“Racialisation” and “Ethnicization” of the Law through Merit

It is well-known that some citizenships are better than others in terms of the rights and protection they confer, and generate important inequalities. It is also well-documented that, depending on their cultural and socioeconomic background, non-citizens tend to be treated differently. Moreover, among citizens of the same country, inequalities persist. Based on several examples in Europe and in the US, this paper argues that a lot of these inequalities are rooted in a “racialisation” or “ethnicization” of the law and policies through exclusive or inclusive factors based on merit. Firstly, it will be argued that there is a strong “racialisation” or “ethnicization” of immigration and citizenship policies, linked to an idea of merit. Secondly, beyond the sphere of citizenship and immigration, it will be shown that underprivileged citizens – including racial and ethnic minorities – are marginalized through the exclusion of social rights based on an idea of merit.