Italy de­lays cit­i­zen­ship rights bill un­der mi­grant pres­sure

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Italy’s govern­ment has de­layed a par­lia­men­tary vote on a cit­i­zen­ship rights bill as ten­sions rise over the num­ber of mi­grants ar­riv­ing on the coun­try’s shores. The pro­posal to give chil­dren born on Ital­ian soil to for­eign par­ents cit­i­zen­ship rights at birth or af­ter at least five years of Ital­ian school­ing en­joys the sup­port of Prime Min­is­ter Paolo Gen­tiloni’s cen­tre-left Demo­cratic Party (PD). But Gen­tiloni said late Sun­day that the bill would be dropped un­til later in the year con­sid­er­ing other “ur­gent dead­lines” and “dif­fi­cul­ties that have arisen on cer­tain fringes of the ma­jor­ity”.

He gave his “per­sonal com­mit­ment” to en­sure the bill was ap­proved in the au­tumn. For­eign Min­is­ter An­gelino Al­fano, who leads a small cen­trist party in the rul­ing coali­tion, had said that while the bill had his sup­port in prin­ci­ple, he could not guar­an­tee the nec­es­sary votes in favour con­sid­er­ing the cur­rent cli­mate.

A poll last week showed the bill is los­ing sup­port among Ital­ians, even though such a path to cit­i­zen­ship ex­ists in many other EU coun­tries, and de­spite sup­port­ers in­sist­ing the draft law has noth­ing to do with newly-ar­rived mi­grants. Over 86,000 mi­grants have ar­rived so far this year, up over 10 per­cent com­pared with the same pe­riod in 2016.

The left-lean­ing La Repub­blica daily called on the po­lit­i­cal class to “be straight with Ital­ians and dis­man­tle lies”. “This law has noth­ing to do with those who are dis­em­bark­ing on our coasts,” it said. Un­der the pro­posed bill, one of the par­ents would have to have been le­gally present in Italy for five years for chil­dren born here to be granted cit­i­zen­ship, so it would not ap­ply to those re­fused asy­lum and or­dered to leave the coun­try.

Mat­teo Salvini, head of the an­ti­im­mi­gra­tion North­ern League party, de­scribed Gen­tiloni’s de­ci­sion as “a vic­tory” for his party, say­ing: “If they try again, they’ll find us ready. Stop in­va­sion”. Some 45 may­ors in Si­cily have de­manded a meet­ing with the govern­ment this week af­ter a heated protests over the dis­tri­bu­tion of newly-ar­rived mi­grants on the south­ern Ital­ian is­land. —AFP

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