Stateless in the United States: Current Reality and a Future Prediction

73 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2012 Last revised: 3 May 2013

See all articles by Polly J. Price

Polly J. Price

Emory University School of Law

Date Written: September 30, 2012


Statelessness exists in the United States, a fact that should be of concern to advocates of strict immigration control as well as those who favor a more welcoming policy. The predominant reasons for 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. Migrants with unclear nationality, already a problem for the United States, obstruct efforts to control immigration by the deportation of unauthorized aliens. These existing problems of national identity will increase exponentially if birthright citizenship in the United States is amended to exclude the children of undocumented aliens. Contrary to common assumptions, proposed changes to U.S. citizenship law would exacerbate statelessness into the next generation when no fall-back nationality is available.

Effective statelessness throughout the Western Hemisphere (documented in this paper) is currently an issue for the United States because of existing migration patterns. This paper also explains how the citizenship laws of other nations could produce statelessness at birth in the United States, if the US practice of territorial birthright citizenship is changed.

Keywords: jus soli, jus sanguinis, nationality, citizenship, stateless, statelessness, deportation, immigration, immigration control, alien, undocumented alien, birthright citizenship, Birthright Citizenship Act of 2011, deport, deportation, birth certificate, nationality identity, Western Hemisphere, visa

Suggested Citation

Price, Polly J., Stateless in the United States: Current Reality and a Future Prediction (September 30, 2012). Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 46, No. 443, 2013, Emory Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-229, Available at SSRN: or

Polly J. Price (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

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