WHAT MAKES SOMEONE A CITIZEN?

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.

This time last year, world health experts were speculating about why Africa appeared to have escaped the worst of the global pandemic. Younger populations? Natural immunity created by exposure to past viruses? Something else?

They can stop wondering. Africa is now in the grip of a COVID emergency.

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Listen: Stanford historian Niall Ferguson joins Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast to talk about the geopolitics of disaster. Throughout human history we seem to be unable to adequately prepare for catastrophes (natural or human-caused) before they strike. Why is that? And as we emerge from the greatest calamity of our lifetimes in the COVID-19 pandemic and look to the plethora of crises that climate change has and will cause, what can we do to lessen the blow?

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Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred two Republican members from serving on the Jan. 6 commission. What's going on?

Well, the Jan. 6 commission was designed to be a bipartisan commission, taking input from members from Democrats and Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had the opportunity to make recommendations but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, could always veto those recommendations. In this case, she did, saying no to two members, Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, both of whom are strongly aligned with President Trump and who voted against certifying the election results in 2020. The Republicans for the most part see the Jan. 6 commission as an opportunity to score political points against them, and the Democrats say this is going to be a fair, non-biased, and nonpartisan investigation into what happened on Jan. 6, starting with a hearing next week with some of the police officers who were involved in the battle with the protesters inside the Capitol.

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In his New York Times op-ed, David Brooks says the US is facing an identity crisis — protecting liberal and progressive values at home while doing little to stop autocrats elsewhere. But has the US really abandoned its values abroad just because it's withdrawing from Afghanistan? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst take out the Red Pen to argue that the US can advance democracy without being the world's sheriff.

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When the Tokyo Olympics begin on Friday, Japan watchers will be following more than just the performance of Japan's star athletes, including tennis star Naomi Osaka. They will also be tracking the political fortunes of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is taking a big gamble by staging the event — amid a raging pandemic — in the face of strong and longstanding opposition from the Japanese public. What are the stakes for Suga, particularly with elections on the horizon? Eurasia Group senior analyst Ali Wyne explains.

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YouTube pulls Bolsonaro's rants: Google-owned YouTube pulled down a series of videos on the channel of Brazil's populist President Jair Bolsonaro, accusing him of spreading misinformation about the pandemic. YouTube removed more than a dozen clips for touting quack cures for coronavirus or claiming, in defiance of scientific experts, that masks don't reduce COVID transmissions. Last year, Twitter and Facebook also removed some content from Bolsonaro's feeds for similar reasons. But critics say that YouTube's move is too little too late, because Bolsonaro has been spreading misinformation about COVID since the pandemic began. Many Brazilians hold him personally responsible for the country's abysmal pandemic response, which has led to almost 550,000 deaths, the second worst toll in the world. Will YouTube's move change Bolsonaro's message? His weekly address to the nation, where he converses not only with government ministers but also various conspiracy theorists and loons, is broadcast on YouTube. Surely he doesn't want to risk losing that — or does he?

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Boycotts! Bans! Protests! Drugs! Think you've got gold medal knowledge about politics at the Olympics? Test what you know with this special Tokyo Olympics Quiz. And to stay current on all the latest political stories at the Games and around the world, subscribe here to Signal, our daily newsletter. Now, without further ado, the first question is...

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