12 March 2018

Monetizing Citizenship

'Citizenship for Sale: What's the Objection?' (Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 18/05) by  Helen Irving comments
 In recent years, a number of countries around the world have begun to offer their citizenship for sale (at a considerable price) to individual purchasers. Our intuitions tell us that there is something wrong with such schemes. Citizenship, it seems, should never be for sale. But, this objection is problematic. It rests upon a priori theories about the nature of citizenship that are questionable and unstable, and that do not persuasively distinguish citizenship acquired by purchase from citizenship acquired in any other manner. This paper considers several common objections to the ‘monetization’ of citizenship: the political participation objection; the ‘genuine connection’ objection; and the objection from allegiance. It argues, among other things, that these objections, if they are sound, should apply equally to the holding of more than one citizenship, but observes that a return to the historical rejection of dual nationality would have consequences more regrettable than those likely to result from schemes for purchasing citizenship, at least under the conditions in which citizenship is actually sold. It concludes that selling citizenship would be objectionable if this were the only or the default manner of acquiring it, but that these scenarios remain unlikely. Finally, rather than devaluing citizenship, its purchase indicates just how valuable it is.
'The Marketization of Citizenship in an Age of Restrictionism' by Ayelet Shachar in (2018) 32 Ethics & International Affairs 3-13 comments 
In today’s age of restrictionism, a growing number of countries are closing their gates of admission to most categories of would-be immigrants with one important exception. Governments increasingly seek to lure and attract “high value” migrants, especially those with access to large sums of capital. These individuals are offered golden visa programs that lead to fast-tracked naturalization in exchange for a hefty investment, in some cases without inhabiting or even setting foot in the passport-issuing country to which they now officially belong. In the U.S. context, the contrast between the “Dreamers” and “Parachuters” helps to draw out this distinction between civic ties and credit lines as competing bases for membership acquisition. Drawing attention to these seldom-discussed citizenship-for-sale practices, this essay highlights their global surge and critically evaluates the legal, normative, and distributional quandaries they raise. I further argue that purchased membership goods cannot replicate or substitute the meaningful links to a political community that make citizenship valuable and worth upholding in the first place.