of the biggest things that experience in Malay. I don't know people. Whose daily unmitigated spending cuts. Them really blessings. And what does it mean to you to be. An American citizens to be an American citizen means being born in the greatest country on earth with the best opportunities on earth. I have to travel around with the military for twenty years I'm like north and that was it evolved is no place like home America's greatest. You know it's so moving every time you see this new citizens taking that oath which would powerful knowing how sought after. American citizenship isn't yet it's so different from what we think about we think about pride in America not the same thing. And there's a conversation taking place in the country right now difference between patriotism. And nationalism. What it means to be proud of where you're from first is distancing yourself from where other people are from. And the Gallup organization a major national pollster has just found in a newly released survey that. Fewer Americans than ever see they're extremely proud to be from the United States and so we wanted to know why. And we're joined now by the editor in chief of doubt Mohammad yet. Mohammad it was such an interesting poll that the idea of American patriotism is on the decline tell us what about found. Well we found a few things this issue really can be tackled looking beat Atlanta's first of wall. Just asking about whether Americans are out to be America something that we don't look past nineteen years a lot of attention has garnered to this old that we did last month because it was the second year that less than 50% of Americans actually said that they were extremely proud to be Americans. A few copy arts or explanations that we started asking this question. Just about after she bit attacks of nine allowed it so we really started at a very high point. We saw a little bit of a decline in 2004. Which actually coincided with global reporting on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and Iraq. But since then it's remain declining but really steady when we seen it really precipitous that is among Democrats us. Two years essentially since president trump has been elected into office the number of Democrats self identified Democrats who see that there are extremely proud to be Americans. Has essentially pat down now to 22%. I'm so there are those partisan differences currently it's interesting to note that during our president Obama's period we didn't see a very sharp decline among Republicans. As they've been more consistent to see that they are either extremely or very proud. He. Americans that patriotic to rightists is totally interest income back in just to say ordering him Ruth Ben he got into the conversation she's an MYU professor and expert. On nationalism Rick great to see you want to ask you about this idea patriotism of course. Has ebbed and flowed over the years and American history but this notion of nationalism. Seems to be on the rise right now the president calls himself a nationalist. Help us understand the difference between patriotism and nationalism. Well ideally patriotism is not Carson it's a lot of your entry. Regardless of your political party or see your ace Justin. Kind of emotional she linked nationalism. She changed he chooses but it tends sheer. Would be not as benign it tends to say that our industry is better than others that we desire to rule others are examples. Chuck America first. Isn't Nationalists Rudnick patriotic. Who. Rhetoric. Are there other things besides the president's rhetoric that you think have led to a rise in some of an nationalist movement a country. Well Rick cheery we're global eat it right is right singing and there's no coach. People year sure here's alliance. Intro big nationalist rhetoric I in the world to date science Sony our ears like prudent in Oregon girls aren't actually still. This isn't local Trenton and America under Charlie is heartened. And Mohammed and it can also jet and that I think that in addition said in addition to Canada does the democracy patriots and I think. Up part of what's happening globally and and a Gallup we do all through world all we almighty percent of the world's population -- dogs on her fifteen years and we've been tracking a lot of the issues you just mentioned in Europe and other parts of the world is this looks like to nationalism has been globalism or at least in the political rhetoric and in an environment where the world works you global order is has shifted is gone and is now. Really shifting into a nuke. Set of actors any new set of threats and opportunities. I'm people's attitudes in developed democracies whether they are in Western Europe or here in the United States have shifted if you will on things like globalism. On things like a globalization which was really celebrated if you will and nineties so I think. Aspect of this is of course patriotism and and what we see happening right. But it's also a sense both on the right and the left. That some of the economic realities. Are flying in the face of some of the political rhetoric or concepts. That people wholeheartedly. Embrace in earlier decades little and he got in our deed as well. Yeah aid and Ruth is picking up there were Mohamad left off in this idea on the fourth he Terkel in America as a melting pot. Of cultures. A yet we also have a very real desire by so many immigrant communities in this country to hold on of that heritage to hold on to those routes. How have we tended to thread that needle how do we reconcile patriotism pride in America with a also. You know clinging on to our heritage of those things incompatible. What is your historical research found. Well it's certainly shouldn't be. It there I'm Irish immigrants in the fourth of July and we are now we had a Great Britain featuring Darren Abrams of rats and still have their cultural heritage house speaker and her only to be Americans. And America and eat it freedoms nations around the world. But we also