1m immigrants have become citizens since 2000

22nd June 2005, Comments 0 comments

22 June 2005, BERLIN - More than a million immigrants to Germany have become German citizens since the introduction of a new citizenship law in 2000.

22 June 2005

BERLIN - More than a million immigrants to Germany have become German citizens since the introduction of a new citizenship law in 2000.

According to data presented by the Federal Government Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration, Marieluise Beck, around 800,000 immigrants have acquired German citizenship since the new law came into force on 1 January 2000. 200,000 children of foreign parents have received German citizenship at birth. Germany currently has an immigrant population of 6.7 million, making up around 6 percent of Germany's total population of 80 million.

The figures show that more people have received German citizenship in the last five years than in the 20 years before the reform. "This is an important contribution to legal integration as well as political participation in our democratic society," said Beck, speaking at the presentation of the brochure 'Wie werde ich Deutscher?' ('How do I become German?').

Beck called for more progress towards integration. "In the light of declining naturalisation and very different naturalization practices in the different federal states, we need in our cities and communities a climate which is friendly towards naturalisation, which encourages naturalisation, and which actively informs people about the possibilities of getting German citizenship."

The updated brochure 'Wie werde ich Deutscher?' is directed at foreigners who want to become German citizens. The acquisition of German citizenship is dependent on certain preconditions.

A foreigner can apply for citizenship once he or she has lived lawfully in Germany for eight years. He or she must swear to uphold the German constitution, must have adequate knowledge of the German language, must not have a criminal record, and must be able to support him- or herself financially.

The topic of immigration has also been the subject of recent statements by politicians from the opposition conservatives, the CDU/CSU.

In an interview with the Financial Times Germany on Tuesday, the CDU interior minister of North-Rhine Westfalia, Uwe Schünemann, said that foreigners who have been living in Germany for a long time should have the same right to integration and language courses as immigrants who have arrived since the introduction of a new law on 1 January 2005. Foreigners already living in Germany should be threatened with reductions in social benefits if they do not reach the goals set in their German courses.

Schünemann also said that foreign women who wish to follow their husbands to Germany should attend language courses and sit language tests in their home country before coming to Germany. "We have an enormous problem with arranged marriages," said Schünemann. "Basic language knowledge gives the women in question at least the possibility to make themselves understood."

In remarks to the news agency Reuters, senior CDU politician Wolfgang Bosbach said on Tuesday that federal states should in the future take more measures to make sure foreign children can speak German when they start school. "When a child starts school without being able to speak German, they have from the outset no chance."

Bosbach's remarks followed a much-publicised statement at the weekend, when he said that under a future conservative government priority will be given to the quality of immigrants rather than quantity.

"Some people claim we need even more immigration to be able to stabilise our social security systems," he said. "Such arguments overlook the fact that we need people who contribute to the system and don't prove to be a drain on it, as is currently the case."

Similarly, Günther Beckstein, CSU interior minister in the state of Bavaria, told the newspaper Welt am Sonntag at the weekend that the CDU/CSU would conduct its forthcoming election campaign on an anti-immigration platform.

He said that voters could choose between a policy of "massive immigration" if they voted for the SPD-Green coalition, or one "without immigration, but with extensive family policies, life long work, and permanent further education," if they voted for the CDU/CSU.

Beckstein, who like Bosbach is seen as a likely candidate for federal interior minister should the CDU/CSU win the general election, also claimed that Germany had not yet come to terms with the wave of new immigrants who arrived after reunification. He said calls to make immigration to Germany easier were completely wrong.

"We have not yet come to grips with the wave of immigration in the past decade," he said. "We are still struggling to integrate those immigrants already here, which requires a strong political effort and a willingness by immigrants to fully embrace this country."

Bosbach and Beckstein's remarks were met with heated responses from politicians from the SPD, Greens and even possible CDU/CSU coalition partners, the FDP. The Greens parliamentary leader, Volker Beck, accused the CDU/CSU of "cheap populism".

The CDU leadership were quick to play down the importance of Bosbach and Beckstein's remarks. CDU deputy leader Christoph Böhr stressed that immigration will not play a "deciding role" in the forthcoming election campaign.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: German news

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