Making 'universal basic income' universal: an argument for residency based ubi over citizenship based UBI

AuthorJacob Nava
PositionJ.D. Student, Georgetown University Law Center, 2023; B.B.A. Summa Cum Laude, Lubbock Christian University, 2019
Pages139-156
MAKING ‘UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME’
UNIVERSAL: AN ARGUMENT FOR RESIDENCY
BASED UBI OVER CITIZENSHIP BASED UBI
JACOB NAVA*
ABSTRACT
Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a social welfare program that has
grown in popularity in recent years. Several trials have shown that UBI can
increase the overall wealth and health of individuals. While several questions
surround the implementation of UBI, this Note will focus on who should
receive UBI and whether it should truly be universal. This Note argues for
a residency-based UBI over a citizenship-based UBI. The line between U.S.
permanent resident status and U.S. citizenship status creates a difference in
available rights and benefits among individuals. Long-term Permanent
Residents (LPR’s) do not receive the same rights and social welfare bene-
fits as do U.S. Citizens. This legal distinction leads to taxation without repre-
sentation and the perpetuation of the wealth gap between LPR’s and U.S.
Citizens. Using neoclassical models of migration, this Note shows that UBI
being available to LPR’s instead of only citizens would not have a significant
effect on international migration patterns. This Note also argues against the
welfare magnet hypothesis and instead introduces other soft factors that may
be a factor in whether someone decides to migrate.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION ......................................... 140
I. WHAT IS UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME?...................... 141
A. Universal Basic Income Around the World............ 142
II. ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF A UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME . . . . . . . . . . . . 143
A. Results of Universal Basic Income Experiments. . . . . . . . 143
* J.D. Student, Georgetown University Law Center, 2023; B.B.A. Summa Cum Laude, Lubbock
Christian University, 2019. © 2022, Jacob Nava.
139
B. Data From COVID-19 Stimulus Checks .............. 144
C. Arguments in Favor of a Universal Basic Income . . . . . . . 144
D. Arguments Against Universal Basic Income . . . . . . . . . . . 145
III. APPLYING UBI TO IMMIGRATION ......................... 147
A. Normative Migration Models. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147
B. Problems With Normative Theories ................. 148
C. Social Programs and Their Effects on Migration . . . . . . . . 150
IV. CITIZENSHIP-BASED VS RESIDENCY-BASED UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME:
CURRENT STATE OF RESIDENTS AND SOCIAL WELFARE PROGRAMS . . . 152
A. Effects of a Citizenship-Based Universal Basic Income. . . 152
B. The Problem with a Citizenship-Based Universal Basic
Income . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154
C. Effects of a Residency-Based Universal Basic Income. . . . 154
V. A PATH FORWARD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155
INTRODUCTION
Universal basic income (UBI) has become a hot topic in the political dis-
course in the United States and around the world. While the concept has been
around for decades, 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang brought the
idea to the forefront of many Americans’ minds. His campaign reinvigorated
the conversation around UBI. Although Yang fell short of his goal of winning
the presidential election, one can see his influence, beginning with the start
of the COVID-19 pandemic. With a country in lockdown, Congress approved
three rounds of stimulus checks in the amounts of $1,200, $600, and $1,400.
These cash payments were sent directly to citizens with no conditions
attached. These direct payments were reminiscent of the $1,000 a month UBI
that Yang ran his campaign on.
Although Yang himself ran as a Democrat during the 2020 presidential
election, individuals across the political spectrum have touted the idea of
UBI. Milton Friedman, a Nobel prize winning economist and prominent lib-
ertarian, was a large proponent of a negative income tax
1
Rebecca Linke, Negative Income Tax, Explained, MIT (Fed. 7, 2018), https://perma.cc/5X3K-
FNR9.
, an idea signifi-
cantly similar to a basic income. Martin Luther King Jr., a socialist, was also
1.
140 GEORGETOWN IMMIGRATION LAW JOURNAL [Vol. 37:139

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