The internal office of the Italian Ministry of the Interior has announced that it is working on an administrative reform that opens the provisions of ius soli to the Italian-born children of beneficiaries of international protection. This would give them equivalent rights to the children of stateless people as per Law 91 of 1992 which says that “Italian citizenship is bestowed to the child born in the Italian national territory when his/her parents are unknown, stateless or they do not transmit their citizenship to the child in accordance with their nationality’s legislation” (Italian Consulate). This means that children born in Italy to refugees who have been granted asylum could become Italian citizens once this change is put into place.
Although the numbers that will be affected by this change seem to be minimal (there is mention of about 200 cases), these provisions are a favourable model for extending ius soli to all other legally resident children born in the country, as exists in most other EU15 countries. As the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) explains, young people born and raised in Italy can only declare themselves Italian after the age of 18 presuming they are legally registered and have uninterrupted residence. This means that they face inevitable administrative problems. Knowing no other country but Italy as their own, Italian-born students are removed from classes according to new 30% non-citizens’ quota. Their residence is easily interrupted by spending too long with family abroad.
Further information on access to citizenship and the modes of acquisition of citizenship in Italy are highlighted on the EUDO Citizenship website and the Handbook for Italy which were developed as part of the Access to Citizenship and its impact on integration (ACIT) project.
One of MPG’s interested partners on citizenship campaigns, Rete G2, welcomes this new interpretation of the Italian citizenship law by the Ministry of Interior and makes a strong call to the Chamber of Deputies to implement, by the end of 2014, a comprehensive reform of the citizenship law by recognizing the right to citizenship of those born in Italy to foreign parents or who have migrated to Italy as a child. In May 2014, the Commission on Constitutional Affairs at the Chamber of Deputies resumed the debate on the reform of the citizenship law. G2 have been campaigning for a change in this law for quite some time through its Italia Sono Anch’io campaign. This is one example that MPG is using to develop a common model for citizenship and voter mobilisation campaigns across Europe. Having consulted European and US practitioners on the issues of naturalization, political mobilization and electoral participation, MPG is developing a best practice model that can be used and adapted by practitioners across Europe as they develop their own campaigns. The objective is to:
- facilitate campaigns that directly support immigrants in becoming citizens, assist with voter registration and increase election turnouts;
- address the lack of comprehensive approaches to citizenship acquisition on a national level;
- lay the foundations for future campaigns on a national level;
- raise awareness about immigrant disenfranchisement as a major democratic deficit in Europe;
- in the long run, increase the political participation of immigrant citizens