November 11, 2005

Jus Soli (Birthright Citizenship) and the riots

A reader writes:

I have a theory that may at least partially explain why its so much worse in France. France has birthright citizenship. In the other European countries, citizenship is far more sparingly granted. For example, I believe that almost all of the Turks in Germany are NOT German citizens. [This is called jus sanguinis or "right of blood, as opposed to France's jus soli or "right of soil" (i.e., birthplace).]

Why does birthright citizenship exacerbate social problems? A few possible reasons:

1. French rioters generally assume that they can't be deported. After all, they are citizens. In this respect they are correct. Given that the penalty for rioting is either nothing (only a tiny fraction are ever caught) or two months in jail, there is really very little downside. Of course, today Sarkozy announced that immigrant (not just illegal) rioters would be deported. However, only 120 of the 1800 or so arrested so far would appear to qualify for deportation. Indeed, this low percentage may demonstrate that only "French" youths immune from any possibility of serious punishment, are rioting.

2. The possession of French citizenship has probably given the rioters are vastly inflated sense of entitlement. They are told from childhood that they are equal citizens of France and therefore entitled to the French version of the La Dolce Vita. Of course, they lack the skills, work ethic, discipline, education, etc. to actually participate in middle-class French life. However, these minor points are easily overlooked by the chronically resentful. Perhaps if they weren't citizens their expectations would be lower and their sense of disappointment, resentment, hatred, and rage diminished. In more practical terms, perhaps they would be more willing to take the low-wage jobs that they are actually qualified for and which do exist in France. Many interviews with rioters have included mention of some dead-end job they quit because "they didn't like it".

My above points are far from flawless. Riots have occurred in Belgium and Denmark where I don't think the immigrants are citizens even after two or three generations. The counterpoint may be that rioters in these countries may have viewed themselves as immune from deportation (rightfully so, at least so far).

Conversely, the more stable immigrant communities in Germany may also reflect ethnic differences among immigrant groups. Turks predominate in Germany and are generally a more disciplined group. Not that Turks in Germany are without problems. (See this Der Spiegel article on honor killings of Turkish women who want to live like Germans.)

What does this mean for the U.S.? Obviously birthright citizenship is a dangerous policy. However, so is keeping non-citizens within one's borders who were actually born here. Birthright citizenship has to go along with any non-citizens (illegals) who happen to be born here.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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