ioning the structure of our immigration policy, would also decidenthe role of the birthright citizenship for the children of illegalnand nonimmigrant aliens. That decision is obviouslynonly a small piece of immigration policy. Congress must carefullynweigh the moral claims of these children to membershipnrelative to the claims of other groups, assessing the likelyneffects on illegal immigration of eliminating their presentnguarantee of citizenship, and considering how such a changenshould relate to the more comprehensive, systematic measuresnfor reducing illegal immigration. We are genuinely uncertainnabout how such an evaluation would or should come out. It isnan issue on which reasonable people can differ.nThe second step necessary to realize a consistent, consensualnlaw of citizenship at birth is to render the right of expatriationnmore meaningful. We propose that a formal procedure benestablished and publicized under which any citizen, at thenage of majority, may expatriate himself (preserving citizens’nrights to do so subsequently as well). Despite recurring callsnfor legislation fully prescribing formal expatriation procedures,nthere is no legislated procedure for expatriating oneself withinnthe United States under normal circumstances. As a result,nfew know that an expatriation right exists, and it is procedurallyndifficult to exercise. In that sense, citizenship is more ascribednthan consensual.nWe would not only permit native-born citizens to seek anothernnationality, but would also guarantee them permanentnresidence in the United States if they wished it. Our proposalnwould thus retain the asymmetry, created by Supreme Courtnrulings, between affirming the individual’s right to self-expatriation,nwhile denying the nation’s power to denationalizenthose who are already members. Although a thoroughgoingncommitment to pure consensual membership might seem tonimply a national power to denationalize citizens at will, the existencenof such a power might threaten the vigorous exercise ofnbasic constitutional freedoms, such as First Amendment politicalnrights, or might create a condition of involuntary statelessnessnand thus of acute human vulnerability.nIn our book, we consider a number of objections to ournproposal to reinterpret the constitutional guarantee ofnbirthright citizenship. The most troubling objective is thatnour position does little to address the problem of the influx andnstatus of illegal aliens. Indeed, by eliminating constitutionallynmandated birthright citizenship for their native-born chilrndren, the proposal could (depending upon the magnitude of itsncountervailing disincentives to illegal migration) actually increasenthe number of individuals in illegal status. In this view,nthe current birthright citizenship rule has at least one virtuenthat our proposal lacks. It recognizes that in fact (due largelynto ineffective immigration enforcement) many native-bornnchildren of illegal aliens, along with their parents, will managento remain here indefinitely. Denying birthright citizenshipnto those children would add one more obstacle and disadvantage,none more source of stigma and discrimination, to thosenthey must endure as they continue living in American society,nas many will be able to do. This dilemma is compounded bynthe fact that these children’s life prospects would be cloudednby the action of others over whom they have no control—innthis case, the illegal entry of their parents. Better (defenders ofnthe current rule might argue) to eliminate their cruel disabilitynat the moment of birth than to maintain it thereafter.nAlthough appealing, this argument from life prospects isnultimately unpersuasive. Our proposal to make one’s nation­nal status turn, at least provisionally, on the national status ofnone’s parents seem more morally acceptable and less determinativenof one’s life prospects than many other contingentnfactors—such as inherited wealth, upbringing, or genetic endowment—thatnare far more likely to shape those prospects innfundamental ways. Indeed, our proposal seems less arbitrary innterms of life prospects than the fundamental concept ofnbirthright citizenship itself, which bases national status whollynupon the accident of geographical location at birth. Andneven if the innocence of the child and allied concern for his lifenprospects are accepted as morally or legally relevant, it does notnfollow that citizenship, as distinguished from mere nondiscrimination,nshould be the prize for that innocence. Nondiscriminationndoes not necessarily imply the same rights andnbenefits that citizenship or legal residence status confers.nThese children and their parents, by being denied birthrightncitizenship, would not be treated as the Dred Scott decisionntreated blacks; they would not be denied the law’s protection.nThey would instead be required to choose among continuingnto live in illegal status, with more limited equal protectionnand due rights; seeking to obtain legal status; or returning tontheir home countries.nOur proposed interpretation would, moreover, produce atnleast one benefit. The government of a more truly consensualnpolity could more truthfully proclaim to citizens, residentnaliens, and illegal aliens alike that American citizenship standsnon a firm foundation of freely willed membership. It couldnmore credibly claim the contemporaneous allegiance and, ifnnecessary, the personal sacrifice of its citizens than it was ablento do during the Vietnam War and other corrosive nationalnconflicts. It could more persuasively invoke what it now cannonly baldly assert—a legitimacy grounded in a fresh, vital,nand always revocable consent. <5>nLIBERAL ARTSnTHE ETHICS OF LIFEnThe French Cabinet last March approved a biomedical codenof ethics limiting surrogate motherhood and artificial insemination.nAccording to Reuters news service, exceptions fornsurrogate motherhood include “cases in which the woman isnsterile,” and a woman whose “husband has a genetic disease”nmay be artificially inseminated. The code also limits manipulationnof genes, outlaws the sale of blood or organs, andnbans experimentation on “any part of a person’s body withoutnprior consent.”nnnJULY 1992/25n