Norway’s government wants to allow dual citizenship – The Local

The last hold-out among the Nordics:
Norway’s government is to pave the way towards allowing dual citizenship in the Scandinavian country, with a proposal to be put to parliament this autumn.

The proposal will give new rights to thousands of people with connections to both Norway and a second country.

“We will notify in the state budget that there will be a hearing on the proposal to allow dual citizenship,” immigration minister Sylvi Listhaug told NRK.

For pro-dual citizenship NGO Norwegians Worldwide, which has long campaigned for a law change in the area, the announcement represents a positive change in the government’s position on Norwegians with an international outlook.

“We are extremely happy that the government wants to change an outdated and unfair law that has huge consequences for Norwegian families worldwide. This is a key issue for us and we are delighted on behalf of all those affected by the law against double citizenship,” Norwegians Worldwide general secretary Hanne K. Aaberg said in a press statement.

Donna Fox, co-founder of lobbying group ‘Ja til dobbelt statsborgerskap’ (Yes to dual citizenship) also welcomed the announcement.

“This announcement is fantastic news. After three years of lobbying for the principle of dual citizenship in Norway, Ja til dobbelt statsborgerskap has succeeded in convincing the government to change its outdated mono-citizenship law. Thousands of Norwegian families with connection to two countries, long term permanent Norwegian residents, and future generations will benefit from the right to vote, live and reside without restriction between their countries of citizenship,” Fox told The Local.

Norway is currently the only Nordic country and one of only a small handful of European nations that does not allow dual citizenship, although exceptions to citizenship rules do provide for it in some cases.

Source: Norway’s government wants to allow dual citizenship – The Local

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Brexit vote creates surge in EU citizenship applications | The Guardian

Although the overall numbers are still relatively low, the increase is notable and to be expected. Good summary of the available data:

At least 17,000 Britons sought the citizenship of another EU member state in the year after the Brexit vote, a Guardian analysis shows.

While comprehensive figures for the previous year are not available, the larger countries surveyed all reported a jump in applications, suggesting a significant overall increase.

Figures collated from requests to London-based EU embassies and interior ministries across the bloc show that EU citizenship applications from UK residents and Britons living in other member states surged in the 12 months after the referendum

Responses received from 20 countries showed the greatest number of applications were for Irish citizenship with almost 9,000 applications from UK residents and Britons living in Ireland in the 12 months from July 2016, the month after the referendum took place.

The Irish embassy in London received 8,017 applications from UK residents between July 2016 and the end of June 2017 compared with just 689 in the full year of 2015. There was also a surge in applications from British residents in Ireland: 894 applications were made in the year from 1 July 2016, compared with just 104 the previous year.

An overall agreement on Britain’s article 50 withdrawal from the EU is far from settled, and the EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said on Thursday that sufficient progress had not been made on the issue of citizens’ rights for the estimated 1.2 million Britons living in other EU countries and 3.6 million EU citizens who are residents of the UK.

Dora Kostakopoulou, a professor of EU law and European integration at Warwick University, said the main reasons for the surge in applications was because people wanted security of residence and were seeking to retain EU citizenship rights, including the right to travel and live in the 27 countries that will remain members of the EU after the UK leaves.

“They value European citizenship and therefore they do not wish to lose this status as a result of Brexit,” she said. “So gaining citizenship of (another) member state would guarantee their existing status and their existing rights.”

The Guardian contacted the UK-based embassies and interior ministries of the other member states requesting the number of citizenship applications made by UK residents and Britons living in the respective countries.

In the first eight months of 2017, 2,129 Britons living in France applied for French citizenship, figures from the interior ministry show. This compares with 1,363 applications in the whole of 2016 and just 385 in 2015. These figures exclude those made directly to the French embassy in London.

Just over 1,700 UK residents applied for German citizenship in the 12 months following the Brexit vote, compared with just 63 applications in the full-year 2015. About 90% of these were made under restoration of the basic law for the Federal Republic of Germany which confers citizenship rights on the descendents of people whose citizenship was renounced on political, racial or religious grounds in Nazi Germany.

One of them is London-based Jon Landau, the chief operating officer at tech startup Wazoku. He, his father, uncle and son all applied for citizenship on the grounds that Landau’s grandfather lost his German citizenship in the 1930s.

“As soon as the Brexit vote became clear, I started looking more seriously into the application process. Becoming a German citizen isn’t just about my future, but also about my young son’s opportunities. I want to ensure that he will see himself as a European citizen, with all the possibilities and freedoms of travel, study and work that I’ve enjoyed,” he said.

