WHAT MAKES SOMEONE A CITIZEN?

On Monday, President Trump suggested in an interview with Axios that he’s asked his legal team to look into doing away with birthright citizenship, a constitutional guarantee that all people born on US soil are automatically granted citizenship. It’s unlikely to happen: implementing such a policy would require either a substantial break with legal precedent or a constitutional amendment.


Still, the president’s comment got us thinking—who gets to be called a citizen, and why? The answer, naturally, depends on where you’re born.

Equality For All Under Law? The US confers citizenship on those who’re born on US soil or have at least one citizen parent. President Trump’s comments suggest the administration intends to argue that the 14th Amendment, which details these citizenship rights, only applies to the children of lawful permanent residents—precluding from citizenship the children of migrants who’ve come to the US illegally. The 14thAmendment and birthright citizenship are a product of the post-Civil War era, in which the full protections of the law were extended to former slaves and their children. Beyond the legal questions around Trump’s proposal, his policy would represent a radical push to redefine US citizenship and reinterpret a politically charged era in US history.

Disappearing Migrants: While France grants citizenship on the basis of both blood and (with some restrictions) birth, it requires those without French ancestry to undergo linguistic and cultural education. In contrast to the US, where the constitution does not specify an official language and offers no guidance on assimilation, the French model assumes a certain benefit in migrants’ adoption of French cultural values and dictates how they should ultimately fit into society. As former French President Nicolas Sarkozy once remarked approvingly, “Assimilation means: I make you disappear.”

Blood, Not Soil: In India, as in many countries across Europe, Asia, and Africa, you’re a citizen so long as one of your parents is too, but you do not qualify by simply being born on national soil. India’s concept of citizenship is partly due to the messy process its leaders faced in dealing with the country’s partition in 1947, when control was permanently handed over from the British and India was severed from neighboring Pakistan. In that moment, India was forced to contend with the resettlement of millions of people. The solution it settled on was to grant citizenship to anyone living on Indian territory in 1950 and restrict future migrants from automatic access to this privilege. The lasting result is a more exclusive understanding of what it means to be an Indian today.

When Donald Trump first started talking about buying Greenland last week, we figured it was a weird story with less legs than a Harp seal.

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The Amazon in flames – More than 70,000 forest fires are burning in Brazil right now, most of them in the Amazon. That's up 84% over the same period last year, and it's the highest number on record. This is the dry season when farmers burn certain amounts of forest legally to clear farmland. But critics say Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro's efforts to loosen conservation rules have encouraged farmers, loggers, and miners to set more fires, many of them illegally. Bolsonaro – a science skeptic who recently fired the head of the agency that tracks deforestation – says, without proof, that NGOs are setting the fires to embarrass his government. Meanwhile, the EU is holding up a major trade deal with Brazil unless Bolsonaro commits to higher environmental protection standards, including those that affect the Amazon.

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Over the past fifty years, the Amazon rainforest has shrunk by an area equal to the size of Turkey. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Brazilian government supported settlement of the sparsely populated region for security reasons. Since then, huge swaths of the forest -- which is crucial for limiting the world's greenhouse gasses -- have been cleared for farmland used to feed Brazil's population and support its massive agricultural exports. Greater awareness of the environmental impacts in the 1990s produced tighter conservation regulations, though plenty of illegal clearing continues. In recent years, the annual deforestation rate has begun to rise again, and Brazil's new president Jair Bolsonaro has pledged to weaken regulations further in order to support businesses.

3: The US has recruited Australia to join its nascent mission of protecting ships in the critical Strait of Hormuz. Along with Britain and Bahrain, Australia is now the third country to join the US-led maritime mission, as high seas brinksmanship with the Iranians continues.

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