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Policymakers and lawyers posit formal citizenship as the key to inclusion. Rather than presume that formal citizenship will necessarily promote equality, this Article examines the relationship between citizenship, racial equality, and nationalism. It asks: What role does formal citizenship play in excluding noncitizens and Asian, Latinx, and Muslim citizens racialized as foreigners? What effects does it have on the meaning of being American as a non-White citizen? The Article argues that commitments to colorblind equality and democratic self-governance of the nation stand in contradiction to aspirations to protect all persons within the nation. Consequently, individual rights designed to remedy racial inequality will not level citizenship inequalities. The institutional aspects of citizenship require reforms to the structural aspects of citizenship inequality as well-especially political inequality. This new approach requires rethinking the relationship between citizenship and the nation and how noncitizens can be involved in politics.

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Cardozo Law Review