There was also a large increase in German citizenship applications among Britons living in Germany. The Federal Office for Statistics (Destatis) recorded 2,865 such applications last year, up from 622 in 2015. Figures for 2017 are not yet available.

The Swedish migration authority reported a steep increase in applications by British citizens: 1,965 Britons applied for Swedish citizenship domestically and abroad in the year to the end of June 2017, more than double the previous year.

British applications for Danish citizenship more than doubled to 604 in the same period compared with the previous year.

In Spain, where foreigners can apply for nationality after 10 years’ residence but must renounce their prior citizenship, the numbers seeking citizenship are relatively low: data on the number of people taking Spanish knowledge tests with the Instituto Cervantes shows there were 579 applications in the year after the Brexit vote.

As the test was only made compulsory in October 2015, it is not possible to compare this with the previous year period, but the average number of applications per month shot up from nine to 58 after June 2016.

One of the largest proportionate increases was recorded in Italy where the number of applications rose more than eightfold from 70 in the 12 months to the end of June 2016 to 593.

Applications for Finnish citizenship trebled to 115 applications while the number of applications for Cypriot and Greek citizenship quadrupled to 306 and 45 respectively.

There were about 170 applications in the Netherlands in the 12 months after the vote compared with just 40 in the full year of 2015.

Dawn MacFarlane, who has lived in Holland for the past 19 years and is awaiting a decision on her Dutch citizenship, said: “I actually considered myself a European citizen so I never felt the actual need to change my citizenship to Dutch even though I’ve been here a long time.”

However, she became concerned after the Brexit vote about her entitlements should she become unemployed and she said her feelings about the UK changed after the result.

“I just feel that being part of Europe is a very important part of my identity. For a large part of my life, I felt more European than British. I am Scottish first and I would have been British but the European feeling overpowered the British part.”

The Austrian embassy said it usually received about 10 applications per year, but that rose to 35 in the year following the Brexit referendum. A further 37 applications were received across the country’s nine states compared with just 15 between July 2015 and June 2016.

Other countries reported more modest increases in the number of UK residents seeking citizenship in the 12 months following the vote: the Czech republic recorded 27, up from 11, while Slovakia had 24 applications, up from 15.

No Britons were recorded as having applied for citizenship of Estonia and Slovenia.

The Guardian did not receive responses or got incomplete figures from Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia, Malta, Poland and Portugal, and a Belgian official said its figures were not centrally collated.

Citizenship applications differ from applications for passports which can only be obtained by existing citizens. Irish passport applications made by UK residentshave soared since Brexit: more than 100,000 Irish passports were issued in the UK in the first six months of 2017, up from 65,000 in 2016.

People born in other countries are automatically Irish citizens if they or either of their parents were born in Ireland (including Northern Ireland) before 2005. However, foreign-born individuals with an Irish grandparent or a parent who, although an Irish citizen, was born outside the country, must apply for inclusion in the foreign births register in order to gain citizenship.

Source: Brexit vote creates surge in EU citizenship applications | Politics | The Guardian

Brexit: Dutch nationals living in Britain will be allowed dual citizenship | The Guardian

Dutch pragmatism:

The new Dutch government will allow its citizens living in the UK to take up dual citizenship, according to a coalition agreement announced on Tuesday, which pledges to prioritise both its people and EU unity in the Brexit negotiations.

After a record 208 days, agreement was struck between four parties on Tuesday to form a centre-right government led by the liberal prime minister, Mark Rutte.

The blueprint – agreed by Rutte’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, the Christian Democrats, the centrist and pro-European Union D66 party and the faith-based Christian Union – spells out plans for tax cuts, lessons in national identity and an experiment with state-sanctioned cannabis plantations over the next four years.

It also pledges to fight for the Dutch fishing industry in the Brexit negotiations, maintain solidarity with the EU in the talks with the UK, and legislate to allow its citizens living in Britain the chance to have dual citizenship.

The document says: “The cabinet will prepare proposals for the modernisation of nationality law. It concerns an extension of the possibility of possession of multiple nationalities for prospective first generation emigrants and immigrants.”

Until now, Dutch nationals who take British citizenship to avoid having to leave the UK after Brexit would have been stripped of their Netherlands passports due to limits on dual nationality.

Even as late as July, Rutte defended the policy, telling reporters that “countering dual nationality remains one of this cabinet’s policies”, in response to a petition with 22,000 signatures calling for a government rethink.

About 100,000 Dutch nationals living in Britain face an uncertain future after March 2019. The UK and EU are yet to reconcile their differences on the citizens’ rights issue.

Sophie in ‘t Veld, a Dutch MEP, said her party, the liberal D66, had pushed for the change to help Dutch citizens in the UK.

