Reconsidering US immigration reform: The temporal principle of citizenship

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13 Scopus citations


The uncertain political status of America's millions of undocumented immigrants and their children has exposed deep and ongoing disagreement about how US citizenship should be accorded to foreign-born persons. I identify the principle of jus temporis, a law of measured calendrical time, that has worked in concert with jus soli and consent to construct citizenship law since the nation's founding. Jus temporis translates measured durations of time such as "time in residence" or "time worked" into entitlement to rights and status. It creates temporal algorithms in which measured calendrical time plus additional variables (e.g., physical presence, education, or behavior) equals consent to citizenship. I explore recent scholarly references to temporal principles and trace the history of how jus temporis was invoked by the nation's first Supreme Court jurisprudence on citizenship and the first Congressional debates about immigration and naturalization. Scholarly convergence on the principle of jus temporis as well as its originalist pedigree imbue this principle with the potential to resolve contemporary disagreements about the rights and status of foreign-born persons in the US.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)575-583
Number of pages9
JournalPerspectives on Politics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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