Citizenship for children: By soil, by blood, or by paternalism?

Research paper by Luara Ferracioli

Indexed on: 30 Oct '17Published on: 03 Oct '17Published in: Philosophical Studies


Do states have a right to exclude prospective immigrants as they see fit? According to statists the answer is a qualified yes. For these authors, self-determining political communities have a prima facie right to exclude, which can be overridden by the claims of vulnerable groups such as refugees and children born in the state’s territory. However, there is a concern in the literature that statists have not yet developed a theory that can protect children born in the territory from being excluded from the political community. For if the self-determining political community has the right to decide who should form the self in the first place, then that right should count against both newcomers by immigration and newcomers by birth. Or so the concern goes. In this essay, I defend statism against this line of criticism and provide a liberal justification for the inclusion of children born within the state’s borders. My account leads to some surprising implication for citizenship law, as well as immigration arrangements in the area of asylum and unauthorized immigration.