Integration Minister Andrea Riccardi has said there is need of a law granting citizenship to children born in Italy of immigrant parents.
Addressing an event titled “Friends of the Poor” organized by the Diocese of Naples and Community of Sant'Egidio in Naples over the weekend, the minister called for solidarity with the people in need, including immigrants.
Mr. Riccardi is one of the few ministers who have been fighting for the reform of the citizenship law.
He dreams of Italy where Italians born of Italian parents and Italians born of immigrant parents are not treated differently as far as citizenship is concerned.
In a video message he sent to a recent conference on immigration at the Senate, Mr. Riccardi stressed the need for what he calls cultural-right citizenship.
Children born of immigrant parents should be granted citizenship because of they are culturally Italians, are integrated into Italian society, have grown up and obtained their basic education here, he said.
He urged all to recognise the work of immigrants, saying that it contributes to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). “We need immigrant workers,” the minister said.
Mr. Riccardi pointed out that in some sectors, illegal immigrant workers are highly exploited. Criminals who recruit desperate immigrants must be fought and punished relentlessly, he said.
He also called for tough action against racism.
Mr. Riccardi said that when he recently visited the earthquake hit areas in Emilia, the people there were worried of what they would do if immigrants left.
He revealed that in the tents he met Italians and immigrants living together, and recalled that in the warehouses and factories, immigrants died with Italians. They died while working “to build our country,” Mr. Riccardi said.
At this time of crisis, the country needs cohesion and no one should separate immigrants from Italians, he said.
Mr. Riccardi urged politicians to make laws that recognize the reality of integration of immigrants, pointing out that most of the time the laws are lagging behind.
By Stephen Ogongo Ongong’a