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Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Glocalisation of Federal Citizenship Legislation

Elke Winter
University of Ottawa
Elke Winter
University of Ottawa
Open Panel

Abstract

In recent years, many Western countries have redesigned their immigration and citizenship legislations. These changes are reactions to external forces: the globalization of migration, international security concerns, suprational governance, and, the transnationalization of citizenship. However, a closer look shows us that these legislations are also shaped by domestic politics, which are often related to cleavages on the sub-state level. In fact, if citizenship legislation usually falls under the mandate of the central government, this mandate is neither without contradictions nor uncontested by local stakeholders. Citizenship tests, for example, are often administered at the provincial or sub-state level. In some cases, such as the German Land Baden-Wurttemberg, the state government pursues its own Interviewleitfaden in addition to the national test. In other countries, minority nations such as Quebec practice their own citizenship politics independently from legislation at the federal level. Examining the very recent changes to the Canadian and German immigration and citizenship legislation (2005-2010), this paper concentrates on a trendsetter in the international competition for highly skilled professionals, and a latecomer to the game. For both countries, the paper first traces the impact of external influences upon citizenship legislation. It then examines the impact of sub-state politics upon this legislation. It concludes by discussing the problems and inconsistencies for immigrants and future citizens that arise from these contradicting influences.