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International Journal of Law and Management

THE VALUE OF YOUR ANCESTORS: GAINING “BACK-DOOR” ACCESS TO THE EUROPEAN UNION THROUGH BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP

MICHAEL D. MORITZ
Duke University School of Law, J.D./LL.M. in International and Comparative Law expected 2016; Duke University, B.A. 2013.
Abstract :

In 1994, John O’Flannery, an American living in California, learned that he was eligible for Irish citizenship because his grandmother had been born in Ireland.1 He proceeded to acquire Irish citizenship, and then his wife and children followed suit.2 In 2006, John’s daughter, Carol, explained that an Irish passport allowed her to work legally in Italy and Austria.3 Meanwhile, one of her sisters relied on her Irish citizenship to buy property in Italy, and John and his wife considered doing the same to retire there.4 No one in the family displayed any intent to return to, reside in, or buy property in Ireland. The case of the O’Flannery family illustrates a novel twenty-first century development in the European Union (EU): individuals are acquiring citizenship from their ancestral homelands and using their new nationalities not to obtain the privileges and shoulder the burdens of that country, but instead to secure the economic benefits of EU citizenship. As a result, thousands of non-Europeans are able to gain access to European nations with which they have no connection through a “back door”— because of the EU’s freedom of movement across its member states, gaining citizenship to one member state makes access available to all. Europe experienced drastic changes in the twentieth century, and with them came three key developments that have led to the new citizenship phenomenon addressed in this Note. Two of the developments occurred at the transnational level. The first is the recent acceptance of dual citizenship. Throughout history, dual citizenship was unlawful, and its conception was generally frowned upon. But by the new millennium, the concept had begun to garner acceptance, especially after the European Court of Justice’s decision in Micheletti v. Cantabria, 5 which permitted an individual to retain two nationalities. The second is the development of a transnational Europe, most notably, the EU’s recent eastern expansion to include nations from behind the former Iron Curtain. The transnational character of the continent has been furthered by the guaranteed freedom of movement between the EU’s now twenty-eight member states. The third development has occurred on the domestic level: nations have adopted national citizenship laws based on ancestry and heritage, as well as laws that grant “restitution citizenship” to remedy past state wrongs. I refer to these collectively as models of “birthright citizenship.”

Keywords :
development, citizenship, The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services agency (USCIS)

Date Deposited : 31 Mar 2016 10:57

Last Modified : 31 Mar 2016 10:57

Official URL: http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/

Volume 26, Number 1, - 2015 , ISSN 2328-9708

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