She said: “It is a major step forward, but it doesn’t apply immediately. We will have to legislate. But when we do, people who emigrate will have the right to dual nationality, although their children will have to choose their single nationality at some point.

“The document also pledges to maintain EU solidarity in the talks, which may disappoint some in Britain but that is the way it is.”

Source: Brexit: Dutch nationals living in Britain will be allowed dual citizenship | World news | The Guardian

Singapore debates dual nationalities, cites overseas Indian citizenship as option | world-news | Hindustan Times

Interesting account of Singapore debates:

Singapore has debated the option of dual citizenship for its nationals, with some citing concepts like ‘Overseas Citizenship of India’ given by New Delhi to Indian diaspora as a middle path.

Diplomats and academics have raised pros and cons of allowing Singaporeans to have dual citizenship, according to a report in The Sunday Times on Sunday.

In 2013, the government had responded to parliamentary questions, saying that Singapore being “a small and young nation” is concerned as it could dilute citizens’ commitment to the country.

The issue of whether Singapore should one day consider dual citizenship has been raised from time to time in discussions about the future of Singapore citizenship.

Barry Desker of the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, a prominent advocate of dual citizenship, argued that it would help Singaporeans living abroad and foreigners in Singapore who are married to Singaporeans.

Singapore “may be losing good people” when Singaporeans living abroad are forced to give up their citizenship, said Professor Tan Tai Yong of Yale-NUS College in the National University of Singapore.

Associate Professor Eugene Tan of Singapore Management University said that dual citizenship should not have a detrimental impact in terms of people’s sense of belonging to the country.

A strong opponent of dual citizenship, Professor Leo Suryadinata of the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute argued that citizenship is about political loyalty and it is doubtful if a person can be loyal to two countries.

“In an age of growing nationalism and the potential break-up of the European Union, global trends appear to be moving away from dual citizenship,” he observed.

Institute of Policy Studies researcher Debbie Soon said if Singapore were to one day be in conflict with another country, dual citizenship would be problematic because of the island state’s conscription system.

“But discussions on dual citizenship do not have to yield a binary yes-or-no answer,” argued Associate Professor Elaine Ho of the National University of Singapore.

There are in-between options that may enhance the links people have to Singapore, she noted.

One is the British example of an ancestry visa, which offers foreigners who can prove ancestral links to Britain an inside track to living and working there. A similar concept is the Overseas Citizenship of India.

According to Prof Tan Tai Yong the honorary citizenship, which Singapore grants to a very select group of foreigners who have made outstanding contributions to the country, is also an example of an in-between option.

Source: Singapore debates dual nationalities, cites overseas Indian citizenship as option | world-news | Hindustan Times

Which passport offers the best perks? [#citizenship] | The Economist

Which passport offers the best perks?

The Economist’s buyers guide – note Quebec on list:

Matthew Valencia exploreshow globalisation has turned citizenship into a commodity. Here, he weighs up the pros and cons of different passports.

SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS
OPTION 1: Invest $400,000 in real estate, which must be held for five years.
OPTION 2: Pay $250,000 into the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation.
FEES: $57,500 for main applicant, $25,000 for each dependant.
BENEFIT: Citizenship; visa-free access to 132 countries; no residency requirement.
DISADVANTAGE: Seen as shady by some countries; bad publicity led Canada to withdraw visa-free access.

DOMINICA
OPTION 1: Invest $100,000 in Economic Diversification Fund, plus additional $75,000 for spouse, $25,000 for up to two children.
OPTION 2: Invest $200,000 in real estate. Property can be sold after three years if the intended buyer is a citizenship-by-investment applicant. Applicant must turn up for interview. Fees: $50,000 for main applicant, $25,000 for spouse.
BENEFITS: Citizenship; visa-free access to 91 countries; quick processing (3-6 months); no residency requirement; no mandatory interview; no physical residence requirement.
DISADVANTAGES: Poor reputation, though it claims to have tightened up vetting process; applicant must swear oath of allegiance.

ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA
OPTION 1: $400,000 invested in an approved real-estate project.
OPTION 2: $250,000 in National Development Fund.
OPTION 3: $1.5m invested in a business.
FEES: $50,000 each for main applicant, spouse and any dependant over 18; $25,000 for dependants under 18.
BENEFIT: Citizenship; visa-free access to 132 countries.
DISADVANTAGE: Weather risks for property buyers.

SAINT LUCIA
OPTION 1: Invest $200,000 in the Saint Lucia National Economic Fund.
OPTION 2: $500,000 in government bonds. Investment must be held for at least five years.
OPTION 3: $300,000 in an approved real estate. Must be held for at least five years.
OPTION 4: $3.5m in a new business that creates at least three jobs. Applicants must have a net worth of $300,000.
BENEFIT: Citizenship; visa-free access to more than 100 countries
DISADVANTAGE: As above.

