Italy PM says citizenship bill to make Italy safer – Xinhua

Coming to terms with reality:

Granting citizenship to children born in Italy of immigrant parents is the right thing to do and will make Italy safer, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said Saturday.

The so-called “ius soli” (“law of the soil” in Latin) bill has become a hot-button issue after last Sunday’s local elections which saw strong gains by the rightwing, anti-immigrant Northern League across Italy.

In remarks at a televised forum organized by La Repubblica newspaper in the northern city of Bologna, the center-left prime minister rebutted opponents of the bill.

The ius soli bill, which is supported by center-left parties and the business sector, would grant citizenship to children born in Italy of foreign parents, and to kids who have spent at least five years in the Italian school system.

Its opponents — the rightwing Northern League party and the euro-skeptic Five Star Movement — claimed it will give potential extremists a legal foothold in Italian society, that it is tantamount to an “ethnic substitution”, and that it is “an unvotable mess”.

“I know a part of parliament and of public opinion looks upon (the ius soli bill) with diffidence,” Gentiloni said. “We musn’t pretend they don’t exist.”

The prime minister explained that citizenship implies rights but also duties, and that is in the interests of the country to include children who are already Italian in everything but their passport, and who will grow into productive members of the society.

“We musn’t allow room for the notion that…we underestimate the significance of our culture and our identity,” Gentiloni said. Granting citizenship to children born in Italy is a sign of strength, not weakness, he added.

The prime minister also replied to those who “agitate the spectre of a threat to our security in a wholly unjustified way”. Counter-terrorism experience teaches that the only way to root out and prevent radicalism is social inclusion, not marginalization and discrimination, Gentiloni said.

“To those who stoke such fears, we must say extending citizenship to these children…is not just a matter of conscience and civil rights, but also one of security,” Gentiloni said.

“The time has come to consider these children as Italian citizens to all effects,” the prime minister said. “We owe it to them, it is the right thing to do, and I hope parliament (approves the bill) very soon, in the coming weeks.”

The ius soli bill was first proposed by an immigrant rights campaign called Italia Sono Anch’Io (I Also Am Italy), which gathered 200,000 signatures on a petition to parliament in 2011-2012.

Supporters of the bill argue that it grants rights to children who are already de facto Italians, boosts Italy’s aging population, and contributes to the national economy by giving them a reason to stay in the country, work, consume and pay taxes.

Source: Italy PM says citizenship bill to make Italy safer – Xinhua |

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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