Immigration has always been one of the most controversial and debatable subject in ages and, during this week, has come back to be a very hot topic both in the UK and Italy. That happened because of two distinct events: the Queen’s speech in the UK and the interview of the new Italian Minister of Integration, Cécile Kyenge.
The first episode, the Queen’s speech, took place on 8th May in the House of Lords. In few words, it is written by the government and delivered by the reigning monarch, the Queen’s Speech sets out the measures the government wants to get through Parliament in the year ahead. It is considered the centrepiece of the state opening of Parliament. But this year, the speech resounded loudly for its bill concerning immigration which has inflamed the public debate.
An article of BBC’s says indeed: “A fresh attempt to curb immigration is the centre piece of the government’s planned new laws, set out by the Queen at the State Opening of Parliament.”
According to the new immigration bill, short-term migrants will pay for NHS care, landlords will be forced to check immigration status and illegal migrants will not get driving licences. On the other hand, government says it is also determined to do more to tackle illegal immigration and demonstrate that it is backing families who “want to work hard and get on”. The Queen said an immigration bill would aim to “ensure that this country attracts people who will contribute, and deter those who will not”.
If passed, the bill would allow foreign criminals to be deported more easily, as well as people who are in the UK illegally, businesses caught employing illegal foreign labour would face bigger fines. Migrants’ access to the NHS would be restricted and temporary visitors would have to “make a contribution” to the cost of their care, either with their own money or through their government. Besides it’s intriguing to know that the planned immigration crackdown follows the surge in support for UKIP, which campaigns just for a reduction in net migration.
The Italian episode is even more controversial, and it has become in these days a particularly wedge topic.
In the Italy of the unemployment and the lowest trust on political parties, the neo-Minister of Integration, Cécile Kyenge Kashetu, has recently triggered a high pitched debate about an hypothetical approval of the “jus soli”. She is the first African Italian minister in the history of Italy and she was welcomed warmly by most of the public opinion.
In an interview carried out by the journalist Lucia Annunziata, Ms. Kyenge promoted the proposal for a law on granting citizenship to children of immigrants born on Italian soil, the previously mentioned jus soli.
The jus soli is alternative to the “jus sanguinis”, that was the sole means of determining nationality in Europe and Asia. According this principle, an individual belongs to his people, not to a territory. It was a basic tenet of Roman law. But the independence of the English colonies in America, the French Revolution, the massive migrations to the Americas and Western Europe laid the foundations for jus soli.
Nowadays, jus soli is followed by a minority of the world’s countries, among which the most famous for their birthright citizenship are Canada and the United States. Moreover, since 2004, no European country grants unconditional birthright citizenship.
Kyenge’s strong declaration succeeded to arouse a hopefully constructive debate being still for a long time in Italy. In fact, she said afterwards: “I’ve never thought Italy must observe a pure jus soli. I’ve been talking about jus soli during these days just to stimulate a debate among the civil society in order to assess which model may be the fairest for Italy.”