UNITED STATES
EB-5 VISA: $1m investment in a business, or $500,000 in a high-unemployment or rural area. Company must create or preserve at least ten full-time jobs.
BENEFITS: Residency; access to US citizenship after five years.
DISADVANTAGES: Residency in the US required, especially during first two years; citizenship brings tax headaches, risk of being targeted by terrorists.

QUEBEC
OPTION 1: C$2m in a risky investment for 15 years. Applicants must be worth C$10m.
OPTION 2: C$800,000 in a passive investment for five years. Applicants must be worth C$1.6m.
BENEFIT: Access to citizenship after four years.
DISADVANTAGE: Must speak English or French.

AUSTRALIA
OPTION 1: Invest A$1.5m in a designated investment.
OPTION 2: For retirees aged 55-plus with A$750,000 of assets, an income of A$65,000 a year and no dependants (other than a partner). Must make a designated investment of A$750,000.
BENEFIT: Access to citizenship after four years
DISADVANTAGE: Other Australians will expect you to understand the rules of cricket.

MALTA 
CITIZENSHIP: Invest €350,000 in property, €150,000 in government-approved financial instruments and donate €650,000 to the National Development and Social Fund.
RESIDENCE OPTION 1: Invest €320,000 in property and €250,000 in government bonds. Fee of €30,000.
RESIDENCE OPTION 2: Invest €275,000 in property and pay €15,000 annually. Annual income of €100,000 or possession of capital of €500,000 required.
BENEFIT: Citizenship; visa-free access to 168 countries.
DISADVANTAGE: Successful applicants must show maintain a “genuine connection” to the country (though policing of this is not stringent).

CYPRUS
CITIZENSHIP: Investment of €2m during the three years preceding the date of the application; must retain the said investments for at least three years from date of the naturalisation.
RESIDENCE: Purchase property of at least €300,000 with evidence of a secured annual income of at least €30,000 deriving from abroad.
BENEFITS: Citizenship; visa-free access to 159 countries; dual citizenship allowed.
DISADVANTAGES: Must visit Cyprus at least once every two years.

BRITAIN
OPTION 1: Invest £2m to live in Britain for a maximum of three years. £5m gets you citizenship after three years, £10m after two years.
BENEFITS: Access to citizenship
DISADVANTAGES: Must spend at least 50% of their time in the country.

PORTUGAL
OPTION 1: Invest €500,000 in property, or €350,000 in research, or €250,000 in the arts, or €500,000 in venture capital, or create a minimum of ten jobs.
BENEFITS: Residency with a stay of only seven days in the first year; access to citizenship after five years; the right to free entry to the 26 Schengen countries; includes immediate family members
DISADVANTAGES: The cuisine

RUSSIA
OPTION 1: Start a business in Russia and once profits exceed 10m roubles.
OPTION 2: Invest 10m roubles in a business worth 100m roubles, and pay taxes of at least 6m roubles a year for three years.
BENEFITS: Citizenship
DISADVANTAGES: Two-to-four-week stay in Russia during processing required.

Sources: Investment Migration Council, The Economist

Source: Which passport offers the best perks? | 1843

New language and residency rules for Canadian citizenship kick in next week 

The coming into force of these changes within six months of Royal Assent is faster than the almost one year period for the C-24 changes that C-6 undoes. These will have an impact on the number of applications and new citizens.

  • The changes to residency requirements (from four out of six to three out of five years) will have a one-time impact, but with likely a small ongoing one.
  • The changes to testing ages are unlikely to have much of an impact with respect to 14-17 year olds given their time in the Canadian school system.
  • With respect to 55-64 year olds, there will be an ongoing impact. About seven percent (2013 numbers) of all applications were from this age cohort. So there will likely be both a significant one-time bump of those who have not applied over the last two and a half years given testing concerns (more than seven percent), as well as an ongoing impact of up to seven percent.
  • Fees will remain a significant barrier for lower-income immigrants, including of course refugees, and the Minister’s lack of flexibility remains of concern.

The impact of these changes in terms of any sense of pent-up demand will likely await first quarter 2018 data, with early signs from fourth quarter 2017 data:

Starting Oct. 11, permanent residents will be eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship if they have lived in the country for three out of the previous five years.

Also, applicants over 55 years of age are once again exempt from the language and knowledge tests for citizenship under the amended citizenship regulations to be announced by Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen on Wednesday.

