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Paths to citizenship? Public views on the extension of rights to legal and second-generation immigrants in Europe




This study uses variations in the legal-institutional frameworks of citizenship to explore cross-nationally public views about granting equal rights to legal immigrants and citizenship status to second-generation immigrants in 20 European countries. We link the literatures on citizenship regimes and attitudes toward immigrants to construct a conceptual model that is tested using ISSP data from 2003 and a set of matching contextual measures. Results from hierarchical linear regression analyses indicate that (1) opposition to the extension of rights to legal immigrants is augmented by shorter periods of required residency for naturalization and (2) granting citizenship status to second-generation immigrants is not sensitive to whether a regime consents or not to citizenship by birth. Net of individual and contextual controls, the findings also show that resistance to the expansion of rights to legal immigrants is higher in countries consenting to dual citizenship. Furthermore, our analyses reveal that Eastern European respondents do not differ significantly from their Western counterparts with respect to extending rights to either category of immigrants. These results are discussed in reference to the diversity of citizenship regimes in Europe and in light of the existing debates on harmonizing immigration policies.