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In chapter 1, Polly J. Price explores the hidden problem of ineffective citizenship throughout the Americas. Jus soli is endorsed in international agreements as the preferred mechanism to avoid statelessness. But a nearly universal jus soli in the Western Hemisphere often fails to resolve nationality, due to poor documentation of births, government policy and practice, and intentional discrimination. Migrants in the Americas are particularly at risk. Many persons who are entitled to citizenship cannot prove it, or proof is disregarded by officials. Citizenship status, in turn, determines a person’s political, civic, and economic rights. In the United States, the predominant reasons for effective statelessness include the presence of individuals who are unable to prove their nationality, as well as the failure of their countries of origin to recognize them as citizens. Contrary to common assumptions, the elimination of birthright citizenship in the United States would exacerbate statelessness.

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