Kyenge open to abolishing 'crime' of illegal immigration

Italian integration minister says would assess 'utility' of law

Kyenge open to abolishing 'crime' of illegal immigration

Rome, July 12 - Italian Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge told radio listeners on Friday that she was open to assessing whether to wipe the criminal status of illegal immigration from Italian books. Asked on Radio 24 whether she would cancel the ''crime'' of illegal immigration, Kyenge said she would ''evaluate the utility, the cost-benefits for the country''. ''Local (government) administrations must make an assessment in this sense,'' she said. Kyenge added that determining whether a person is illegal ''must be established after verifying the facts, not before''. Kyenge also said that citizenship in European Union countries ''begins from an integration process for the parents (of children) who live in a territory''. The minister gave the example of Spain, where ''two years residency are enough to ask for citizenship and to ensure that the children born to couples where one of the two has resided for at least two years, (that parent) can automatically ask citizenship for their children when they are born''. When asked how many years of residency would be sufficient for Italy, Kyenge responded, ''It is too early to say''. ''In parliament there are 20 law proposals on citizenship, that range from ius soli 'secco' to 'temperato','' the minister said, referring to a legal stance of citizenship granted for being born in the territory to citizenship given over time and a process of integration. ''My proposal is a law that foresees at least five years of residence,'' Kyenge said. Regarding debate so far stirred by her words on immigration, the Congo-born minister said, ''For the first time, one will speak in Italy not only of 'ius soli' but of citizenship in its higher sense''.

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