Immigration, Naturalization, and the Purpose of Citizenship

It is widely believed that immigrants, after some time, acquire a claim to naturalize and become citizens of their new state. What explains this claim? Although existing answers (may) succeed in justifying some of immigrants’ rights claims, they cannot justify the claim that immigrants are owed the opportunity to naturalize because these theories lack a sufficiently rich account of the purpose of citizenship. To fill this gap, I offer a novel egalitarian account of citizenship. Citizenship, on this account, partially protects immigrants against social hierarchy by realizing social equality in a publicly accessible manner. This explains claims to naturalize.

Daniel Sharp, “Immigration, Naturalization, and the Purpose of Citizenship“, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 2023.