Donald Trump’s plan to end birthright citizenship by executive order was immediately denounced by legal scholars as an illegal intrusion on the Constitution’s 14th Amendment. But the United States knows something about ending birthright citizenship because it played an active role in helping another country bring it to a close — the Dominican Republic.
That role, which was unfolding before Trump became president, has long been the subject of criticism — from the Organization of American States, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and former Peace Corps volunteers who served in Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. Trump’s criticism of birthright citizenship and call for a wall on the US–Mexico border have renewed concerns that the US is inflaming the Dominican Republic’s already hostile xenophobic attitudes toward its Haitian minority.
“US human rights organizations were very vocal against the court ruling in 2013, and were very vocal in documenting some of the problems, particularly as it came into force in 2015,” Michele Wucker, author of Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola, said.
How the rest of the world deals with aliens at the ballot box
By SARAH NOORBAKHSH
Acknowledging the rights of immigrant groups, “recognizing special ties among particular groups of countries” and reciprocation are often part and parcel of granting suffrage, says Michele Wucker, executive director of the World Policy Institute. The EU, the Commonwealth, Brazil, Portugal and Spain are cases in point. However, the decision in South Korea had the effect of enfranchising mostly Taiwanese immigrants rather than being a “quid pro quo” reform benefiting Japan, and the country has thus far only indicated that it hopes for a similar move here in Japan. Also worth noting is that whereas 6,000 noncitizens benefited from the law change in South Korea, there are over 900,000 permanent foreign residents in Japan, including over 400,000 “special permanent residents” — mostly Koreans and Taiwanese who lived in Japan before and during the war, as well as their descendants.
So what about the argument that, rather than give voting rights to permanent residents, they should be encouraged to naturalize instead? This attitude is prevalent in North America, where noncitizen voting rights have been rolled back. In contrast, Chile introduced alien suffrage to in part to compensate for its slow, inefficient nationalization system.
“If people feel that they are part of a community with their neighbors, then they are more likely to embrace national values and even apply for citizenship as well,” suggests Wucker. Indeed, movements in Toronto as well as Rome have used this argument in pressing for the involvement of immigrant groups in local politics, though demonstrating objectively that granting foreigners the vote leads to an increased demand for naturalization has proved a challenge.
part of a collection from the December “The Right to Move?” conference in Tokyo.
January 26, 2010
Facing demographic and economic challenges, countries around the world are reconsidering the policies that govern migrant rights—the basis on which people are allowed to enter a country, the access that non-citizens have to services and rights, and the ability of non-citizens to naturalize. Decisions about who gets the right to move have significant consequences for the citizens, societies, and economies of host and sending countries alike.
The central question for many countries is: Who is admitted and how? In countries where ethnicity or family ties are priority criteria, the ethics of deciding who enters are closely tied to national conceptions of self-interest and identity. Sometimes these conceptions conflict, as Germany found when reconciling its long-standing policy of admitting people based on blood ties with its national desire to provide hospice to refugees. Admissions decisions also have consequences for sending countries which in turn ripple back to host countries when borders are weak and economic pull is strong.
Immigration rights advocates often make a moral argument for liberalizing immigration policy. No matter how good the moral case is, however, under the fraught politics of immigration the only arguments that will succeed are those that make a strong case for the self-interest of the host society. Yet the moral arguments are not necessarily opposed to self-interest; in fact, they often coincide. Continue reading “Jan 26: Linking Ethics and Self-Interest in Human Mobility”
The American Council on Germany, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the World Policy Institute and Demos present
“U.S. and European Perspectives on Immigration: A Problem or an Opportunity?”
a discussion and luncheon featuring
Delancey Gustin, Immigration and Integration Program, The German Marshall Fund of the United States
Michele Wucker, Executive Director, World Policy Institute
This event comes on the heels of the release of Transatlantic Trends: Immigration, which compares transatlantic as well as cross-country opinion on immigration and integration issues. Some of the topics included in this year’s survey are: public perception of immigrants’ labor market impacts and effects on wages, the effect of the economic crisis on attitudes toward immigration, and preferences for temporary vs. permanent labor migration programs. The survey also gauges opinion on a legalization program for illegal immigrants and asks respondents to rate their governments’ current job of immigration management.
Wednesday, January 27
12:15 – 2 PM
220 Fifth Avenue (between 26th and 27th streets)
Fifth Floor conference room
New York, New York
RSVP: This lunch and event are free and open to the public, but advance registration is required to reserve a seat and help us minimize waste when ordering. RSVP by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 212.481.5005 option 2.
As many of you know, I was back and forth to Washington, DC many times over the past year to take part in an unusual gathering of scholars and thinkers on immigration policy. The Brookings-Duke Immigration Policy Roundtable organizers, Noah Pickus, Peter Skerry and Bill Galston convened a group as diverse as possible without members being likely to strangle each other by being in the same room –but they weren’t far off! The idea was to see what this disparate bunch could agree on (or at least agree to disagree on), in hopes that it might provide some guidance to the Obama administration as it tackles long-overdue immigration reform. We made it through somehow with a report that would have been different had I (or any of us) written it ourselves. Nevertheless, it gives a pretty good sense of some of the tradeoffs that might be politically feasible and result in a policy that, while not perfect, would significantly improve upon the mess that we have now.
That report, available in PDF format here, was released October 6. Links to the executive summary, the Spanish version, and the Brookings launch event transcript are available here. I’ll be part of a panel discussing it further at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC on October 23.
Here’s more information about the report:
Breaking the Immigration Stalemate
The Obama administration has committed itself to immigration reform. Yet despite all the shortcomings of current policy — threats to the rule of law, exploitation of vulnerable newcomers, real and perceived competition with Americans for jobs and public resources — reasonable compromise on immigration will be exceedingly difficult. The divide between elite and public opinion on this issue remains deep and wide. It is a critical factor in the lack of trust that pervades today’s political culture.
This distrust was readily apparent in November 2008 when the Immigration Policy Roundtable first convened its twenty participants. The Roundtable is a joint undertaking of the Brookings Institution and the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University. The group’s distinctive feature is that its members came to the table with divergent, often conflicting perspectives on immigration. In fact, the range of political and ideological views represented at the Roundtable is unprecedented in recent immigration policymaking. Continue reading ““Breaking the Immigration Stalemate” report released”
It’s interesting to see that after Medicare tightened its proof-of-citizenship rules in 2005, about half of the states surveyed by the Government Accountability Office reported that people had fallen off of their Medicare rolls. The vast majority of those who lost health care were citizens, who paid a huge price for an effort that netted nine –count ’em, NINE– unauthorized immigrants. Here’s yet another case where efforts targeting illegal immigrants hurt many citizens, doing more harm than good.
I’ve written a chapter in the new book, GETTING IMMIGRATION RIGHT: WHAT EVERY AMERICAN NEEDS TO KNOW, edited by David Coates and Peter Siavalis and published by Potomac Press. My chapter deals with changing conceptions of citizenship, based on some of the work I did during my 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship. It’s about the ways in which nations around the globe are changing laws and customs governing who is allowed to become a citizen and how the naturalization process works, even as they debate the shifting norms about the rights and responsibilities that citizenship entails.
Please pick up a copy of the book at your favorite bookstore or online!
The book is based on a conference that David and Peter organized in Fall 2007 at Wake Forest University. Here’s the video of my session with Mark Miller (I start speaking at around 28:00)