Recent publications on citizenship laws and policies


"A privilege, not a right": Contemporary debates on citizenship deprivation in Britain and France


By Bobbie Mills, Centre on Migration, Policy and Society, University of Oxford, January 2016

Citizenship withdrawal and expulsion of those posing a threat to national security has been a standard feature of liberal democracies throughout their historical development. The current revival of citizenship deprivation powers in numerous Western governments in the spirit of the so-called War on Terror is simply another chapter in that history. This paper, based on a dissertation entitled "Defining and Depriving Citizenship: Contemporary Practices of Citizenship Withdrawal in Britain and France" examines media and parliamentary debates in Britain and France to explore why and in what ways citizenship stripping has been retooled in this current juncture. It specifically asks why it is that Britain appears to have forged ahead in resurrecting these powers, with several new pieces of legislation and significantly increased number of deprivations, whilst all other countries, including France, have tended to tread more cautiously. The paper argues that while France proposed to revive deprivation as part of its naturalisation regime, Britain framed it as a complement to its deportation regime. The differing governing logics of these two immigration control regimes had divergent implications for citizenship deprivation and its ultimate legitimization.

Read full text here.


Can a Citizen be Sovereign?


By Patrick Weil, Humanity Journal, January 2016

The concept of the sovereignty of the individual citizen reconnects with the largely forgotten origins of a revolutionary tradition exemplified in the thoughts and opinions of James Wilson and recognized by Hannah Arendt. In two important decisions—Chisholm (1793) and Dred Scott (1857)—the Supreme Court affirmed the sovereignty of the citizen. But both were reversed by two constitutional amendments—the 11th and the 14th. However, following Afroyim, the ‘sovereign citizen’ became the law of the land. This article is first concerned with understanding how this came to be. To do so, it tells the story of how some Supreme Court justices—originally in the minority on the Court—found a way to secure Americans their citizenship rights. Then it discusses how the definition of the citizen as sovereign challenges both the classical definitions of citizenship and of sovereignty, thereby allowing for a renewal in the standing of democratic institutions and democratic thought itself.

Read full text here.


The Political Effects of Immigrant Naturalization

By Alex Street, International Migration Review, December 2015

Immigration is transforming the societies of Europe and North America. Yet the political implications of these changes remain unclear. In particular, we lack credible evidence on whether, and how, becoming a citizen of the country of residence prompts immigrants to engage with the political system. This paper used panel data from Germany to test theories of citizenship and immigrant politics. I found that naturalization can promote political integration, but that this is more likely if new citizens have the chance to pick up habits of political engagement during the formative years of early adulthood. Access the article here.


COMMENTARY: Recent trends in EU nationals born inside and outside the EU


By The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, July 2015

The number of people working in the UK who were citizens of EU-14 countries (that is, countries that joined the EU before 2004, such as Germany and Spain), was no longer smaller than the number of those born in EU-14 countries, as it had been in previous years. Among the UK’s population as a whole, the number of foreign citizens tends to be smaller than the number of people born abroad, mainly because after staying for some years many foreign nationals ‘naturalise’ and become British citizens. The ONS has produced detailed statistics examining this issue based on 2011 census data.

The Migration Observatory received a number of requests to explain why this was not the case for people from EU-14 countries (that is, why the number of EU-14 citizens working in the UK was not smaller than the number of EU-14 born) - and specifically, whether EU citizens who were born outside of the EU were driving the trend. This commentary looks at recent trends in EU migration and the countries of birth of EU migrants living here.

Read the full commentary here.


The Cultural Defense of Nations. A Liberal Theory of Majority Rights


By Liav Orgad, Oxford University Press, 2015

The changing patterns of contemporary immigration have initiated a new form of majority nationalism. In recent years, liberal democracies have introduced immigration and citizenship policies that are designed to defend the majority culture. This trend is fed by fears of immigration-some justified, some paranoid-which explain the rise of extreme right-wing parties in the West. Liberal theory and human rights law seem to be out of sync with these developments. While they recognize the rights of minority groups to maintain their cultural identity, it is typically assumed that majority groups have neither a need for similar rights nor a moral basis for defending them. The majority culture, so the argument goes, "can take care of itself." This singular book shifts the focus from the prevailing discussion of minority rights and, for the first time, directly addresses the cultural rights of majorities. The findings reveal a troubling trend in liberal democracies, which, ironically, in order to protect liberal values, violate the very same values. The book criticizes this state of affairs and presents a liberal theory of cultural defense that distinguishes between justifiable and unjustifiable attempts by majorities to protect their cultural essentials. It formulates liberal standards by which liberal states can welcome immigrants without fundamentally changing their cultural heritage, forsaking their liberal traditions, or slipping into extreme nationalism.