Monday, September 20, 2021

Immigration Article of the Day: Unequal Access: Wealth as Barrier and Accelerator to Citizenship by Ayelet Stachar


Unequal Access: Wealth as Barrier and Accelerator to Citizenship by Ayelet Stachar, Citizenship Studies 25 (2021), 543-563


Combining insights from the history of ideas with contemporary legal analysis, this article both highlights and problematizes what we may call sorting strategies – restrictive closure and selective openness – which rely on “varieties of affluence” (income, wealth, equity, credit, and the like) in shaping possibilities for entry, settlement, and naturalization. By emphasizing the growing significance of income barriers and thresholds on the one hand, and fast-tracked investment-based entryways on the other, this article investigates the role of affluence as both accelerator and barrier to citizenship, contributing to the varied toolbox used by governments to advance goals that may at times appear contradictory; these tools both restrict and relax the requirements of access to membership at the same time. These new developments represent different facets of the same trend. Without explicitly stating as much, programs that turn wealth into a core criterion for admission conceptually reignite an older, exclusive, and exclusionary vision according to which individuals must hold property (in land, resources, or in relation to one’s “dependents,” including women, slaves, and children) in order to qualify as a citizen. While such a trajectory is no stranger to ancient models, it raises profound challenges to modernist accounts of political membership that place equality at their core.


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