never had any president who is so clearly says I'm only the president of some Americans. That this is unprecedented. That we had a president to use or me increasingly authoritarian leaders and so Christ assignment to get our are all. They use it induced polarization going her and and when you how do you like this they China and Whitney those two things incompatible. Right Encino being an ethnic heritage is not what being American and find experienced disturbing. Mean and Monica also pulled on things that make. Americans proud is that right you're talking about times where pride has dips in the last twenty years but what did you find when rhythms and those responses from what. Dayton where Americans are showing their practice. Absolutely so we asked about eight aspects society government. Where Americans were most likely to say look following sort of meet them to be American was America's scientific achievements we're 91% of Americans said that those achievements made them out to be American. 89%. Said that the US military makes them proud to be American. 85% said American culture and the arts. I'm 75% economic achievements make them the American on the point you all just need US Ed diversity in race ethnicity and religion. Around 70% to 32% more specifically American said that battening them proud to be American just. Overall that 77%. In your poll are proud in some ways very or extremely proud that's a high number we have a lot of people you patriotism. Headed into this holiday league and here here the numbers from the Gallup poll. I you can find that on minor Gallup dot com be different than it she rightly as it is is notable that extreme number Mohamed Eunice editor in chief of Gallup think he's so much we have to leave it there within GAAP. A history professor at MI you thank you so much interest in conversation one that we know. Many people continue having this weekend have a great fourth you both well. A speaking of pride we hear it in music form this weekend the National Anthem America the beautiful likely. That to be among those songs played another popular somewhere else you know god bless the USA it's been a hit for 35 years a lot of truck routes. Absolutely and it's fun Lanny it's Kindle app on their feet and singing and have popular song by Lee Greenwood who is also trump supporter obviously country music star he's on the road touring for the fourth a week caught up with him. Out in Nashville yesterday took time to talk to us about his song about this difference between patriotism and nationalism. In his message to all of us and a fourth of July. Well light. I certainly wrote god bless the USA to be timeless first of all. If it I think it resonates with a blue collar rademan New York. Or are Los Angeles are in Kansas Texas I mean that that the people are all very much the same even though are mixed culture course you can't predict crisis. And when crisis comes people want to find something for security. It just turned out that god bless USA waste and more. Modern anthem then god bless America America the beautiful I mean all songs that I have in my American patriots seeking equal like who I listened to when I was a kid. And I think people just reached out for something that was more modern and spoke more clearly to the needs of unity. When you talk about nationalism it sounds like it's it's at it's a blend of all Americans together. Patriotism is a something you're willing to give your life for that are to be a patriot have to believe in the country have to believe that we're the greatest country on earth. And a course this is our home. And people always have to be proud of their home. Yeah. Hi back down here at Capitol Hill on this fourth of July week a hot debate hangs over all this conversation about American citizenship. That is what our values are a martyr immigration policy is. What should be done at the border we saw that conversation center stage at the first democratic presidential debate in Miami. I'm just heated rhetoric on both sides of the IL about how to solve this problem and how much money is needed. So Quinn oh and as we head into this holiday weekend you cover immigration for us the money for the border crisis is finally flowing right. Oh that's right the supplemental funding bill has passed and is it on its way to the agencies to be Phil lease this gap that we see. It's really just to keep the lights on it's not so much to mitigate this full crisis but. The Department of Health and Human Services are saying they were gonna have to start cutting back. And did start cutting back on some education and recreation services that there are providing the kids in their care. This supplemental funding will get. And allow them to K unit keep operating. And it while it does provide some measures for some funding for border security the bulk of it is really for care for people who are in government. Yeah things like hygiene. Housing supplies clothing for the kids there were some immigration lawyers in the next two we'll talk about that. And a second we can see some of that funny part is she really just a band aid on this crisis if you will to get us through the summer want to bring into the conversation Claudia floors she's director. I think international human rights clinic at the University of Chicago and a lawyer Claudia thanks for comment on what has give up these conditions we've been seen over the past. We can be images from inside this detention centers really appalling and. To many Americans the take a close look to get the sense that the administration is starting. To get a handle on that what's your take on how we go forward with the situation. Yes the conditions that we've been seeing your photos and descriptions are really concerning untouched you know one of the things that's important sets in note is that that the difficulties that immigrants have been. Easing in detention the US is not a new thing and it's not even new under the charmed administration. Other clinic along with it still used to