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Citizenship by double birthright in France Citizenship by double birthright in France
by Joseph Gatt
2021-03-17 10:41:56
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Having just finished reading Thomas Sowell's “intellectuals and society”, the author wonderfully points out how intellectuals can be misled, and can be misleading, including by believing false theories, or myths that are constantly repeated in the media or by academia.

One of the myths Thomas Sowell discusses is US President Herbert Hoover's legacy. Herbert Hoover presided over the 1929 stock market crash, and is credited for causing the crash and doing nothing about it. Serious historians however have pointed out that Herbert Hoover took drastic measures to limit the damage, and that... Herbert Hoover was the father of the series of measures that led to the “New Deal”, and that FDR's policies were really just a continuation of Herbert Hoover's policies.

passp001_400The other myth the media loves sharing, which is a myth: that Supreme Court Justice Clearance Thomas is a quiet, dull, almost dumb Justice of the Supreme Court. Clearance Thomas indeed does not talk to the press, but he has written a couple of books. And more importantly, while Clearance Thomas is quiet on the bench, behind the scenes, he has something of a reputation of being the most talkative and chatty of all justices. Accounts and testimonies have it that Clearance Thomas loves chatting with his clerks, often heads to the Senate (that very Senate that spoiled his reputation) and has lunch with Senators, and is a man of many, many friends.

As for Clearance Thomas' “lack of intellect” (the media used to say that Thomas did whatever the late Justice Scalia told him to do) those who worked behind the scenes know that Clearance Thomas in fact influenced the late Justice Scalia a great deal, and Thomas was often the one lecturing Scalia, not the other way around.

So let's bust a myth in the French media that activists love repeating: that French extremists want to abolish the “droit du sol” or the right to Jus Solis citizenship.

In Canada and the US, if you are born in the land or in a territory, you are usually automatically a citizen (there are quite a few exceptions to this rule: the children of foreign government officials are not granted automatic citizenship at birth). No other country grants automatic citizenship at birth.

France does not grant automatic citizenship at birth. To automatically become a French citizen, France has always applied something called “double birthright citizenship.” That is if you are a child born in French territory to a parent who was born in any territory that was administered by France, you are an automatic citizen. So it's the child + the parents who should be born on French soil.

How this applies concretely?

Korean celebrity Ida Daussy was born in France. She gave up French citizenship to adopt Korean citizenship. However, knowing what the law says, she gave birth to her children in France. That way, even though Ida Daussy is no longer French, her children remain French, because she was born on French territory, and so were her children. This enabled her children to have access to French rights, including the right to attend the French school (which Korean citizens are not allowed to attend), tuition waivers from the French school, and exemption from Korean military conscription for her children.

Zidane was born in Marseille, France, to parents who were born in Algeria, but at the time his parents were born, Algeria was a French colony administered by France. So Zidane was granted automatic citizenship at birth.

Some people ask me: what about all those Eastern Europeans like singers Charles Aznavour or Serge Gainsbourg who were born in France to foreign parents but received automatic French citizenship in the 1920s?

In the 1920s, refugees were usually stateless. Gainsbourg's parents fled the pogroms in Ukraine, and lost Ukrainian (or Soviet) citizenship. So, being stateless, his parents were granted French citizenship, which transferred to Gainsbourg. Same goes to Aznavour whose parents were stateless Armenian refugees who were granted French citizenship, which transferred to Aznavour.

There have been videos during election campaigns naming celebrities who were born in France to foreign parents, and the video claims that “extremists want to abolish citizenship by birthright, and these celebrities would not be French citizens by birthright.”

Problem is: those celebrities were either citizens by “double birthright” (birth of a parent AND the child on French soil) or they were citizens by birthright because of their stateless status (loss of Eastern European citizenship usually).

Just to clarify that there is no French citizenship by birthright. If you were not born on French territory, and that your child was born in France, your child will have to attend a French school for 8 years to qualify for naturalization.

However, children under the age of 18 present as illegal immigrants in France can not be deported. And illegal immigrant parents of minor children can delay their deportation until their child reaches the age of 18. The other thing is presence on French territory for 10 years, regardless of legal status (legal or illegal immigrant) automatically get granted permanent residency.

There is also a rumor that asylum judges tend to be more lenient with parents whose children were born on French soil. That is false as well. Asylum judges usually review the case based on evidence that asylum seekers would be in danger if they returned to their home country. If the judge finds evidence that asylum seekers would be safe if they went back to their home countries (and that usually includes consultation with the home country of asylum seekers) and judge usually refuses to grant asylum.

A “cruel” example is that many asylum seekers say that they would be in danger in their “village” or “city” if they returned to their country, in which case the judge often rejects the asylum application and tells the applicants to “pick another city where you would be safe.” In sum, you have to prove that your life would be in danger in the entire country for you to be granted asylum.   

But some couples move to France and give birth to “anchor babies” and stay in the country illegally but can't be deported. Then you have “false paternity” that is parents who declare their nephews or nieces or distant relatives, or the children of friends, as their children to avoid being deported. And then you have adults old enough to be 40 but who claim to be 14 to avoid being deported in the next 4 years.

But, just to clarify things, a child born in France to parents who were not born on French soil is not granted automatic citizenship. If Zidane's parents had been born in Egypt, he would only have been naturalized in the 8th grade.

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