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Napolitano urges citizenship for children of immigrants

'Denying it is true folly,' president says

22 November, 12:56
Napolitano urges citizenship for children of immigrants (ANSA) - Rome, November 22 - Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Tuesday reiterated a call for reforms of the country's citizenship law to grant citizenship to children born in Italy of immigrant parents.

"I hope that parliament can address the issue of citizenship for children born to foreign immigrants in Italy," Napolitano told reporters at the presidential Quirinale palace.

"Denying it (citizenship) is true folly, an absurdity," said the president, who has on several occasions highlighted the contribution immigrants make to Italian society.

Meeting some new citizens including soccer star Mario Balotelli at the palace last week, Napolitano said the main reform should concern minors and young people in the country. "They are not yet fully Italian citizens but they are citizens in their daily lives, in their feelings and identity," he said.

"They give us vital energy".

According to Napolitano, Italians widely shared the view that children born in Italy of immigrant parents should get citizenship.

At present migrants and their children acquire citizenship after 10 years of residence in Italy.

In many other countries, being born there is enough to become a citizen.

Recognising the important role immigrants play in the national economy, Napolitano said on November 15 that without their contribution it would be difficult for the country to pay off its debts.

The president observed that there was a lot of political support for the idea.

House Speaker Gianfranco Fini has been campaigning for years for such a law change, and to give immigrants the vote.

Centre-left parties, currently the minority in parliament, are in favour of such moves but the centre right and the regionalist Northern League are not. On Tuesday Napolitano did not say whether the issue should be one of the priorities of Mario Monti's new government, which is aiming to pass austerity measures and growth-boosting reforms to get Italy out of its debt crisis. photo: Napolitano meeting children of immigrants at Quirinale on November 15
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