report a year well about you'd use immigrant children in. Detention facilities under an administration so cousins and word protection has had difficulty. Actually detaining immigrants and children in particular on her a decade now. And these things are coming to lie and to the public and we definitely needs you it's really clean our own house the pro we start our ramping up our immigration detention efforts. And won't Orkut advocates like yourself due to both bring attention to this but also to push. Our policy makers to to improve things there she. Well you know I think advocates are doing what they can't you know hiking conditions on making sure that the public now. I'm exploring in litigation options are still possibilities for when Darren Jackson in detention for their ER damages claims. I'm really does what is needed as a reform and policy on were in violation of our a lot of our international human rights obligations on both violations. In violation Cassel under the convention on civil and political rights we have an obligation to eighteen individuals. I consistent with human dignity I'm which you know women drinking out of toilet and asked sanitary napkins not being provided and medical care medical care being Christ don't meet those conditions. And we also have obligations to treat children with went in their best interest and with Chris act which we've also been sailing out. I was so we really need to ensure that it from pointed to eighteen immigrants and again this policy that this administration has decided to ramp up. And hasn't even shown to be an active in fact and that Obama administration regularly had supervisory release programs for families and and especially when immigrants were provided with legal counsel they showed up to court and they complied with orders of removal. It does sound though like this has spent a policy problem stretching for many years want to bring in a member of the Obama administration Leon frescoes been on before deputy. Assistant attorney general for immigration that a great location in the Obama Justice Department Leon great to see you. So I'm Claudia was talking about some policy changes that are needed want to ask you about some proposals that some of the democratic candidates have been floating. What do you think about decriminalizing. These people that come across do they need to be treated differently and how about. Joaquin Castro whose idea of basically outsourcing all of these. Detention facilities to nonprofits in two aid agencies and take it out of the hands of Border Patrol that help. Well let's go one at a time on the decriminalization. Up people who cross the border. The proposal is designed so that menu cannot separate from it because you can't prosecute the adult then the idea is that you would be a vote. The separate friendly. But the truth of the matter is that actually he is and it is practicable and effective for the purpose it being more. And it's harming other things which means. First solid but hardly bigger than terrorists or drug dealer or something else or even from many of most things. You want a reason all of them and the reason would eat because you're prosecuting them free illegally crossing the border. And secondly and ice wants to separate a parent and the child ice could think of any crimes while they're in the United States. And but and an immigration detention nothing prevents them vermilion. The idea that you decriminalize border entry. Friendly separation eight bulb problem and beat. A create a problem were to really need an editorial this current and you obviously wouldn't prosecute people. I'm trying but they separate their friendly which is what has been per decade and only to change during this. Every act that happened certainly and on your watch is that it did tentative Obama administration basically said we have limited resources. I these people are otherwise harmless thing coming in children families we will go after the criminals and terrorists first. I quit on all arrests has been a huge flashpoint in the campaign we sought and the debate stage is just. Go to 30000 feet again headed into the holiday is the campaign season ramps up were some of these. The policy proposals that are on the table in congress where they stand a sort daka. Something the Supreme Court said they're gonna look at this fall where they are there legislative proposals in the powerful. Who yes who once again the Democrats are looking at this group of people childhood arrivals people who are brought to the country has kids in. May have been here for several several years after that so. The big cornerstone push for Democrats on the hill has been in a renewed attempt at getting those people a pathway to citizenship we saw. The new dream and promise act passed the house. That's not really some of the corridor and a. Republicans had every startup exact out of this idea that had a presence at a larger Kushner has been floating he's been teaming up with Lindsey Graham to overhaul the asylum process in this country. Right now asylum seekers can come in. Any way seek asylum claims sound go through that process he he's suggesting that perhaps we keep all asylum seekers. Out of the country while they pursue their processes that gonna gain any ground. Yeah the grim Kushner proposals are really put up primary focus on border security so again cracking down on the border more funding to things like barriers may be a wall. And and speeding up the asylum process we parties in the administration. Make moves to putting. Sound processing contemporary sound processing facilities on the border. And their proposals would increase. Those time lines for just Giroux valuing asylum claims. Advocates and a lawyers are concerned that. Increasing. The process for what is past should be you know meticulous and careful a valuation of someone's credible fear of returning to their home country. Might result in people getting removed expeditiously that otherwise could have soldier and it. A lot of