Friday 8 April 2005, by Agamben Giorgio
Who is entitled to differentiate between the citizen and the immigrant and what are the theoretical positions? Here Giorgio Agamben’s work on sovereignty is useful. Sovereignty is the mechanism through which nationalism and the separation of the citizen from the immigrant takes place. Agamben situates in time this differentiation of the citizen from the individual at the centre of the French revolution and the creation of the nation state. «In the system of the nation-state, the so-called sacred and inalienable rights of man show themselves to lack every protection and reality at the moment in which they can no longer take the form of rights belonging to citizens of a state. If one considers the matter, this is in fact implicit in the ambiguity of the very title of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen of 1789.» 
This differentiation of citizens from individuals in general as rights holders is central to the concept of sovereignty, tied to the nation state. «Declarations of rights must therefore be viewed as the place in which the passage from divinely authorised royal sovereignty to national sovereignty is accomplished. This passage assures the exceptio of life in the new state order that will succeed the collapse of the ancien régime».  Thus the second step of the theoretical framework is how bare life is transformed into a citizen and becomes the bearer of sovereignty. This is then separated from the individual without citizenship who does not have this characteristic of sovereignty inherent in him or her. In support of this central understanding of the modern world Agamben notes that «one of the few rules to which the Nazis constantly adhered during the course of the ‘Final Solution’ was that Jews could be sent to the extermination camps only after they have been fully denationalised (stripped even of the residual citizenship left to them after the Nuremberg laws).»  The concept of sovereignty which is inherent in the citizen creates a fundamental difference between the individual as citizen and as immigrant. The immigrant, by definition does not have the capacity of sovereignty within him or her and thus the rights and guarantees of citizenship can be withheld from him or her.
Giorgio Agamben,Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare LifeStanford University Press, Stanford, 1998
 Agamben, Giorgio, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1998, p 126.
 Ibid p 128.
 Ibid p 132.