The changes will be welcoming news for the many prospective applicants who have been holding off their applications since the newly elected Liberal government introduced Bill C-6 in March 2016 to reverse the more stringent changes adopted by its Conservative predecessor to restrict access to citizenship.

Citizenship applications are expected to go up, reversing the downward trend observed over the last few years after the Harper government raised the residency requirement for citizenship — requiring applicants to be in Canada for four years out of six — and stipulated that applicants between the ages of 14 and 64 must pass language and citizenship knowledge tests.

Immigrant groups and advocates have said the more stringent rules discouraged newcomers’ full integration and participation in the electoral process.

“Citizenship is the last step in immigrant integration. Those unnecessary obstacles put in place by the previous government are hurting us as a country,” Hussen told the Star in an interview Tuesday. “We are proud of these changes and are excited about it.”

Another Liberal reform that takes effect next Wednesday is granting one year credit to international students, foreign workers and refugees for time spent in Canada before becoming permanent residents toward their residency requirements for citizenship.

Despite the anticipated surge in citizenship applications as a result of the relaxed requirements, Hussen said the department will ensure resources are in place to respond to the increased intake. However, he insisted there is no plan to reduce the current $630 citizenship fee for adults and $100 for those under 18.

The changes announced Wednesday are part of the amendments that received Royal Assent in June, including repealing the law that gave Ottawa the power to strip citizenship from naturalized citizens for crimes committed after citizenship has already been granted as well as handing over the power of citizenship revocation to the Federal Court from the immigration minister.

According to government data, 108,635 people applied for Canadian citizenship in the year ended on March 31. Historically, citizenship applications received have averaged closer to 200,000 a year. 

Source: New language and residency rules for Canadian citizenship kick in next week | Toronto Star, Government Bill C-6 Backgrounder

Proposed citizenship oath change prompts some to call for more education about Indigenous people: Consultations

Good account of the results of the consultations:

A revised oath of citizenship that will require new Canadians to faithfully observe the country’s treaties with Indigenous people is nearly complete.

The proposed new text was put to focus groups held by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada in March, following months of consultation by departmental officials.

The language comes from the 94th and final recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which examined the legacy of Canada’s residential schools.

Implementing that recommendation was one of the tasks given to Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen when he was sworn into his portfolio in January 2017, but work on it began soon after the commission delivered its recommendations in late 2015, briefing notes for the minister suggest.

Focus groups mixed on proposed changes

The notes, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, show the government also wants to modify the script delivered by those who preside over citizenship ceremonies. The proposed notes say the script should refer to ceremonies on traditional territories, and include remarks on the history of Indigenous people.

When it comes to the oath, the inclusion of a reference to treaties is the only proposed change.

Changing the wording requires a legislative amendment to the Citizenship Act. The Liberals are in the process of overhauling the act in a bid to make citizenship easier to obtain.

When the proposed text was put to focus groups composed of both recent immigrants and longtime Canadian residents, reaction was generally positive, according to a report posted online by the Immigration Department this week.

But there was a caveat: “Participants only agreed with the modifications insofar as newcomers are adequately educated about Indigenous Peoples and the treaties,” the report said.

“Many felt that they themselves would struggle with this new formulation, given their own limited knowledge of the treaties.”

Some wondered about the need for changes at all.

“A few participants took it upon themselves to question the need to modify the oath and that it might represent a precedent whereby other groups in Canada will want to be represented in the oath,” the report said.

The new oath comes along with a major overhaul of the study guide used for the citizenship exam. A draft copy obtained by The Canadian Press earlier this year revealed it, too, will include extensive references to Indigenous history and culture.

The Liberals had originally been aiming to unveil both the new guide and oath around Canada Day, but work is ongoing.

It reads: “I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, her heirs and successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada including treaties with Indigenous Peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

Source: Proposed citizenship oath change prompts some to call for more education about Indigenous people – Politics – CBC News

Pope gets political in Italy’s debate on citizenship for immigrants

Not totally surprising:

While in the United States, the concept that the Vatican might influence public policy is outrageous, in Italy, the relationship between politics and the Catholic Church is like a well-made cappuccino: The espresso and milk foam may seem separated at first, but once you drink it, they blend into one.

Popes theoretically handed in their temporal power almost 150 years ago, but their voice and opinions still hold considerable weight in public discourse, which, in Italy as well as in many parts of the world these days, is centered around the immigrant crisis.

In the past, Pope Francis has been hesitant, if not downright opposed, to using his hefty popularity to intervene directly in matters of Italian public policy. But while the pope remained quiet as Italy’s parliament passed a law on de facto-couples, which critics say opened the road towards gay marriage, he was vocal on a recently proposed law concerning citizenship to the children of long-term immigrants.

