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Revoking Citizenship

Revoking Citizenship: Expatriation in America from the Colonial Era to the War on Terror

Ben Herzog
With a foreword by Ediberto Román
Copyright Date: 2015
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Revoking Citizenship
    Book Description:

    Expatriation, or the stripping away citizenship and all the rights that come with it, is usually associated with despotic and totalitarian regimes. The imagery of mass expulsion of once integral members of the community is associated with civil wars, ethnic cleansing, the Holocaust, or other oppressive historical events. Yet these practices are not just a product of undemocratic events or extreme situations, but are standard clauses within the legal systems of most democratic states, including the United States. Witness, for example, Yaser Esam Hamdi, captured in Afghanistan in November 2001, sent to Guantánamo, transferred to a naval brig in South Carolina when it was revealed that he was a U.S. citizen, and held there without trial until 2004, when the Justice Department released Hamdi to Saudi Arabia without charge on the condition that he renounce his U.S. citizenship.

    Hamdi's story may be the best known expatriation story in recent memory, but inRevoking Citizenship, Ben Herzog reveals America's long history of making both naturalized immigrants and native-born citizens un-American after their citizenship was stripped away. Tracing this history from the early republic through the Cold War, Herzog locates the sociological, political, legal, and historic meanings of revoking citizenship. Why, when, and with what justification do states take away citizenship from their subjects? Should loyalty be judged according to birthplace or actions? Using the history and policies of revoking citizenship as a lens,Revoking Citizenshipexamines, describes, and analyzes the complex relationships between citizenship, immigration, and national identity.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-7096-2
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)

    Citizenship, considered the most basic of all rights, is also known as the right to have rights. Despite what appears to be its central and foundational nature, the concept is under fire. Such a state of affairs seems odd, as one would naturally think that a concept so fundamental and so closely associated with democratic order would not be the subject of debate. Indeed, it is a term that dates back to the Greco-Roman era, when giants like Aristotle extolled its virtues as well as its importance to democratic forms of government. It is a concept with countless examples of...

    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    In late November 2001, after the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan, hundreds of surrendering Taliban fighters were sent to the Qala-e-Jangi prison complex near Mazari Sharif. Among the surrendering Taliban forces were Afghan Arabs who instigated a prison riot by detonating grenades they had concealed in their clothing, attacking Northern Alliance guards, and seizing weapons. The prison uprising was brought to an end after a three-day battle that included heavy air support from U.S. AC-130 gunships and Black Hawk helicopters. One American soldier was killed and nine were injured along with about fifty Northern Alliance soldiers. Between 200 and 400...

  7. 1 Revoking Citizenship
    (pp. 9-26)

    Why is citizenship fundamental for possessing rights? What happens when citizenship is taken away? What are the differences and similarities between the different conceptions of modern citizenship? In this chapter I will try to answer these questions by explaining the theoretical basis of the study of citizenship and its revocation. I define the concept of citizenship through exploration of the coherence debate within the study of citizenship. Then, I explain the notion of the national world system, which I argue is the reason (and justification) for the revocation of citizenship. The state measure of taking away citizenship has both practical...

  8. 2 National Beginnings—American versus British Citizenship
    (pp. 27-36)

    In the past, political membership was seen as a biological condition. Being born into a particular community determined a person’s natural subjectship.¹ Therefore, persons who did acquire allegiance to a new ruler were considered to be “naturalized,” a term that is still used today although its underlying meaning is usually rejected.² Thus, it is common to understand persons in pre-democratic political arrangements as subjects rather than free citizens. This in turn meant that the world was divided into groups of people whose allegiance was assigned by birth, regardless of their color, parentage, or race; consequently, their political identity was “not...

  9. 3 Legislative Initiatives
    (pp. 37-55)

    Congress deliberated on the issue of forced expatriation twice before the American Civil War. The first time was during the debates on the original Thirteenth Amendment (1810); the second was in reaction to the unacceptable betrayal on the part of the Confederacy (from the standpoint of the Union). Both proposals were passed by Congress but were never enacted into law. However, from the end of the nineteenth century until the mid-twentieth century, the legislative branch initiated and legislated many expatriation laws. The hegemonic perception of Congress was that citizenship can and should be taken away if the American citizen acquires...

