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Italy delays migrant child citizenship law
© Presidenza della Repubblica

Italy delays migrant child citizenship law


Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni has said conditions are not correct to enforce a bill allowing citizenship to the children of immigrants.

The law would allow some 800,000 people to become citizens and has already taken years to reach the upper house of parliament.

Right-wing parties welcomed Gentiloni’s delay but migrant groups said they were bitterly disappointed.

Gentiloni said it was still a “just law” but he had run out of time and would postpone it until the autumn.

He emphasised issues with deadlines on the Senate calendar but his main problem has been in securing political support.

More than 88,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean to Italy so far this year.

Many of the new arrivals have come through Sicily, and when a local prefect on the island sent 50 migrants to a hotel in the village of Sinagra at the weekend, dozens of local mayors began a protest outside.

They argued that the facilities were insufficient and the number was far higher than the government’s agreement with local authorities to aim for 2.5 migrants per 1,000 of the population. “We aren’t racist, or against migrants, but the distribution has to be fair,” said local mayor Vincenzo Lionetto Civa.

Many European countries already grant citizenship to the children of migrants born on their territory, although the terms vary significantly.

Italy’s centre-left-led coalition is planning to offer citizenship to children either born in Italy or those who arrived before they were 12 and intend to spend five years in formal education.

The ‘ius soli’ (right of soil) has taken years to reach Italy’s Senate. When it arrived it became the focus of thousands of amendments.

Lega Nord Party leader Matteo Salvini said more than 7,000 migrants had arrived on Italy’s southern shores this weekend alone, adding that the Sicilian mayors’ protest was proof that people had had enough.

Pan European Networks Ltd