The legislation is based on the concept of ius soli, which establishes citizenship depending on where you are born and not ius sanguinis, requiring a blood lineage, and would offer citizenship to the children of immigrants born in Italy who have completed at least five years in the Italian school system.

Under Italy’s current ius sanguinis system, it’s difficult and somewhat rare for the children of immigrants to the country to acquire citizenship. Under a ius soli standard, it would become much easier.

The country’s senate is currently at a standstill on the law, with opposing parties entrenched in a battle where no political blows are spared.

At the weekly general audience Sep. 27, Francis extended his arms wide toward St. Peter’s square and called faithful to welcome migrants and refugees.

“Just like this,” the pope said, “arms wide open, ready for a sincere, affectionate, enveloping embrace.” He then praised the work done by the civil organizations involved in collecting signatures in order to push the ius soli legislation forward.

This wasn’t the first, nor most adamant time the pope publicly expressed his support for the legislation, causing distress and outrage on the part of those who strongly oppose it. Matteo Salvini, leader of the populist right-wing party Northern League tweeted that if the pope “wishes to apply the law in his State, the Vatican, he can go ahead. But as a Catholic, I don’t believe Italy can welcome and sustain the entire world. To God what is of God and to Caesar what is of Caesar. Amen,” to which he added his staple hashtag ‘stoptheinvasion.’

The pope had used the same quote from the Gospel in an interview with sociologist Dominique Wolton, where he stressed how “the lay state is a healthy thing,” but Francis’s recent statements on the ius soli show that when the topic is close to his heart, he is not willing to back down.

…A chorus of priests, bishops and cardinals joined in their support of the ius soli legislation, with Bishop Nunzio Galantino, secretary general of the Italian Bishop’s Conference (CEI), saying that if a way was found to accelerate things with regards to the rights of same-sex couples, “the same attention should be given to the rights of Italians left without citizenship.”

“The Vatican doesn’t vote,” the bishop clarified, “but the Church is bound to call out the heart of the matter.”

On Sep. 25 the president of CEI, Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, also joined the ranks in favor of the controversial law, adding that while welcoming immigrants is an important first step, “there is another responsibility, promulgated over time, that has to be tackled with prudence, intelligence and realism.”

Many reporters spotted a difference of expression between Francis’s “open arms” approach and CEI’s call to caution, but Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, quickly shot them down.

“You can welcome people with open arms, but also with prudence,” Parolin told reporters Sep. 27, before taking part in Rome’s Lateran University’s conference sponsored by the pontifical organization Aid to the Church in Need on the situation facing Christians in Iraq’s Nineveh Plains area.

“The fundamental thing is welcome, because they are our brothers and sisters,” Parolin said. The prelate said that in the context of this “very intense Italian political debate,” it’s best if the Vatican sticks with “recalling principles.”

“What’s important is that these people not just be welcome but integrated, so that they can be inserted in a positive way into the fabric of our society,” Parolin said.

Source: Pope gets political in Italy’s debate on citizenship for immigrants

Making a home on native land: Adrienne Clarkson on the welcoming way to be Canadian 

Always worth reading her reflections as the 6 Degrees Citizen Space 2017 begins:

It was Robert Frost who told us in The Death of a Hired Man that “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Home is the ultimate refuge, the place of obligatory belonging, the destination of the spirit. The idea that, ultimately, there is a place where you belong, a place which is acknowledged, is a compelling one. We all want to feel that we have a home: security, trust, understanding – all are a part of what we feel our personal home is.

In this time of increased migrations, it’s worth considering once again the notion of home: the kind of home that Canada has been, is, and will be, for many.

Canada’s original residents gave an introductory lesson in “home,” as they welcomed newcomers – Europeans – to their land, and helped them learn how to survive. In a tragic irony, it is their First Nations descendants who now find themselves exiled from a sense of belonging, often literally homeless as well as uprooted from a sense of this land as home.

We would do well to reflect on what we have – or haven’t – carried forward of their welcoming legacy, and on what kind of home we offer to newcomers who come after us.

In the 1948 United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights, Article 12 says “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”

Home is a feeling as well as a shelter. It is what makes the phrase “feeling at home” or ” chez soi” meaningful. Those of us who were lucky enough to have parents until we were adults identify home as where we grew up, where, hopefully, we were loved and cared for until we could face the world ourselves. In the fortunate industrialized world, this means we went from our parents’ care to our own homes, modelling our futures on our past.

Even though I came to Canada as a refugee, I came with my family intact – mother, father, and brother. We had suffered serious trauma, having to abandon our home under bombardment, hiding in basements and watching an enemy, the Japanese army, occupy and destroy.

