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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Access to Citizenship

Among those who study and write intelligently about citizenship (current laws and history) the master is, in my view, Patrick Weil. His books, How to be French and What is a Frenchman are delightful and, after I finished them, I was sufficiently impressed that I went down to the Prefecture and asked for the forms and information on the procedure to become a naturalized French citizen. Both are sitting on the desk in my study but that is another story (and another post).

So let it suffice to say that when this gentleman talks or writes, I pay close attention. In addition to his many fine books, he also contributes articles to many major publications in both French and English and gives eloquent and informative talks. I came across one the other day on the Web that I thought I would share with you. This talk is a synopsis of a chapter he contributed to T. Alexander Aleinikoff and Douglas Klusmeyer's book Citizenship Today: Global Perspectives and Practices called "Access to Citizenship: a Comparison of Twenty-five Nationality Laws."

In his introduction, Weil clearly and succinctly explains why citizenship laws are a moving target - a country cannot make its laws in a vacuum since other states make their own laws that may complement or conflict with those passed elsewhere. But the real gold comes a few paragraphs down where Weil puts the citizen laws of 25 countries side by side so you can make a quick comparison. The essentials are all here: Jus soli versus jus sanguinis, naturalization, spousal naturalization, and second generation immigrants.

This article is well worth a read and a bookmark for future reference. I hope you find this as useful as I did and, if you are someone interested in (or directly impacted by) this topic, I highly recommend Patrick Weil's books. All of them. :-)

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