Current Issue

Volume 81, Number 1

April 2006

Homeward Bound

Anupam Chander

In Home and Away: The Construction of Citizenship in an Emigration Context, Kim Barry argues that more attention must be paid to the emigrant and to the policies of emigration states. Taking up her suggestion, this Article closely describes the array of devices that emigration states have used to nurture bonds with their expatriates. The taxonomy offered here subdivides these bonding mechanisms into political, economic, and cultural devices. Governments seeking to cement political ties have offered dual citizenship, voting from abroad, direct representation of expatriates, special visas for the diaspora, and government-issued diaspora membership documents. States have sought to capitalize on the economic strength of their overseas members by soliciting their support for sovereign “diaspora bonds,” development programs, and direct investment. They have also sought to attract returnees, who will often bring with them significant financial and human capital, and to ease return by negotiating for returnees’ pensions to be transferred to them from the nation in which they worked. Finally, nations have sought to reshape their own collective image to include the diaspora, achieving this through explicit state recognition of the diaspora, establishment of agencies to serve the diaspora, legal protections for their overseas citizens, and special outreach to youth and retirees living abroad. The second half of the Article turns to the question of whether there are any instances when host states’ laws would prevent emigration states from pursuing these sorts of bonding mechanisms with their overseas citizens. Working with U.S. law as a test case, it appears that constitutional safeguards for civil liberties limit the U.S. government’s ability to regulate emigration states’ efforts to maintain ties with their diaspora members residing in the United States. However, these limits are relaxed when U.S. foreign policy concerns, particularly ones relating to national security, are at stake. Further, U.S. laws of general applicability,such as securities laws, and U.S. courts’ unwillingness to enforce foreign revenue laws may make it more difficult for emigration states to pursue certain bonding mechanisms. Despite these limits, though, the domestic laws of immigration states like the United States should provide sufficient space for emigration states to bond with their diasporas. The Article concludes with a tribute to Kim Barry and the power of her voice.