Second-class citizen

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, aborigines in Australia prior to 1967, apartheid in South Africa, women in Saudi Arabia under Saudi law, Dalits in India and Nepal, 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. In the present day, convicted felons and dropouts are believed to be considered second-class citizens.

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, and is usually accepted by the local population. 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.


Proposals for a U.S. guest worker programwhich would provide legal status to and admit foreign workers to the U.S., but provide no path to citizenship for themhas been criticized on the ground that such a policy would creating second-class non-citizens.[1][2][3]

Latvian non-citizens constitute a group similar to second-class citizens.[4] 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. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance has described their status as making "people concerned feel like “second-class citizens” ".[5] Estonian non-citizens are in a similar position.

New Zealanders receive automatically a "Special Category Visa" upon entering Australia, which presents no pathway to Australian citizenship. New Zealanders are denied access to Centrelink, to name just one of the services. This means that if, for example, a New Zealand person came to Australia to live with his or her Australian spouse, and that spouse committed domestic violence upon them, the New Zealander could not then turn to Centrelink to provide them with funds to leave the abusive spouse.

Burakumin (部落民) is a designation of Japanese Second-class status meaning the people who are from the place called "buraku." Buraku basically means a village or small district. Since a long time ago, people started to discriminate people from "buraku" even though they belonged to the same race, and there were no differences between ordinal Japanese people and people who are called burakumin. It is not clarified when and why this has been started, but it is said that it was most prospered in Edo period.[6] They are often called as "eta" (穢多) or "hinin" (非人) meaning polluted or not a human. Even though in Meiji 4 (1871), these discrimination was officially ended by kaihourei (解放令), many people resisted it and continued treating them as burakumin. Today, fewer people are biased about burakumin, however, the term burakumin is still recognized as a discriminating word while there are certain amount of recent young generations who do not even know the term and idea of burakumin. Also, in some cases, people still happen to be discriminated especially when they get a job or get married.[7] These cases often reported as problems.

Native Filipinos are considered as second-class citizens since the Spanish Regime, being called as 'indios'. Today foreigners are still considered as superior to the natives, particularly the American People who were the colonizers in the first half of the 20th century. Until today, the country is still being exploited by the foreigners especially the indigenous people and natural resources. The status-quo is maintained by the lack of public services particularly the access to education at all levels.

Currently, this is more than evident in Croatia, in which Serbs, being the ethnic minority, are often subject to harsh treatment from their Croatian counterparts.

See also


  1. "That's Hospitality | New Republic". The New Republic. April 17, 2006.
  2. Conor Friedersdorf, Reform Immigration, but Don't Create Second-Class Non-Citizens, The Atlantic (January 17, 2013).
  3. Anna Stilz, Guestworkers and second-class citizenship, Policy and Society, Vol. 29, Issue 4 (November 2010), pp. 295–307.
  4. "'Walk like a Latvian'". New Europe. 2013-06-01. Retrieved 2013-10-03.
  5. Third report on Latvia. CRI(2008)2 Executive summary
  6. Roth, Louis Frédéric ; translated by Käthe (2005). Japan encyclopedia. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap. pp. 93–94. ISBN 9780674017535.
  7. Saito (齋藤), Naoko(直子). "部落出身者と結婚差別". External link in |website= (help);
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