Italian Citizenship – continued

Repubblica Italiana

Repubblica Italiana

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why the current citizenship regulations that apply to Italians who became naturalized Americans are capricious and inconsistent.  First off it makes no sense that there should be a cutoff date, totally arbitrary, that separates the “haves” from the “have-nots”, so to speak.  Why should it make a material difference WHEN a person became a naturalized American?  Why should a person who became naturalized in September 1992 be allowed to retain his Italian citizenship, whereas a person who did the exact same thing in March of the same year  should be deprived of it?  Allowing double citizenship is either good or bad: if it’s good, then make the law retroactive and let everybody have Italian citizenship who otherwise meets the requirements for it,  if it’s bad then rescind the law and let NOONE have it.

Second, the current rules lead to absurd family situations.  Take the case of Italian Gianni Stecchino who emigrated to the USA in 1980 at the age of 25.  After a couple of years he marries and has a child, let’s say in 1983.  In 1985, after the canonical 5 years have elapsed, Gianni becomes a naturalized American.  Meantime the child grows up in America, does not speak Italian, feels only a distant connection with his father’s country of birth; in short, he is for all intents and purposes American.  Nevertheless, the child can now easily claim Italian citizenship, because he was born BEFORE his father’s naturalization, whereas his father cannot.  The father, who was born in Italy, who is fluent in Italian, who knows its history and culture, who grew up there and has undoubtedly friends and connections there, CANNOT be a citizen.  Even more absurdly, it is possible to concoct scenarios where persons who are two or three generations removed from Italy can be citizens, but Gianni Stecchino, born and educated there, of full Italian blood, cannot.

Thirdly, the present rules fly in the face of efforts that Italy is making to stem the phenomenon of the fuga dei cervelli, i.e., the wholesale emigration of highly educated and capable people to lands that offer greater opportunities.  The Italian government is offering subsidies to facilitate the return of these emigres, but at the same time throwing up obstacles to the closer connections sought by thousands of former citizens who in many cases have experienced spectacular success in the United States.

For such people, made to go through all these artificial hoops, it is impossible to look upon the predicament the Italians are in with illegal immigration from Africa, the Balkans, Central Europe, etc., without a touch of schadenfreude.  Are the Italian politicians who make the rule, and the attendant Italian bureaucracy, too dense to understand that the wish of former Italians to be reintegrated into the Italian state is a compliment to Italian society and can only bring benefits to Italy?

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