concern there real quickly on the wall where do we stand on the presence border wall headed into campaign season. So the latest update we have from CBP on that is there's been really no new construction no completed sections of wall where there hasn't been wall before. A lot of what we've seen as far as construction has been renovating new projects creating much bigger sections of wall where we had smaller fences. Certainly does it he's still committed to that Leon grow quickly here there's been a lot of talk of increasing the number of immigration judges. We know that this border supplemental added thirty. Lindsey Graham is talking about 500 new immigration judges would that help is that part of the solution here. Well every part of the process the choke points the immigration is the joke but it doesn't matter you increase the immigration. You don't increased the appeals John's in the thirties. And frankly unique they get old salt to these people worry removal proceedings. Because you don't get them counsel then you waste months where are you provide them the opportunity to find around salt. And so we really got to take a holistic approach we've been trying to basically you hammer. On every day don't we can find herbal high gear the corps during my administration. What everybody needs there was that back and say we've got all this with a refugee program would work program but the lawyer program. Any expedited removal program but it real refugees can stay. And not refugees who apply for legal work programs that create. Think I'm Claudia on this fourth of July as well think about America's values and our heritage we think about this country -- beacon of hope. And freedom for the world how damaging do you think this latest episode. Is to that reputation. It gets very damaging the United States has always been a leader internationally and protecting the rights of children in protecting the rights of vulnerable women victims of human trafficking. We were one of the leaders. The refugee convention and what we're doing here domestically. Is really creating I think an image of hypocrisy. And we want to. Engage in all these programs and obviously manager and accretion and in a way that respects human rights and I just our sense of humanity and justice. Let's hope that the so conversational contains some progress can be made even in this election year. Claudia Flores at university Chicago thank you so much and we have fresco formerly of the Obama administration appreciate you two guys both have a great. Fourth of July and our thanks to you corn on. Now despite all that political debate part of what makes this holiday feel special. Is that communities and families can criticize it. And that spirit of bipartisanship on the fourth of July so that use more of in this town one American success story in New Jersey native son of immigrants David Copperfield. Recently stopped by ABC news live to share his secret solution. To the fractured partisanship of this country. Magic in as proof of this he went to the Smithsonian to replace a long missing star on the original star spangled banner. Emitter reappear. David Copperfield Letterman and so much that the should be your making any missing star. On the original star spangled banner read here if I do it for works it's going to be very. How did you come up with the idea. We were talking about a whole bunch of things the Smithsonian people and they've got an amazing amount of inspiration for somebody like me ideas and you know holds incredible artifacts and and I level it's tough assignment for inspiration and having missing stars like our units. The great opportunity for me to do and I'd. And get star spangled banner is not your first PCs Americana that you included him when he works statue of liberty of Emerson disappeared and the whole point to that was as a lesson freedom. The whole idea that we take our premium for rent this hotel than a shipment to of course make it reappear. It was important as a kind of a lesson in freedom and this is sort of interesting because. The fifteen stars the startling event represented fifteen states. And all coming together as one I can make a missing start we have here. That could show symbolically that what it's like how important for us to come together as one theaters. Home. Ideas and thoughts here there's a message behind this work for you. You hope to steal this time very divided time our country I guess sort of makes you question can you make our bipartisanship. Come back. Allow me. It'll but certainly you know without question we are. A nation of all kinds of people wonder together ignited. You think about your American routes often you grew you're kidding group in New Jersey you've made huge name for yourself so much success. How much of that do you go to being an American. I think being an American is really really. An honor for me and as I'm so blessed the fact the opportunities and freedoms we have here. Are like anywhere else obviously and as a sign the immigrants. I really really value. What we have is as people here to finally there have got to ask you something tells lot of people's minds in this town king you make the Republican president group who. What the democratic speaker of the house. C a later proof is the magic. An enemy at all. Get loans. I think together David Copperfield thanks you for joining us here at the special addition of the briefing room retired Mary Alice for the sake get in some barbecue this week every so my extremely active or else that's on. And I'm ready working. And a new verging on our Sunday show a great show for you this weekend Martha Raddatz is hosting having a lot of these conversations again Anson and that's. This week on your local ABC stations Sunday morning be sure to check out our we're back here 3:30 PM eastern time on Monday hope to see that until then. Muriel spark some Devin Dwyer have a great weekend.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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