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Washington International Law Journal

Article Title

The Right to Remain

Abstract

Article 12.4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states, “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country.” Citizens clearly enjoy Article 12.4 rights, but this article demonstrates that this right reaches beyond the citizenry. Using customary methods of treaty interpretation, including reference to the ICCPR’s preparatory works and the jurisprudence of the Human Rights Committee, this article demonstrates that Article 12.4 also forbids States from deporting long-term resident noncitizens—both documented and undocumented—except under the rarest circumstances. As a result, the ICCPR right to remain in one’s own country is a right that should be particularly valuable to the many people in the world who have lived in, and established a relationship with, a country which is not their country of citizenship—including lawful permanent residents, long-term refugees, Dreamers and other long-term undocumented residents, and people born in countries without birthright citizenship. These people cannot be deported from the countries they call home.

First Page

315

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