My family’s house in Hong Kong was looted and my mother saw our household furniture, the baby grand piano, the hand-painted heirloom china, and the silver tea and coffee service sold on the street. Our dog, a borzoi called Snow White, who had run away during the bombing, returned to us with human entrails in her mouth. Our home in Happy Valley was taken away from us and defiled.

When we made our way toward Canada on that Red Cross ship with one suitcase apiece, we had lost all our tangible bearings. But what was within us could not be destroyed. What was in us was the will and energy to begin again – in a new place, no matter how tough.

Despite the Chinese Exclusion Act, an active law intended to keep Chinese immigrants out of the country, we managed to settle in Ottawa, which was then a city of 90,000 people.

Here, the only Chinese either owned restaurants or laundries. But it was the Anglican church that welcomed us and made us feel at home, and that gave my mother, who was Hakka – and whose family had been Anglican for four generations – help and confidence. Coming from Hong Kong, we all spoke English, as good colonials should.

I often think of this when I think of the surge of people around the world, the millions on the move, swelling the refugee camps where they languish for not months, but years, waiting for the opportunity to leave. In Canada, our challenge is to make immigrants feel that they have found the place where, when they had to come here, we had to take them in.

Integration isn’t always a matter of getting lost in the crowd. Sometimes a sense of home can be built in places that may seem insular at first – not Toronto or Vancouver but Moose Jaw or Red Deer. As governor-general I went to Red Deer 15 years ago because they wanted to show me that their population mosaic was as great as Toronto’s. They had jobs to offer there and they were welcoming newcomers.

Among the 300 people who greeted me, 24 countries were represented. Filipinos, Chinese, Kenyans – all got up and spoke about the advantages of coming to what was at that time a city of 75,000 people. Initially, they said, they stood out as foreigners – they were stared at, but they found they could live through that, and if someone directed a racist epithet at their child, someone else would say, “I know his mother – she works at my local Tim Hortons.” And so they felt they quickly became part of a community. They all said that if they had known that they would have to go to a small city to find work, rather than settle in Calgary or Edmonton, they would have said, “No thanks.” In a big city, you can find others like you – whether you like them or not – but you will never be a novelty or different, in the best sense of the word.

People of my generation remember being the only South Asian family in London, Ont. or the only Chinese in St. John’s. It’s not possible to hide in communities of that size, and I’m of the belief that this isn’t such a bad thing. I have a leaning toward the “So I am different. Let’s get that over with now” school of integration. It will cause discomfort for newcomers, but is being stared at in a street or in a store too high a price to pay for establishing yourself in a country in which you are free to choose where you want to live and how you want to live?

My parents would emphasize to me that, in Hong Kong, they would not have been able to afford the kind of education we were getting for free in Ottawa – wasn’t it worth enduring some gawking on the first day of school for that? We must never interpret social awkwardness as an insurmountable barrier to belonging, nor bad manners as an ultimate form of rejection.

True, ugly racism manifests itself in other ways which we can address and combat as a society within our legal system. Some personal suffering, some loss of dignity, some sense of being excluded – all can be steps in a kind of Calvary that leads to acceptance and feeling at home. So many of us who are Canadians now have had to go down this road in the past.

Those of us who came to Canada like me, a refugee, or those who chose to leave their birth countries and chance something different, something more, have risked that we can go somewhere and be taken in. In Canada, we are in a position to take people in. And they will arrive to our cities and to our towns and communities. There will be room made for them. Or, they will make viable room for themselves in what The Globe’s Doug Saunders has described so vividly as “arrival cities”: What looks like disorder and distress can actually be an organic chaos leading to the innovative organization of a home.

We are supposed to be a healthy and prosperous country – one that is known to shelter and provide for its citizens. Unfortunately, despite this, we have the stigma of unacceptable homelessness and poverty in our country. We know that 235,000 Canadians experience homelessness each year, and that 35,000 are homeless on any given night. Twenty per cent of our homeless population is made up of people between the ages of 16-24. It is shameful that our Indigenous peoples are overrepresented in our homelessness population: One in four people who experience homelessness identify as Aboriginal or First Nations. We want to welcome newcomer families to our country, and yet somehow Canadian children and families are the fastest-growing demographic experiencing homelessness today. All this is a national disgrace.

We must adhere to the values that make this country a desirable place to settle in: “So the last shall be first, and the first last,” as the Bible says. We have means enough to focus our resources on the people who need them most, wherever they may be from.

What we have to do in Canada is assure that the place that has to take people in can offer a real home to them and to the people who are already living here. We must be certain that we are always working toward an egalitarian standard of living. We must give ourselves the goal of eliminating the blight of homelessness, the institutionalizing of food banks, the disgrace of filthy water on our reserves.

