The problem with Statelessness Determination Procedures
The United States may soon become the next country to pass Statelessness Determination Procedures to identify stateless people living in the US and place them on a pathway to naturalization. A recent article discusses the pitfalls that may happen when nationals are incorrectly identified as stateless.
A recent study estimated there may be as many as 250,000 stateless people living in the US, most of them in immigrant communities. Because of birthright citizenship, the United States is unlikely to have many stateless people who were born in the US, but such cases are not impossible. But the problem is very common in many countries that do not practice birthright citizenship. So common, in fact, that there are likely to be far more people living stateless in the country of their birth than anywhere else. Countries with large stateless populations who have never crossed a border include Côte d’Ivoire, Thailand, Nepal and the Dominican Republic.
Nevertheless, to solve the problem of stateless immigrants, over 20 countries have created new immigration procedures to identify stateless people, often with the intent to ease their naturalization. As a recent study shows, however, many countries also have insufficient protections for their undocumented nationals, stateless people who live in the country of their birth and have no ties to any other country via which they could claim nationality. There are no solutions for them.
While it is important to identify and help stateless immigrants, particularly in countries like the US with birthright citizenship, most countries do not have birthright citizenship and many contain large numbers of undocumented nationals. Is it just to provide stateless immigrants a solution, while leaving undocumented nationals without one?