Immigration as a Democratic Challenge: Citizenship and Inclusion in Germany and the United States

Immigration as a Democratic Challenge: Citizenship and Inclusion in Germany and the United States

Immigration as a Democratic Challenge: Citizenship and Inclusion in Germany and the United States

Immigration as a Democratic Challenge: Citizenship and Inclusion in Germany and the United States

Synopsis

Immigration raises a number of important moral issues regarding access to the rights and privileges of citizenship. At present, immigrants to most Western democracies must satisfy a range of conditions before achieving citizenship. This book argues that this is unjust and undemocratic, and that there should be a time threshold after which immigrants should either be granted full citizenship rights, or should be awarded nationality automatically, without any conditions. The author contrasts her position with the constitutional practice of two countries with rich immigration traditions: Germany and the United States.

Excerpt

Postwar international labour migration to affluent and industrialized Western countries has generated some social realities that need to be questioned if the commitment of these societies to liberal democracy is to remain alive. Such a commitment currently ties membership in the polity to the enjoyment of equal political freedom. However, both in Western Europe and North America, increasing numbers of non-national residents, who have by now consolidated their residence, remain excluded from the sphere of civic equality, a sphere which has been reserved thus far for national citizens. This realm of civic equality currently sets the external boundaries to liberal democratic membership. Inclusion in the realm of civic equality refers to the sharing of a space in which political equality is preserved by the equal recognition of freedoms and rights to political participation, as well as of those other rights (e.g. civil and social) and duties recognized as relevant for that purpose. Clearly the causes, but also the degrees and kinds of exclusion of non-national residents differ largely from case to case. Generally, non-citizens are not totally excluded from the sphere of civic equality, as defined here. They enjoy many of the rights that nationals do. in spite of this, full equality is everywhere reserved for national citizens only. Although some voices have started celebrating the consolidation of a new post-national order, nowhere has nationality completely lost its importance as a source of claims of rights.

The exclusion of non-national residents from the sphere of civic equality in spite of their permanent coexistence with nationals provokes concerns about the legitimacy of the public authority and the laws that shape their lives in an increasingly pervasive manner. It is these concerns that I will mainly address. That such an exclusion has not been given great attention in modern studies on political justice may have to do with the fact that many of these studies start out from the image of closed societies, an image which appears to be less and less adequate to confront realities of mobile societies and which only more recent work addressing the moral and political issues raised by immigration in modern democracies has . . .

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