  10. 4 International Relations
    (pp. 56-69)

    The policy of expatriation was influenced and sometimes dictated by the international relations between the United States and both its allies and its enemies. This chapter follows those considerations by looking at the treaties the United States signed regarding expatriation. From the American Civil War until the Second World War, the United States signed numerous bilateral treaties to ensure the mutual recognition of naturalization. During the First World War, the Allied states that permitted military service in another country without its being considered as transferring allegiance made agreements with one another. In the interwar years, the issue of naturalization resurfaced...

  11. 5 Consular Dilemmas
    (pp. 70-77)

    Since independence, American diplomatic and consular officers around the world were constantly deliberating about practical issues relating to the transfer of allegiance. From the point of view of official representatives of the United States abroad, it was essential to determine with absolute certainty the final allegiance of each and every American outside the United States, and to proffer uniformity of treatment for them all. Additionally, the officers had to make sure that no one who had effectually expatriated him-or herself from the United States would receive the protection conferred upon American citizens. At the same time, it was crucial that...

  12. 6 Supreme Court Rulings
    (pp. 78-89)

    Several decisions made by the Supreme Court have shifted the benchmark for stripping away citizenship. In the past, the policy of expatriation was introduced mainly as a punishment for “un-American activities.” Since 1960, the focus has shifted to the citizen’s own desire to be expatriated. That is, citizenship is revoked only after the state has shown that the citizen intended to relinquish this status of his or her own volition. During the recent and continuing “War on Terror” politicians have been once again calling to change the interpretation of expatriation policy in the Constitution—so far, without success. In a...

  13. 7 The Board of Appellate Review
    (pp. 90-109)

    Between the years 1980 and 1996, the Board of Appellate Review reviewed 669 contested cases of expatriation. This number includes all appeals made regarding expatriation (594), motions for reconsideration for those appeals (52), and several cases regarding the renewal of passports and immigration (23). Here, I will present statistics on such matters as the number of cases each year, the grounds for the revocation of citizenship, and the outcome of the appeal. The limitation of such a report is that it misses out on the complexities and uniqueness of each deliberation. Each one of the persons who lost his or...

  14. 8 The War on Terror
    (pp. 110-121)

    While several years passed until Congress implemented the Court’s perspective on expatriation, it took even longer for the administration to recognize and implement the changing interpretation of expatriation policies that the Supreme Court and Congress had expressed. When Congress repealed most of the grounds for expatriation, and more importantly, followed the Court and established that citizenship cannot be taken away without the consent of the citizen, it changed more than a bureaucratic lacuna. Henry Ansgar Kelly, who studied State Department leaflets, came to the conclusion that the recognition of dual citizenship was formally introduced to consular offices around the world...

  15. 9 Dual Citizenship and the Revocation of Citizenship
    (pp. 122-136)

    Citizenship in the United States emerged in the eighteenth century in response to British treatment of national allegiance as singular and perpetual. While the United States advocated for transferable loyalty, it, too, was suspicious of divided national loyalty. Thus, the United States enacted grounds for expatriation in order to regulate the exclusive nature of nationality. Transnational immigration, changes in national and international norms, and new interpretations of dual citizenship domestically gradually led the United States to adopt a lenient and pragmatic policy regarding dual citizenship. However, the War on Terror brought back some of the exclusive notions of citizenship (even...

  16. Conclusion
    (pp. 137-140)

    Over the years, several reservations were made to the currently accepted interpretation of the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment especially with respect to the ongoing debates in the United States regarding illegal immigration. InUnited States v. Wong Kim Ark(1898), the United States Supreme Court held that, according to the Fourteenth Amendment, mere birth on U.S. soil automatically confers American citizenship. This interpretation has been the commonly held view until today. But the War on Terror has added security reservations to the concerns about illegal immigration. That is, granting citizenship to any child born within the territory of...

  17. NOTES
    (pp. 141-160)
    (pp. 161-176)
  19. INDEX
    (pp. 177-186)
    (pp. 187-187)