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date: 14 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explains why a growing number of people across the globe experience precarious citizenship--they cannot gain access to secure and permanent legal statuses for protracted periods. Ambiguous and temporary legal statuses are spreading because they represent a strategic government response to avoid resolving dilemmas about citizenship (especially questions about the incorporation of minorities, refugees, or labor migrants) by postponing those decisions, perhaps indefinitely. Moreover, the very processes of boundary-enforcement (biometric IDs and deportations) have pulled more people into the documentary power of the state without providing them a secure place within it. Four categories are discussed: 1) individuals who cannot obtain national identity documents and become stateless; 2) individuals who may have identity documents but lack residency authorization and become ‘illegal’; and a spectrum of groups with temporary statuses that are neither stateless nor fully unauthorized, including (3) temporary humanitarian protection or (4) temporary labor statuses.

Keywords: Identity documents, migration enforcement, state, biometrics, deportations, ‘illegal’ immigrants, temporary labor, refugees

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