Citizenship as blood right rather than birthright
- May 12, 2009
- Anthropology graduate student Erin Moran studies Ireland's efforts to curtail immigration; findings could play role in U.S. immigration policy
When a booming Irish economy led to an equally booming influx of immigrants during
the 1990s, concern about what the increasing population could do to the country's
public healthcare system was widespread. The public's response came in the form of
a constitutional amendment in 2004 which tightened laws around citizenship, effectively
limiting access to healthcare. Under the new law, citizenship status became a "blood
right" based on parental status rather than a right automatically granted to those
born in Ireland.
With a newly awarded $12,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, anthropology graduate student Erin Moran is studying the events that brought about the amendment and, through observations and interviews with asylum-seeking women and their families, NGO workers and government employees, she is seeking to learn how the status of citizenship impacts the life-possibilities, personal aspirations, and overall sense of belonging of immigrant families.
"Ireland's response was quite an extreme measure when you consider that they are the only European nation to fully abolish birthright citizenship - Germany operates a modified version, for example - and just one among a few other nations in the world," she writes from Dublin where she is currently conducting her research. It seems even more extreme, she adds, when taking into account that the claims of immigrants and refugees overburdening the healthcare system appear to be unfounded.
"Ireland's abolition of birthright citizenship may mark a major rethinking of traditional notions of liberal democratic citizenship within the context of globalization. The consequences of such a legal change in Ireland will be of interest to nations worldwide, including the U.S., who may be reconsidering ways and modes of belonging."
Her study began in 2008 and will run through September 2009.