Over 40 years ago, in 1976, when we started the CBC’s investigative news programme the fifth estate, we opened a working file on bad water at Grassy Narrows. Several months ago, there was a story on bad water in Grassy Narrows in The Globe and Mail. We do have to wonder, What the hell is going on? For our Indigenous peoples, a home must be the place where they are cared for and valued, just as much as we cared for the strangers who arrived and needed to be taken in.

We must never forget that the Indigenous peoples took us all in as strangers, opened their land to us, and shared their skills and their knowledge so that we could live in a country with a rude, difficult climate and impossible terrain. Through the waterways and in their canoes, we mastered this land and called it home. It is our duty and obligation – and a part of being a citizen – to make sure that home is bountiful for all of us.

Source: Making a home on native land: Adrienne Clarkson on the welcoming way to be Canadian – The Globe and Mail

Yes, the Quebec ‘language police’ does serve a purpose: Konrad Yakabuski

Good balanced commentary:

In 2013, Quebec’s language-enforcement agency made a global fool of itself by attempting to crack down on a Montreal restaurant’s failure to translate the names of well-known Italian food items on its menu into French. Thus was born Pastagate, which was so embarrassing that it forced the normally hardline (on language) Parti Québécois government of the moment to rein in the Office québécois de la langue française. The head of the OQLF even lost her job.

Since then, the agency charged with promoting French and applying the dispositions of the province’s 40-year-old Charter of the French Language, otherwise known as Bill 101, has kept a low profile. The former PQ government freed it of the obligation of having to investigate every complaint it receives, allowing the agency to use its judgment and, hence, avoid future Pastagates to the best of its ability. This rankles some French purists who think the agency, often referred to derisively by anglophones as the Quebec language police, has been neutered.

The news this week that the OQLF will no longer “systematically” reject the use of widely accepted English terms – forcing businesses to use a French alternative proposed by the OQLF on signage, in advertisements or in the workplace – won’t make it any new friends among those who think that opening the door even a crack to les anglicismes is inviting trouble. Purists argue it is the OQLF’s job to counter the use of English terms in Quebec French, not countenance it.

Indeed, it was not that long ago that Quebec French was saturated with English terms simply because the local parlance contained no handy alternative. Francophone Quebeckers would trek to their local Canadian Tire to pick up des spark plug, des wiper or un block heater. Before the advent of official bilingualism federally and Bill 101 in Quebec, market forces were such that North American manufacturers and retailers had no incentive to come up with French names for their products.

The OQLF’s work to come up with French terms was once described by one former head of the agency as “an enterprise of decolonization.” That may be a bit overdramatic. But it did allow francophone Quebeckers, especially unilingual ones, to name their reality with words they actually understood.

It’s easy for anglophones to have a blasé attitude toward the introduction of the odd French word into English. They might feel differently if they were confronted with French terms everywhere they turned, if they had to use French expressions to describe everyday occurrences in their lives, because no English ones existed.

But in a world where English is the lingua franca, that’s not a problem anglophones generally face. English tends to get the naming rights to every new scientific discovery, invention or social trend. It’s not because English is a particularly inventive language. It’s just the globe’s dominant one. But who knows? With China’s rise, that may change.

The OQLF’s move to adopt new criteria for determining whether it is acceptable to use a so-called anglicism is simply an acknowledgment of the fact that certain French alternatives will never take hold. Grilled cheese is so ubiquitous, and so universally understood, that it is senseless to force restaurants to replace it with sandwich au fromage fondant on their menus. Besides, that’s precisely the kind of overkill that subjects the OQLF to ridicule.

It’s much better for the OQLF to focus its scarce resources on creating French neologisms for the hundreds of English technical terms that are introduced every year, particularly in the high-technology sector. That is the OQLF’s main 21st-century challenge.

Canada accounts for only 7.2 million of the world’s 220 million francophones – though that latter figure includes so-called partial French-speakers, largely in Africa. The point is that, just as British and Canadian English differ in many ways (what we call a truck they call a lorry), Quebec French differs from the French spoken on other continents. The OQLF has been a leader in modernizing the French language and the French themselves have taken note.

“To remain alive, a language must be able to express the modern world in all its diversity and complexity. Each year, thousands of new notions and realities appear that must be understood and named,” notes the mission statement of France’s Commission d’enrichissement de la langue française, which was created in 1996 and modelled after the OQLF. “The creation of French terms to name today’s realities is a necessity.”

Source: Yes, the Quebec ‘language police’ does serve a purpose – The Globe and Mail