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Law - USA

Research topics


Citizenship and National Identity: A Comparative Analysis of Citizenship Acquisition and Expatriation Policies in the United States and France

Governments have long used control over citizenship to shape national identity. This project engages in a comparative analysis of French and U.S. laws and policies regarding citizenship acquisition and forced expatriation to explore the connections between these policies and existential questions of national identity, national security, and democratic governance.

Both the United States and France originally embraced birthright citizenship, and the United States incorporated birthright citizenship into its Constitution after the Civil War. But both countries have repeatedly questioned the policy. In 1993, France modified birthright citizenship to bar children born in France to non-citizen parents from obtaining citizenship until age eighteen. Although birthright citizenship remains in place in the United States, some politicians and academics have questioned whether it is consistent with immigration policies, security, and American democratic ideals. Both the United States and France have also debated whether citizens should lose that status as a punishment for certain beliefs or acts, and in particular for engaging in terrorism. Finally, both countries have been accused of de facto expatriating citizens by refusing to grant some citizens passports, birth certificates, the right to vote, the right to return, or access to other privileges considered to be at the core of citizenship. This project will compare the French and American approaches to citizenship acquisition and expatriation to shed light on how a nation’s history and self-perception can shape these existential policy choices.

Activities / Resume


Amanda Frost is a law professor at American University in Washington, D.C., where she specializes in immigration and citizenship law. Her articles have appeared in numerous law reviews, and her non-academic writing has been published in The Atlantic, Slate, the Washington Post, the New York Times, USA Today, and the L.A. Times. In 2019, she was awarded a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies to support her book project, Unmaking Americans: A History of Citizenship Stripping in the United States, which is scheduled for publication by Beacon Press in 2020.
Before entering academia, Amanda Frost clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, worked for the Senate Judiciary Committee, served as Acting Director of the Immigrant Justice Clinic, and spent a year as a Fulbright Scholar studying transparency reform in the European Union. She received her B.A. from Harvard College and her J.D. from Harvard Law School.


  • Unmaking Americans: A History of Citizenship Stripping in the United States (Beacon Press, forthcoming 2020)
  • Immigration in the Obama Era, in The U.S. Supreme Court and Contemporary Constitutional Law: The Obama Era and Its Legacy (Anna-Bettina Kaiser, Niels Petersen, and Johannes Saurer eds.) (Routledge, 2018).
  • Maslenjak v. United States: Immigration, Expatriation, and the Plenary Power Doctrine, in American Constitution Society Supreme Court Review 2016-17.
  • In Defense of Nationwide Injunctions, 93 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 1065 (2018).
  • Cooperative Enforcement in Immigration Law, 103 Iowa L. Rev. 1 (2017).
  • Can the Government Deport Immigrants Using Information it Encouraged them to Provide?, 2 Admin. L. Rev. Accord 97 (2017).
  • Independence and Immigration, 89 Southern California Law Review 485 (2016) (symposium contribution).
  • Learning from Our Mistakes: Using Immigration Enforcement Errors to Guide Reform, 92 Denver University Law Review 770 (2015) (symposium contribution).
  • Inferiority Complex: Should State Courts Follow Federal Court Precedent on the Meaning of Federal Law? 68 Vanderbilt Law Review 53 (2015).
  • The hidden constitutional threat in Trump’s travel-ban lawsuit, Washington Post, op-ed, Apr. 25, 2018.
  • The Role and Impact of Nationwide Injunctions: Written Testimony for the House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, Nov. 30, 2017
  • Some DACA ‘dreamers’ have legal options despite Trump, USA Today, op-ed, Sep. 7, 2017
  • How Painful Can Trump Make the Lives of Immigrants, Slate, Nov. 16, 2016
  • The Overlooked Pathways to Legal Status, The Atlantic, June 19, 2016
  • Limit State Access to Federal Court, N.Y. Times, Dec. 22, 2015 (with Stephen Vladeck